Thursday, April 29th, 2010

In the United States there is a plethora of reasons for listening to music. Some people listen to lyrics, some listen to melodies, some listen to rhythms, and some have other predilections entirely. For most Cubans the motivation is very simple; to dance. Lyrics are important to most of the older generation, and some of the younger generation, but above all, Cubans love to dance. The youth have turned to reggaeton, a genre that pays little attention to meaningful prose and musicality but emphasizes rhythm and entertainment. Songs by groups such as Gente dZona, Eddy K, and Wisin y Yandel blast from cars and discotecas at all hours of the day and night, and most of the population knows every word to these songs. Reggaeton receives a fair amount criticism, but many of those critics still listen and dance to it in secret. This dynamic partially resembles that of the generational gap in the U.S. Popular music receives very little respect, perhaps deservedly so, but the catchy tunes are often infectious and find their way into ipods across the country. Traditional Cuban city music shows strong jazz and African influences, both in the instrumentation and the beat patterns. The three variations of the Rumba form the foundation for some music, specifically by artists such Chucho Valdez, while other musicians and groups borrow from Cha Cha Cha, for example Benny More, one of the most respected Cuban musicians. Many Cuban musicians performed not only with their respective groups, but also as solo pianists playing classical music, cementing their reputations as well versed and well rounded musicians. Los Van Van, the most popular Cuban group of all time, use trombones, violins, cellos, bass, keyboard, drum set, flute, and vocalists to create a jazz orchestra essentially, and then combine that with harmonic vocals and creative lyrics. The term “salsa” is often used to describe Latin American music, but in Cuba it is regarded as a commercial term, rather than a legitimate genre of its own. Cuban music, much like the population, is a veritable mixing bowl of influences, but maintains a distinct identity. The music embodies the open, extroverted, and expressive culture of the island and transcends generational gaps, differences in tastes, and even the language barrier.

Category: Student Blogs