Go to Content
Columbia College Chicago


Definition of Style

Like much of Cuban culture, son is a product of the interaction of African-derived music and the music of the descendants of the Spanish colonists. Son was originally a rural musical form that developed as an accompaniment to dancing, but it has become a dominant popular music in the urban setting of twentieth-century Cuba. As it became popular with urban audiences in the early twentieth-century, son was adapted to modern instrumentation and larger bands. Typical son instrumentation could include the tres (a type of guitar with three sets of closely spaced strings), standard guitars and various hand drums and percussion instruments. American jazz instrumentation also influenced son, and many sons also include parts for brass instruments.

Musical Example

Echale salsita (I. Piñeiro), Septeto Nacional. El son es lo más sublime (A.S.P.I.C. X 55513).

Introductory Bibliography

Manuel, Peter, ed. Essays on Cuban Music: North American and Cuban Perspectives. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991. Concentrates on folk and popular music, with some political analysis.

Moore, Robin. Nationalizing Blackness: Afrocubanismo and Artistic Revolution, 1920-1940. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1997.

Selected Discography

Cuba: El son es lo más sublime (A.S.P.I.C. X 55513)

Cuban Counterpoint: History of the Son Montuno (Rounder CD 1078)

Septetos Cubanos: Sones de Cuba (Corason MTCD 113/4)