Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to the appropriate section of the glossary.
1. A secret fraternal society, initially all male, developed in Cuba by the African Carabalí people. 2. The musical styles of the Abacuá people and folkloric ensembles greatly influencing Cuban secular forms such as rumba.
Literally, "fan"; a stylized roll played by the timbalero usually to signify a change in the music (i.e. from verse to chorus). The Spanish word for fan, used to describe the Timbales figure (roll and accent) played to introduce or close sections and to setup various ensemble passages (pick-up phrase).
A small rattle or shaker made of either metal, wood, gourd, coconut or other material, used to play the standard bell patterns or other accompaniments in Batá ensembles.
A rhythmic style combining adaptations of sacred batá drum rhythms popularized in Cuba in the 1940s, and often used to interpret lullabies.
See Pedro Izquierdo.
The Yoruba name for the beaded calabash gourds, also called shekeré/chekeré or guiro.
Dahomean ritual/ceremonial drums brought to the Oriente province of Cuba by the Haitian emigres following the Haitian slave rebellion of 1791.
1. A term derived from the native, indigenous tribes living in Cuba before colonization, (such as the Siboney, Taíno and Guanajatabibe tribes), referring to elaborate religious celebrations of music, dance and theatre; 2. A rhythmic style combining several elements of Cuban carnaval rhythms with the son and rumba, as well as several North American influences, resulting in a free-style, highly-syncopated style. The areíto later evolved into what is now known as songo.
The African Congolese people and culture. Considered one of the most influential African cultures throughout the Caribbean.
The rhythmic pattern played by the timbalero in the Danzón (popular before the 1950's). A style developed by Cuban timpanists, of playing beats on the shell or bead while the fingers of the other hand "filled in." This two measure pattern consisted of a steady stream of eigth notes played alternatively on various parts of the two timbales.
the barracks which were used as slave quarters in colonial Cuba' often: surrounding a courtyard.
Sacred hourglass-shaped drums of Yoruban/Nigerian origin used in the Santeria religious ceremonies. Their rhythms are based on a drum language which reproduces the tonal changes and speec patterns of the Yoruba language.
1. A religious gathering and festivity held to honor an Oricha. 2, A set of traditional drums made from hollowed palm tree logs with nailed-on skins which are tuned with heat and used in the Bembé ceremonies.
An Afro-Latin ballad form usually with romantic lyric content.
1. A folkloric songstyle (rhythm and dance) of Puerto Rico with predominantly African influence (commonly found in salsa repertoires) and adapted by Cortijo in the mid-1950's into a popular dance style as well as tataken up by salsa musicians. 2. Large barrel-shaped drums, similar to and shorter than the Cuban tumbadora (conga drum), used in the Bomba style.
1.The Spanish term for bass drum. 2.The bass drum used in the Rumba and other folkloric styles. 3. Term used to describe the "and of beat 2", or the second note of the three side of the clave rhythm. This is the note emphasized by the bass drum.
An adaptation of the European military bass drum, used in Cuba for Carnaval in styles such as the conga.
Small pair of single-headed drums attached by a thick piece of wood, tuned high in pitch and played while held between the player's legs. Originally, the bongo's drum heads (skins) were tacked-on, but later a system of tuneable hardware was attached. Today's bongos are made of either fiberglass or wood. Emanating from the Changui and Son tradition as the original drum of these styles, they perform a combination of timekeeping pattern and improvised, rhythmic variation or counterpoint within an ensemble. The larger of the two drums is called the hembra and the smaller macho. In many parts of Cuba bongo is the name used for timbales.
The bongo (and bell) player.
A clay jug originally used to import Spanish olive oil into the New World regions, it became one of the first bass instruments of the Son style.
Inventor of the Afro-Cuban rhythm called pilón.
Automobile break drums used as metal percussion sounds by the comparsas in the Cuban carnival.
1. Spanish term for horse. 2. In Afro-Latin music it is used to describe a rhythmic accompaniment that resembles in feel the trotting of a horse. 3. Rhythmic accompaniment to the Pachanga style.
Resonant wooden crates of various sizes (originally, to box and transport cod), used to play the early forms of Rumba. They are still used today by folkloric ensembles.
Also called the Bongo Bell, or Cencerro, the large handheld bell is played by the bongoceroduring the Montuno section of an arrangement in dance ensembles and mounted and played by the Palito player during some Rumbas.
Peasant people. Sometimes referred to as Guajiros.
Spanish songstyle focusing primarily on the lyrics/melody and a simple guitar accompaniment (often referred to as trova), it became one of the fundamental components in the development of the Son style.
The people of the African Calabar region. They were primarily the founders and proponents of the Abacuá (Abakwa) societies in Cuba.
The Christian pre-Lent celebration usually lasting from three days to a week.
1. The Spanish word for shell. 2. The term used to describe the wooden shells of the early timbales, still used today to describe the shell of any timbal. 3. Term used for the rhythmic pattern played on the sides (shell) of the timbales. Also referred to as Paila.
The smaller of the two heads of the batá drums.
The small bell mounted on the timbales and used for the Chachachá, Guajira and similar styles.
A dance and musical style evolving from the Nuevo Ritmo of the Danzón style. As a dance, "Cha cha" became popular in the 1950' and 60's and is descended from Mambo.
1. The early predecessors to the Son groups using original instrumentation of guiro, maracas, bongo, tres and marimbula. Some ensembles still perform today. 2. The early style of Son performed by these groups.
Former percussionist for Orquesta Aragon and Los Van Van, inventor of the Cuban song styles merensongo and songo and the Afro-Cuban feel called timba songo layé.
A Cuban musical group, developed in the early 20th century, which played danzón and danzonete, and later chachachá. 1. Ensembles: Cuban groups that interpret the Danzónstyle. 2. Initially called Charanga Francesa, European influenced in their instrumentation of woodwinds, strings section and rhythm section of string bass, European tympani (which later became the timbales), and guiro. 3. General term for the music played by these ensembles.
The smallest of the mounted timbale bells, used for the "Tipico"Charanga style.
A rhythmic break, either an arranged ensemble passage or only played by the percussion in either arranged or improvised fashion, usually played as a transition between sections of a piece.
1. A five note pattern derived from the Cuban contradanza. 2. A five note group of notes derived from the Son clave pattern that is both a part of the baqueteo - the timbaleaccompaniment to the Danzón - as well as a common rhythmic articulation in both arranged and improvised performance. The term also describes the interpretive performance, or "stretching," of the five notes of the clave pattern. This interpretation can also be applied to the Tresillo.
1. Instrument - Pair of polished wooden sticks used to play the rhythm called Clave. The larger of the two sticks is called the hembra and the smaller macho.
2. Rhythm - A five-note, two-bar rhythm pattern which generates rhythmic measurement, and is the foundation and backbone of Salsa (or all popular Afro-Cuban music). There are 4 common rhythms, the Rumba and Son clave and a 6/8 (or "Afro") variation of each. In "Salsa," the Son Clave is prevalent. Clave rhythm is the basis of Afro-Latin musical styles and is considered the key, the identity, the root, and the "soul" of the music. It is the main organizing principle, the "metronome" of all the music, to which every element of arrangement and improvisation must be aligned. Clave is the primary pulse, the first rule, and the main factor that defines "Salsa."
3. Dance Timing - Most authentic, musically connected, or culturally/traditionally trained dancers use the clave as a focal point in salsa music to stay in time to the foundation and "soul" of the music, allowing for a natural appearance and rhythmic, free expression of the music.
One of the three Rumba styles, it is played in 6/8, sung with a combination of Spanish and African lyrics and traditionally danced only by men in a dance often depicting a challenge to each other. Played with the tumbadoras, guataca or cowbell and clave and sometimes shekerés and bombo.
Type of Latin ensemble developed in the 1950's through the influence of the jazz groups and big bands that employed the drum set, bass, piano in the jazz rhythm section format along with all of the standard Latin percussion of timbales (played by the drum set player), congas and the like. They also employed saxophones and sometimes guitar.
The specific musical group which plays the conga during carnival. 1. A musical gathering, dance and parade taking place primarily during the Cuban Carnival. 2. Term sometimes (incorrectly) used to describe the music that accompanies this dance and parade - the Conga.
The musical instrumentation and style that accompanies the Comparsa, it is also a style developed, performed and integrated by ensembles separate from the Carnaval Comparsas. Sometimes the style is referred to by regional interpretation - as in Conga Habanera or Conga Santiguera.
The Havana style of the Cuban carnival rhythm, called conga.
The Santiago style of the Cuban carnival rhythm, called conga.
Also called Tumbadoras, the single headed, hollowed Cuban drums derived from the Congolese Makuta drums. Initially made from hollowed logs with cowhides nailed or strung on, they are now made of wood and fiberglass with mass-produced hardware and heads.
A conga player.
A style of Latin ensemble developed in the 1940's. It evolved from the Septetoinstrumentation and was another interpretation of the Son styles. Originally consisting of the tres, contrabass, bongos, brass, and vocalists, who played clave, maracas and guiro. Later the guitar, piano and congas were added.
Literally, the "country dance," this 18th century style of Cuban music was influenced by the European court (most likely from the French "contredanse," originally a possible mispronunciation of its predecessor, the English "country dance"). This European musical and dance form was the predecessor to the Danza, Danza Habanera and, most significantly, the classic Danzón style.
The Chinese trumpet used in the early Carnaval Comparsas and the first bass instrument to be added to the Sexteto ensembles, creating the Septeto.
Córo is chorus and the Córo Pregón is the call-and-response between the lead vocal, the Pregón - which is generally improvised - and the chorus, the Córo - which is generally arranged or a fixed part. It is a principal structural element of the Son and became a part of the traditional commercial Latin dance form via the Montuno section of an arrangement.
A Spanish word meaning "conversation." In Batá performance, the conversation and interaction that takes place between the Iyá (the lead or mother drum) and the Itótele (the middle drum).
Descended from the Guataca, these instruments include the timbale mounted bells (Mambo, Cha-Cha, Charanga), Campana, Agogo and Comparsa bells. The patterns performed on these bells, when used either alone or simultaneously, make up most of the metallic percussive rhythms of Afro-Cuban popular music.
Guitar-like instrument derived from the Cuban Tres but containing four sets of two strings. Primarily associated with Puerto Rican styles.
The Spanish word for "spoons," initially used to play the palitos accompaniment to the Cajones in the early Rumba styles. Still used today in folkloric ensemble performances.
A Cuban song style and dance form derived from the Contradanza, Danza, Danza Habanera and interpreted by the Charanga orchestras and instrumentation. Originally an ABAC form (A-Paseo (introduction), B-Flute melody, A-repeat of the Paseo, C-String Trio). Later a D section (the Nuevo Ritmo) was added creating and ABACD form. This D section integrated elements of the Cuban Son and spawned the Mambo as well as developments of the Montuno section of arrangements and later the Cha-Cha-Cha.
The ten line verse structure common to the Spanish Canción, it served as he traditional verse structure of the Cuban Son.
An instrumental improvisation or "jam session." Spanish word for "unloading."
A vocal introduction (sometimes arranged, sometimes improvised); call-and-response style used in some Rumba styles.
The Spanish name given to the East Harlem section of New York City in the 1920's and 30's after the migration and settlement of vast numbers of Puerto Rican and Cuban people in this area. Another term for "Spanish Harlem."
A vocal refrain or chorus, the term applies particularly to the vocal choruses of the Son style.
1. Latin-American slang term used for a bus or van. 2. The term used for the hollowed bamboo piece that is mounted and used to play Palitos patterns. The Gua-Gua is said to "drive the ensemble."
One of the three Rumba styles, it is a medium to fast style played on the tumbadoras or cajones along with the clave, palitos, bombo and shekerés and danced traditionally by a male and a female depicting the sexual "capture" of the female by the male with a thrust called the Vacunáo.
Originally the term used to describe the repeated rhythmic figure of the Tres in the Changuiand Son styles, it was later also used to desribe the same function by the string section in the Charangas and later the Moñas of the horn section.
1. A songstyle originating with the Campesinos containing elements of the Spanish Canciónand the Cuban Son. It is societally somewhat of a parallel to the Blues of America. The lyric content is sometimes sad or longing, nostalgic or expressing the difficulties of an impoverished life-style. 2. Slang term for a Cuban peasant woman.
A slang term for a (male) Cuban peasant and sometimes used as a term for a cowboy type peasant farmer or rancher.
A secondary rhythm step in clave-based dances, used by experienced rhythm dancers as an accent when appropriate to the segment of music. The break step on "2" (or in dance count either "2" or "6") is delayed a half beat, stepping instead on the "and" before "3." A specific syncopation, most frequently applied to Chachachá.
1. Traditionally an ealy form of street peasant music with satirical lyric content somewhat in the Son rhythm style. 2. Loose term for a general medium tempo Son Montuno or little brighter style tune or groove.
Hoe blade used in the conga de Comparsa. A hoe blade (played with a large nail or railroad spike) used to play what later became Cowbell accompaniments to the Rumba Columbiaand other folkloric Afro 6/8 styles. Folkloric ensembles still use this instrument.
A larger version of the guiro.
Term used to describe guiros with finer ridges, particularly those found in some Puerto Rican styles.
The term used to describe the metal scraper (guiro, scraped with a metal fork or Afro comb) used in the Dominican Merengue style.
A serrated gourd, scraped with a stick, very popular in Afro-Cuban, as well as other Latin American countries, music. 1. (Instrument) Calabash gourd with ridges carved
Style emanating from the Contradanza and Danza, it was the final precursor to the Danzón style.
The female, larger of any two paired percussive instruments (bongos, clave, timbales,etc).
Term used to describe the Guataca - the hoe blade - or other metal sound used as the cowbell accompaniment to the Rumba Columbia and other folkloric Afro 6/8 styles.
The middle drum of the set of three Batá drums.
A set of four sacred, cylindrical, two-headed drums of hand-carved cedar, played with sticks.
The lead, and largest, drum (mother drum, Iyá Ilú) of the set of three Batá drums.
See Pello el Afrokán.
- K -
The call used in Batá performance to begin a playing of to begin a conversation between the Iyá and the Itótele.
The term used as the name of the Yoruban people in Cuba as well as their language and religion.
The male, smaller of any two paired percussive instruments (bongos, clave, timbales,etc).
Umbrella term for popular dance and hybrid music style, developed in the 40's and 50's. 1. The musical section that evolved in the late 1930's and 1940's from the Nuevo Ritmo of the Danzón. 2. An up tempo Afro-Cuban musical style that evolved in the 1940's and 50's as a blending of the Mambo section, elements of the Son and some influences of American Jazz orchestras. 3. A section of an arrangement usually following or developing from the Montunosection featuring new arranged (or sometimes improvised) material such as Moñas in the horn section. 4. The Afro-Cuban dance of the same name popularized in New York and sometimes called Salsa.
The bell played by the timbalero in mambo style songs.
A style using hands and fingers developed by early Cuban tympanists.
Canister rattles with handles originally made from gourds or rawhide and filled with beads, pebbles, seeds or the like. Hand held and played in pairs.
Literally "march," the name sometimes given to the conga part.
A large resonant wooden box with a (kalimba-like) thumb piano constructed over an opening in the box. It is of Congolese Bantú origin and was the original bass instrument in the Changui groups. The player sits on the box and plucks at the metal keys and strikes rythmic figures on the box itself.
1. Spanish word for hammer. 2. The name of the rhythm played on the Bongos. It is primarily a timekeeping pattern but the performance in an ensemble includes many inprovised variations called repiques.
Songstyle of the Domincan Republic. Generally fast in tempo. Traditionally played on the Tambora, Guira and Accordian, current ensembles feature a full rhythm section, alto saxophones and trumpets, congas and sometimes drum set.
An Afro-Cuban feel invented by Changuito.
1. Section of an arrangement featuring the Córo/Pregón of the lead vocalist and chorus as well as instrumental solos. 2. Term used to describe the repeated syncopated vamp played by the piano.
Layered parts played by the horn section featuring staggered entrances, layered and contrapuntal parts and generally a building intensity. Usually introduced during the Mambosection. They are generally written but sometimes improvised.
An Afro-Cuban rhythm invented by Pedro Izquierdo (Pello el Afrokán), at first used bin the Cuban carnival, later popularized by Eddie Palmieri in New York.
The D section added to the end of the Danzón in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Created by bassist/composer Irael "Cachao" Lopez it served as the takeoff point for the Mambo,montuno section and later the Cha-Cha.
The smallest of the set of three Batá drums, it serves primarily as the timekeeper.
Deities of the pantheistic Santeria and other African, Afro-Latin and Afro-Caribbean based religion.
A Cuban musical group used to perform the contradanza. Orchestras that were the traditional interpreters of the early forms of the various Danzas. Their instrumentation consisted of woodwinds, brass, strings, the guiro and the traditional European tympani.
A rhythm style created by Eduardo Davison in Santiago, the capitol of the Oriente province of Cuba.
A vessel of iron or copper used in the sugar cane factories of Cuba; another name given to timbales. (CS) 1. Anoather name for the timbales, sometimes used to describe a pair that is smaller than the larger orchestra timbales. 2. Paila is also a term used to describe the sides or shells of the timbales. "Play paila" means play the sides or play cáscara.
Smaller in size than the paila, these instruments allowed the performer to sit while he played.
Literally"sticks"; the sticks and pattern played during rumba. Pair of sticks traditionally used to play Gua-Gua that accompanies the Rumba styles. 2. The name of the patterns played on the Gua-Gua. In nontraditional settings the patterns can be played on any wood sound.
The name of the (jingle-less) tambourines used in the Puerto Rican Plena style.
The A section (introduction) to the Danzón form.
Invented the Afro-Cuban rhythm called Mozambique.
A rhythm invented by Enrique Bonne in the eastern province of Cuba.
A folkloric Puerto Rican songstyle traditionally played on the Panderetas. The lyric content often deals with social or political statements, criticisms or satire.
Instrument made from the jawbone of a donkey or mule and played by striking the lower jaw against the upper producing a sharp rattle effect. Today's Vibra-Slap was made to replicate the sound of the traditional Quijada.
The middle drum part in the Conga Style (Conga, Rebajador, Salidor).
The lead drum in the Bomba style.
Three forms: Guaguancó, Yambú, and Columbia. An Afro-Cuban musical form comprised of drumming, call-and-response vocals and dancing.
A style of Rumba from southern Spain which greatly influenced the development of the Cuban Rumba styles.
A participant in the tradition of Rumba
1. Generic term, developed in the late sixties-early 1970's, used to describe the blending of numerous specific music styles into dance orchestra arrangements. The one common element in the musical structure is the rhythm pattern of the clave 2. A common umbrella term used to describe the dance that is done to Salsa music (also see mambo). 3. Spanish word for sauce.
1. One who is a follower or participant in salsa 2. A name given to musicians in a specific area of Cuba
The pantheistic religion of the Yoruban/Nigerian pople and the Yoruban/Lucumi culture of Cuba, as well as of Afro-Caribbean and others throughout the world. Marked by the multi-deity concept of various Orishas and the use of the Batá drums in the ritual ceremonies.
Small frying pans welded together and used as bells for patterns in the Conga/ComparsaCarnaval styles. They originated as makeshift descendants of the African Agogo bell.
The name used to describe the second or middle drum (the Tres Golpes) in the set of three used in the Rumba styles. Also loosely used to describe the second drum in a pair or the middle drum in a set of three.
The initial form of Son group emanating from the Changui groups consisting of the tres, contrabass, guitar, bongos, maracas and clave with vocals. (Most prominent was the Sexteto Habanero founded in 1920).
(Alternate Spelling--chekere) Calabash gourds strung with beads, used for percussion.
The freestyle, and many times syncopated, footwork usually done while dancing mambo or chachachá in open dance position.
The name given to the sound played by the hand on the hembra, or low drum. From the Spanish word "sobar" - to rub. (CS)
Most influential Cuban style initiated in the second half of the nineteenth century in the eastern province of Oriente. It combines Spanish elements of the Canción style and instruments with African rhythm and percussion. Early forms were interpreted by the Campesinos and developed by the Changui groups.
A lead singer with the ability to improvise lyrics, relevant stories, and melodies.
Style emanating from the Son tradition, with richer rhythm.
Contemporary Cuban rhythm which is a combination of Rumba, Son and other folkloric styles. Its development has also been influenced by the American Jazz and funk styles as well as American approaches to the rhythm section instruments in these styles.
Barrel-shaped double-headed drum from the Dominican Republic used in the Merengue style. The drum is played with a stick which strikes one head and the wooden shell of the drum, and the hand which plays the opposite head.
The musician who plays the timbales (as a "drummer" plays the drumset).
Pair of tunable drums invented in Cuba. Mounted on a stand and played with sticks and some timekeeping strokes made with the hand on the lower drum. Measuring in sizes from 13" to 15" in diameter they are paired as 13" and 14" or 14" and 15". Initially used exclusively by the Charangas interpreting Danzón, they became part of the Latin orchestra in the 1940's and are now a mainstay and signature sound of many Afro-Latin styles. The standard set now includes cowbells, woodblocks and a cymbal. Timbales are the direct descendant of the European tympani. The larger of the two drums is called the hembra and the smaller macho. (CS)
Smaller and higher pitched versions of the standard timbales measuring in sizes from 9" to 12", they are usually added to the standard set for a setup of four drums and are mostly used in soloing.
Larger version of timbales, typically found in Charangas. (CS)
An Afro-Cuban feel invented by Changuito. (CS)
1. Spanish term for typical or traditional. 2. Term specifically used to describe the Orquesta Tipica. 3. Term informally used to describe traditional, folkloric or "classic" sound, instrumentation or approach to playing an instrument or style.
A smaller derivative of the Spanish guitar with either three sets of two strings or sometimes three sets of three strings. It is a key instrument and signature sound of the Changui and Son style.
Spanish term for triplet, it is used to describe the three note group of the three side of the clave when the rhythmic interpretation is "in the cracks" between the duple and triple meter. In the Son parallel of the Afro 6/8 clave, the rhythm is a literal triplet. In the Son clave it is an interpretive triplet. The tresillo functions the same as the cinquillo.
See Corneta China.
Another term used to describe a style of the Spanish Canción form, with the sensibility of the troubador style.
The single headed, hollowed Cuban drums derived fromt the Congolese Makuta drums. Initially made from hollowed logs with cowhides nailed or strung on, they are now made of wood and fiberglass with mass-produced hardware and heads. Also generically called Conga drums.
A folkloric style developed in the Oriente (eastern) province of Cuba, developed by Africans who departed Haiti after the Haitian Revolution in 1791. (CS) 1. Style of music of Dahomean roots originally developed in the eastern province of Oriente byt the slaves who emigrated to Cuba after the Haitian Revolution in 1791. The drums are used to play the style.(EU)
The repeated pattern played by the tumbadoras or drums. (CS) The standard timekeeping patterns performed by the bass and congas in the popular dance styles as the Son, Son Montuno, Guaracha, Mambo etc.
In Rumba Guaguancó, a thrust made by the male depicting sexual capture of the female.
A form of Rumba traditionally performed on the Cajones. It is a slow to medium tempo duple meter style and is danced by male-female couples but does not include Vacunáo of the Rumba Guaguancó.
Term used to describe the Nigerian (Yoruba) people, their language, folklore and musical styles. It is one of the most influential African populations in Cuba, the Caribbean and northern South America, particularly the northern regions of Brazil.