When we talk about Cuban music we must go back to its origins. When the Spanish colonized Cuba, they exterminated the Indians and replaced the labor force with black Africans. With the beginning of the slave trade in the 16th century and from the African continent, men and women were introduced to Cuba as slave labour. With them came different cultures, relics and ethnic groups (among others: Arará, Bantú, Yoruba and Carabalí) from different regions of the African Atlantic coast. Its origins can be traced back to the entire Congo River basin, where it covers the Bantu linguistic trunk.
Countries currently bearing the names of the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and the Republic of Angola, as well as the Indian Ocean. But it was sub-Saharan West Africa that fed most of the island's slave population with men and women. The territories that today make up the countries of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Guinea, Benin and Nigeria, among others, made cultural and religious contributions.
expressions that today are part of the Cuban identity.
Some of the fundamental rhythms in West Africa are based on 6/8 feeling. In Cuba, one of the most popular 6/8 is known as Bembé, originated by the word bembes, which is a religious gathering that includes drums, songs, and dances.
It is essential to understand the importance of the clave in Afro-Cuban music. The clave is the basis of the rhythm played, serving as a skeletal rhythmic figure around which the different drums and percussions are played.
We can adapt this pattern to 4/4 with triplets
Afro-Cuban 6-8 Rhythms
Party for the fun of the orishas, the gods belonging to the Yoruba religion. In this festival, different types of percussion instruments are sung, danced and played.
During a bembé the Orishas are praised, greeted and implored to join the party by riding (possession through the trance) one of their priests present. This is done through a confluence of song, rhythm and movement, calling the orisha so that they will recognize themselves in the lyrics, rhythms and dances that have been performed for them for perhaps thousands of years.
Rhythms play an important part in this equation and drummers practice assiduously for years in order to play the intricate rhythms correctly. This is important because the drums actually speak to the Orishas because the Yoruba language is tonal, and the drums have been tuned so that they play the different tonalities of the Yoruba language. For this reason some rhythms are never played unless it is within a religious context or would offend the orisha. These rhythms are actually prayers to the Orishas, each orisha having its own rhythms associated with them. Dance also becomes prayer within the religious context of a bambé. The movements of the dances are the same movements that have been associated with the Orishas for thousands of years.
As with the rhythms that are played with the drums, each orisha has its own dance, the dance of Yemayá emulates the movement of the waves, the dance of Oggún the cut with the machete, the dance of Oshún represents the way in which she makes herself dressed in front of the hand mirror, etc. Therefore, these movements become more danceable prayers than what Western Europeans would refer to as a dance.
Everything that is present in a bembé, be it songs, dances, rhythms or colors that are used, is part of an intricate web of prayers, greetings, prayers and calls to the Orishas, asking them to be present and calling the Orishas to be with us.
In Afro Latin Drum Machine you can find up to 8 variations of the Bembé rhythm
Bembe 3 Shekeres
Variation of Bembé with 3 Shekeres of different tones creating interesting rhythmic figures
Toque de Guiro
In Cuba, the "toque de güiro" is performed with a trio, as is often the case with other African instruments, with the smallest being called "salidor", the middle "segundo" and the largest "caja". It is a large, hollowed-out pumpkin covered with a net woven with seeds. The sound is obtained by shaking it by shaking the seeds against the pumpkin and also by hitting the base of the instrument with the palm of the hand.
It comes from the groups of abakuás or ñáñigos, which developed in 1836 in Havana and Matanzas. Its origin is located in the African region of Calabazar. The Abakuá societies have the structure of mutual aid groups, divided into games, powers or lands. They belong to the cultural-religious complex
carabinieri. The abakuá dance is performed by the ireme or diablito, a predominant character in the ñáñigas rites or parties. Their instruments consist of drums (creeds of ceremonial order, which sound by rubbing like the ekué. The parties or plants are held in the fourth fambá and in the processions, in which Ire-me dances and the other participants sing in chorus. The abakuás have made many contributions to contemporary Afro-Cuban music, both in instruments and rhythms. At present, these secret societies still exist in Cuba, and they are made up mostly of very correct and respectful people.
The percussionist Chano Pozo was one of the first to mix it with jazz, thanks to musicians like him, today we can play this touch in modern music both on drums and with the percussion set.
Variation of Abakuá rhythm played in the province of Matanzas
Rhythm of 6 / 8 with clave played with the Agogo bells.
Rhythm dedicated to Babalú Ayé, one of the most devout deities of the Yorubá Pantheon in Cuba. Orisha, the greatest and most revered saint. Its name is of Lucumí origin, also known as Agróniga. In the Cuban province of Matanzas, one of the strongest folkloric provinces on the island, the heirs of Arará, play the Asojín drum for Babalú Ayé. It is received directly by the descendants of Arará.
Ritual to the Orisha Mayor Yewuá. It is said that she lives inside the cemetery and is the goddess of the homeless. In charge of delivering the corpses to Oyá, she is an old woman, considered a virgin and extremely chaste. That's why they say he forbids his children all sexual contact; hence his servants are old virgins or sterile women.
In his presence no one can undress or even think about the pleasures of the flesh; one cannot speak rudely or establish fights. He enjoys great prestige among mortals and his children are subjected to absolutely rigid and austere behavior. She is particularly adored in Santiago de Cuba.
Touch another deities of the Yoruba religion. Elegua is the first protection, since it is the one who opens the way to continue in religion. The uninitiated or aleyos must receive it or consecrate it as first. It is the sight that follows a path, it becomes a fearsome and fierce warrior when it joins Oggún and Oshosi, nothing stops it. Elegua is one of the first Osha or Orisha to be received. He is an Osha of Orisha Oddé's group, which is called The Warriors. He is the first of the warriors along with Oggún, Oshosi and Osun. In nature it is symbolized by the rocks. Eleguá came to the earthly plane accompanying the Osha Obbatalá. He is considered Olofin's fundamental messenger.
The Iyesá form one of the Yoruba subtribes and inhabit the Ilesha region of Western Nigeria. During the centuries of the slave trade, blacks of this origin entered Cuba under the generic domination of Lucumí, a vague term that included the most diverse peoples of the Guinean coast. By the beginning of the 19th century, they had already managed to redo their rites and other cultural manifestations, adjusting them to the new environment of the Colony.