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From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz$
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Raul Fernandez

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247079

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247079.001.0001

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Ontology of the Son

Ontology of the Son

(p.22) Chapter Two Ontology of the Son
From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz

Raul A. Fernandez

University of California Press

The twentieth century witnessed the growth, spread, synthesis, and resynthesis of the most popular and influential genre of Cuban dance music styles, son, that went on to provide the foundation for a number of dance trends, such as the rumba and the mambo. This chapter examines the characteristics, history, and development of the genre in its various manifestations: as a dance, as poetry, and as instrumental form. Although disagreements persist, son is most often seen as a product of the uniquely isolated yet multicultural province of Oriente, a province that appears as an appropriate site for the development of this powerful form of New World Creole music. Examining the date of its arrival and popularization in Havana in the early 1920s is considered a useful way to approach its possible birth date. Son was born not at a concert but at a dance, and the sounds of its instruments and the vocal parts were part of a whole that allowed people to round out the picture with their body movements. Jazz and the Cuban son merged in the last half of the twentieth century to produce a fun and dynamic hybrid of hybrids that came to be known as Latin jazz. Like its African and Spanish ancestors, it is several things at once: an instrumental music, a popular song, and a people's dance.

Keywords:   Son, Oriente, Jazz, Cuban dance music, Creole music

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