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Cuban music has made contributions to universal culture by comming out with characteristics of their own and endless vitality, under the heritage of Spanish and African rhythms and the receptor of Caribbean, continental and European influences.

Very little survived of the Indian-Cuban aboriginal man, whose songs were accompanied by maracas, flutes and drums.

From 1510 onwards Diego Velázquez started the conquest and colonization and afterwards black people were brought from Africa as slave labour.

Soon afterwards the Island received music with a yoruba, congo, carabalí and arará origin; intertwined with romances, and traditional Spanish songs.

This was the beginning of what Don Fernando Ortiz called transculturalization. The pressed chord and the drum, the prayer and the singing from Andalucia or the Canary Islands merged together with the Caribbean light.

This transculturalization reached its high point during the 18th century with the famous development of the sugar and coffee plantations. The autochtonous aspects were perfilated and enriched with the African-French contribution that came through the European emigrants.

According to history, Miguel Velázquez (16th century) is considered to be the first musician in the country, the son of an Indian and a Spanish, even though Esteban Salas (1725-1803) would become the starter of a never ending list of Cuban composers, from whose hands came out masses, hymns, songs and Christmas carols.

Songs talked during the 19th century of the beauty and tenderness of women, of the green fields and of the blue sky to offer a feeling of being Cuban which was totally against all of the peninsular aspects. An example of this is the love song La Bayamesa, which was very much spread since its was created in 1851.

Together with native independence there has always been its music. The first Revolutionary song of the fighting Cubans, written by Perucho Figueredo, became the National Hymn and it was sung for the first time on October 20th, 1869, on the date in which the National Culture Day is still being celebrated.

Music flourished diring the 19th century. Professor Manuel Saumell (1817-1870) gave a very natural profile to the French contredanses brought by inmigrants. In 1879, Miguel Fraílde created the first danzón called Las alturas de Simpson (The heights of Simpson), the starting point for the genre fusion such as danzón and son.

Jewels of universal culture are the dances for piano by Ignacio Cervantes, born in 1847.

Brillian creators enriched Cuban music since the ages of formation of nationality. The most internationally spread national composer in the world is Ernesto Lecuona, who left our cultural heritage more than 500 pieces, among them Siboney and La Malagueña, as well as the zarzuelas María La O and El cafetal.

Our country has always had exceptional personalities. That is the case of the singers Rita Montaner, Ignacio Villa (Bola de Nieve), Benny Moré, Sindo Garay and Miguel Matamoros, who imposed their personal style.

More recently, Joseíto Fernández, Pablo Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez, Celina González, Omara Portuondo, Chucho Valdés and Polo Montañés, as well as popular bands such as the internationally renowned Van Van, NG La Banda, and Adalberto y su son, among others, stand out for their melodic message.

By Teresita Jorge

Source: Cubarte

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