Havana Music merges Spanish guitar and Afro-Cuban percussion to create a vibrant, happy rhythm that has transcended through the decades. The roots of Cuban music go back to West African and European music, these influences marked the beginning of this wave of music. Cuban music later became the foundation of a wide variety of genres such as salsa, rhumba (and multiple variations of it), jazz, flamenco, trova, tango, soukous, and more. This is perhaps one of the most influential music genres as it shaped several music styles in Latin America, West Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.
The mix of cultures is what makes Havana music so special. Cuba was home to many enslaved African and European immigrants who brought their traditions with them. One of the most relevant traditions brought back then was their different musical heritage. Africans brought the percussion: bongos, congas, batá, cajón (wooden box). This was all they had when the drums were banned in the country. Another important contribution from the African is the polyrhythmic percussion, which took the rhythms to the next level. The Spaniards, on the other hand, contributed with the guitar and knowledge of music composition. Melody was a European staple, and it made the traditional Cuban music a lot better once integrated with it. Lastly, the Chinese provided the corneta china (chinese cornet), and it all came together to generate this beautiful set of rhythms known as Cuban music.
Havana music still lives in the streets today. When visiting this beautiful port of call, don’t forget to stop at some of the best places to get a feel of Cuban culture the best way: through its music. Here’s the top 10 sites to enjoy the best of Havana music:
Yolanda - Pablo Milanes 1982
Guajira Guantanamera - Originally released by Cuarteto Caney in 1938. This song became a Cuban icon and was performed by multiple famous Cuban artists such as Celia Cruz, Compay Segundo, and J. Iglesias.
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