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The Son cubano is a style of music that originated in Cubamarker and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin. In New York City, it mixed with other musical styles to influence the creation of salsa music. The Cuban son is one of the most influential and widespread forms of Latin American music: its derivatives and fusions have spread across the world.

The word son (literally meaning 'sound' in Spanish) has also come to be used for other traditional rural musical styles of Spanish-speaking countries. For example, in Mexico the Son Jarocho of Veracruzmarker and the Son Huasteco of the Sierra Huasteca constitute distinct popular musical styles. They are not derived from the Cuban son.


The evidence is that the son is a relatively recent musical invention, probably no earlier than the end of the 19th century. Son arose in the Cuban province of Oriente and reached Havanamarker around 1910. Cuban historians and musicologists no longer believe that son is related to the story of Ma Teodora.

The first known son group was the Cuarteto Oriental, formed in 1916 by the Martínez brothers: Gerardo Martínez (claves), Guillermo Castilla (botija), Ricardo Martínez (tres) and Nery Cabrera (maracas). Recording began in 1918 with Sexteto Habanero (a re-named Cuarteto Oriental). Sexteto Boloña was also launched that year, but did not record until the mid-1920s.

Popularization began in earnest with the arrival of radio broadcasting in 1922, which came at the same time as Havana's reputation as an attraction for Americans evading Prohibition laws, and the city became a haven for the Mafia, prostitution and gambling, and also became a second home for trendy and influential bands from New York Citymarker. A few years later, in the late 1920s, son sextets became septets and son's popularity continued to grow with artists like Septeto Nacional and its leader, Ignacio Piñeiro (Echale salsita - Donde estabas a noche). In 1928, Rita Montaner's El Manicero became the first Cuban song to be a major hit in Parismarker and elsewhere in Europe. In 1930, Don Azpiazu's Havana Casino Orchestra took the song to the United States, where it also became a big hit.

In the 1940s, Arsenio Rodríguez became the most influential player of son. He used improvised solos, toques, congas and extra trumpets, percussion and pianos, although all these elements had been used previously (Papauba - Para bailar son montuno). Beny Moré (known as the El Bárbaro del Ritmo, "The Master of Rhythm") further evolved the genre, adding guaracha, bolero and mambo influences. He was perhaps the greatest sonero (Castellano que bueno baila usted - Vertiente Camaguey ).

With the arrival of chachachá and mambo in the United States, son also became extremely popular. After the Cuban Revolution separated Cuba from the U.S., son, mambo and rumba, along with other forms of Afro-Cuban music contributed to the development of salsa music, initially in New York.


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