Cuban Folk Music, . Cuba
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Description Cultural themes: Cuban Folk Music, . Cuba
The natives of Cuba were the Taíno, Arawak and Ciboney people, known for a style of music called areito. Large numbers of African slaves and European immigrants brought their own forms of music to the island. European dances and folk musics included zapateo, fandango, zampado, retambico and canción. Later, northern European forms like waltz, minuet, gavotte and mazurka appeared among urban whites. Fernando Ortíz, a Cuban folklorist, described Cuba's musical innovations as arising from the interplay between African slaves settled on large sugar plantations and Spanish or Canary Islanders who grew tobacco on small farms. The African slaves and their descendants reconstructed large numbers of percussive instruments and corresponding rhythms, the most important instruments being the clave, the congas and batá drums. Chinese immigrants have contributed the cornetín chino ("Chinese cornet"), a Chinese wind instrument still played in the comparsas, or carnival groups, of Santiago de Cuba.
Hernando de la Parra's archives give many of our earliest available information on Cuban music. He reported instruments including the clarinet, violon and vihuela. There were few professional musicians at the time, and fewer still of their songs survive. One of the earliest is "La Ma-Teodore", which is similar to ecclesiastic European forms and 16th century folk songs.