Cuban Music and Culture

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Cuban culture has folk music which has its roots I African heritage. The African slaves brought to the Caribbean island of Cuba founded a social club where these sounds were heard in the Cabildos. Iré Elese Abure is one of the modern groups performing traditional Afro-Cuban, which has Yoruba roots meaning “goodness from the hands of our brothers and sisters”. The musicians are a group in Chicago steeped in song, dance, and drumming customs and traditions of Afro-Cuban folklore.  

The musicians have performed Dance Hall on the December 9th 2016 and played Candela (Palo Quimbombo) at the Myron R. Szold Music. Guaganco style was displayed in the performance of the music band that is a combination of percussion where three conga drummers, claves, which are usually played by the singer, and a maraca or a chekeré are providing the main beats. The essential components of the play are the voices of the vocalist and the backup singers. A couple dance of sexual competition represents the dancing part in the live performance, where the male attempts to “catch” his partner in an erotic movement called the “vacunao”.


A lively and energetic mood is displayed in the performance. The percussion triad started the melody by tapping the hands as the singer began the first few lyrics of the song. The rhythm of a tune was changing from moderate, slightly moderate, to a fast-paced tempo until it reached the last few choruses of the song. The main vocalist attained the beautiful ring of the lively singing through the help of the voices of the backup. One felt the wonderful groove of the song once the dancing began. Such feelings are naturally inducing a spiritual experience even if the person is only listening to the song in a video and so much more if one is watching the live performance.   

The musicians try to motivate others to appreciate and celebrate this type of their tradition, according to the principles of the music band. The artists have also stated that the music they play on the stage echoes the practices they invoke in spiritual settings, and by intersecting the sacred and the secular, they hope that their shared knowledge and talents will influence others share their own experiences and support their evolution. Seemingly, beating of the hands to the instrument is not the music, nor it is the singing of the human voices itself. Therefore, the music is the heart and soul of matters that make us humans and connect to each other as stated by the Iré Elese Abure.


The Latin jazz also known as Afro-Cuban jazz is the harmonization of rhythms and improvising of jazz from Cuba and Africa. Religious and profane constitutes the two main categories of Afro-Cuban music. Instruments used in rituals, chants and rhythms are included in religious music on the other hand guaguanco, rumba and comparsa including lesser styles such as the tumba francesa constitute the profane music. Virtually African rhythms influence all Cuban music. Cuban famous music, and a number of the art music has strands from both Africa and Spain knitted in an exclusive Cuban cloth, for instance, the son cubano. The Cubans of sub Saharan Africa ancestry are referred to as Afro-Cuban, and to cultural or historical elements in Cuba are thought to emanate from this community. The term defines the merging of African and cultural components found in Cuban society such as language, religion, class culture, music, and the art.

October 05, 2023


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