In the streets, in the cafés, in homes, music flows in Cuba as a component of the minutes that fill the days. It is difficult to get an idea of what this island would be if it weren’t for its music, for the passion of the Cubans for instruments and their unique way of turning their feelings into notes, into emotions, into dance. Everyone, from the most skilled to the least experienced, can start a band, gather on a street corner, sing to the city from a terrace, organize a gig in a bar and make their own songs known or simply cover, for better or for worse, the songs that they have grown up with over the decades.
Cuban music was born of a cultural fusion of Spanish musical folklore and African rhythms imported by the slaves who arrived from the continent. This mixture produced an astonishing collection of easy-to-interpret phrases that, thanks to their combination of relatively simple melodies and frenetic rhythms, began to take the place of the most popular European dances at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. But it was not until the 20th century that Cuban music underwent its greatest expansion. Up until the Second World War, a long list of Cuban musicians had already created huge collections of songs, danzones, sones, boleros, guarijas, guarachas, pregones, sones montunos, guaguancós, cha-cha-chas, mambos, rumbas, congas and tangos tongos (songs of these traditional genres). And this had an enormous influence on the development of jazz in the United States. All of these rhythms traveled to the continent and, thanks to the popularization and commercialization of formulations by Hollywood, large quantities of music which would be consumed by a public that lived for dance rhythms were produced.
To speak of it all, and as the icing on the cake, in 1999, filmmaker Win Wenders, together with musician, Ry Cooder created one of the best documentaries in the history of cinema: Buena Vista Social Club. That turning point in the recognition of popular Cuban music beyond its own borders was a way of defending, making known and revitalizing what had happened in Cuba for decades: the importance of some musicians and the music beyond its borders.
But none of this would have any value if it were not for the Cubans themselves, for the need that these people have to live music in all of its forms. Everything counts when making music, from saucepans to electric guitars, because music is in everything. Rhythms that force your muscles to move to the sound of the notes can appear from everything. Here you cannot simply look, because Cuban music does not just belong to those who play it, but also to those who listen to it, who participate in its dances, its choruses and its emotions.
Cuba is many things but, above, below, at the sides of and before all of them is music. Music that cannot be forgotten and with a such a rhythm that, if visitors get hooked, they will never lose.
Don’t miss: If Cuba has one thing it is establishments with live music. One such option is El Gato Tuerto, where you can enjoy live classic tunes with a more than pleasant atmosphere. One thing to remember is that, since the places are so small, it’s best not to leave it until the last minute.
“IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has a large number of hotels scattered across various regions of the island of Cuba. From the best known, such as Varadero, to areas such as Trinidad or the majestic capital of Havana which, while less tourist-oriented, are no less appealing.”