In this episode, I dug up an old class I took in Havana Cuba with Andres Rodriguez discussing Cuban son and it’s origins.
This was likely recorded on a very bad DAT or Cassette recorder but it is what it is. Hopefully there is some use for you.
Okay. Now, we can begin speaking about son. The thing is to know where it came from, very generally speaking. Now, son … I would like to explain some things that there is a lot of confusion about. When was the first … when did … son was born. And also there is a lot of mistakes that very recently Cuban historians and people who dedicate themselves to gather this information have discovered there’s a lot of mistakes on books written many years ago.
Maybe you have heard that the first Cuban son was something like El Son de la Ma Teodora. This is very common. You can hear this everywhere, El Son de la Ma Teodora. Son de la Ma … This means mother, Mother Teodora, La Ma Teodora. It’s called … It says nobody can actually say which is the exact date for the birth of son but during a very large period of time, history … the Cuban historians said that it … There was a document published in 1893 by Laureano Fuentes where he said that this Son de la Ma Teodora was the first son. It was composed by two sisters, Micaela and Teodora Gines. These were the two sisters. They were two nuns. Teodora was the one who wrote this song or anyway one of them two … The two sisters wrote Son de la Ma Teodora. So they say this happened as far away as in the 16th century. Good.
Nowadays, we know this is a great mistake because what is important to know is that Cuban nationality and Cuban culture only was born on the second half of the 18th century. Before that there was no Cuban culture. So this is a big mistake. And now, what we … most of the people who do research, they say that they doubt that Son de la Ma Teodora existed at all. They think that this was a mistake by Laureano Fuentes taking a tune of last century … that was last century that sounded in some ways a variation of [inaudible 00:03:05]. He made a mistake. Even they felt that Teodora Gines ever existed herself. Yet, nothing is for sure. I say because you are going to be reading a lot of books and maybe even in, I don’t know, movies and things, this Son de la Ma Teodora. Now, we say it’s not true.
Now, the real truth is that son begins in the countryside and very specifically in the mountains. This is one thing in theory. Another one is that they have a … It was born in many places of the country at the same time. But everybody agrees that this happened on the second half of the 18th century.
And, now, we’re going to hear an example of son Sierra Maestra. Sierra Maestra is our biggest, highest mountains. And deep inside each woods, the mountains, these are recordings I’ve taken. It’s a party. It’s named nengon, nengon, nengon. Nengon is one of the names for son. You’ll hear there’s a … Changui is another name for a style of son and so on. So you can hear … That’s why son is a big group of different dances. Let’s hear this. Note how the transition from this African came to this. It’s very interesting. (music). It sounds African. [inaudible 00:04:48] the first son. [inaudible 00:04:56].