Rebellious Rhythms

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent,” said the great French writer Victor Hugo. Yet there are so many ways to express oneself musically. We can be restrained and elegant, loud and angry and sometimes rhythmic and rebellious. The soul of Latin music and in particular the music of Cuba contains all of these qualities and then some.

On January 30th at 3:30 in the Cole Auditorium of the Greenwich Library visitors can look forward to an concert of Cuban Music. Ignacio Berroa, a Cuban émigré, has performed with many of Jazz and Latin music’s most distinguished artists including Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie and Tito Puente. In 2007 Berroa’s debut album was nominated for a Grammy. The program promises to be very rhythmic, filled with dancing beats and elegant mambo swings: An event not to be missed! For more information log on to

Cuban music has its principal roots in Spain and Africa, but over time has been influenced by diverse genres from different countries. Most important among these are France, the United States, and Jamaica. Reciprocally, Cuban music has been immensely influential in other countries, contributing not only to the development of jazz and salsa, but also to Argentinean tango, Ghanaian high-life, West African Afrobeat, and Spanish “nuevo flamenco” musical genres.

Today, popular Cuban music and dance styles include salsa, son, rumba, mambo, and cha-cha-cha. The instruments used include the claves, maracas, guiro, cowbells, thumb piano, various drums, including bongos and a large conga. Some European-style instruments may also be used. In Cuban music, a special rhythm played on the claves (called the clave rhythm) sets the tempo and maintains it.

There are many different kinds of salsa music and dance in Cuba. Most of these styles are derived from the son sub-genre. Son developed in eastern rural areas of Cuba around the turn of the twentieth century, but traces of it date back to the 1700’s. Son is a distinctly Afro-Cuban musical style because it uses an African rhythm, also called son, Spanish poetic styles in the lyrics, and the use of plucked instruments including guitars. Son is a part of much of Cuban music.

Perhaps the true beauty of Cuban music is its ability to merge so many different styles. It is more than music, it’s audiable history, and it is this musical metissage which I find so alluring and so deeply beautiful. Whether or not you are a Cuban music fan, if you happen to attend this concert I doubt you will be able to resist the infectious rhythms, the dancing innuendoes, or the beauty of the music.

Victoria Baker of Greenwich is an opera singer. A winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists across the world (notably at Lincoln Center). She teaches piano & voice privately in Greenwich. For questions that deserve answers, and may be in print, please call (203) 531-7499 or send e-mail to [email protected]



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