Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo

Front Cover
Chicago Review Press, Feb 1, 2007 - History - 688 pages
1 Review
This entertaining history of Cuba and its music begins with the collision of Spain and Africa and continues through the era of Miguelito Valdes, Arsenio Rodriguez, Benny More, and Perez Prado. It offers a behind-the-scenes examination of music from a Cuban point of view, unearthing surprising, provocative connections and making the case that Cuba was fundamental to the evolution of music in the New World. The ways in which the music of black slaves transformed 16th-century Europe, how the "claves" appeared, and how Cuban music influenced ragtime, jazz, and rhythm and blues are revealed. Music lovers will follow this journey from Andalucia, the Congo, the Calabar, Dahomey, and Yorubaland via Cuba to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saint-Domingue, New Orleans, New York, and Miami. The music is placed in a historical context that considers the complexities of the slave trade; Cuba's relationship to the United States; its revolutionary political traditions; the music of Santeria, Palo, Abakua, and Vodu; and much more.

What people are saying - Write a review

Cuba and its music: from the first drums to the mambo

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this fascinating first volume of a two-part chronicle, Sublette, a musician, self-made scholar, radio show host, and record producer based in New York City, ranges across Africa, Spain, the ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The most thorough books that I have found about the creation and influence that Cuban music has had in the U.S. Great book, very dense but great! :)


Part II Colonial Cuba
Part III AfroCuba
Part IV Insurgent Cuba
Part V The Plattist Republic
Part VI Batista in Power
Part VII The Auténtico Years
Suggested Listening

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 40 - They show that .a perpetual and impassable barrier was intended to be erected between the white race and the one which they had reduced to slavery, and governed as subjects with absolute and despotic power, and which they then looked upon as so far below them in the scale of created beings, that intermarriages between white persons and negroes or mulattoes were regarded as unnatural and immoral, and punished as crimes...
Page 40 - ... scale of created beings, that intermarriages between white persons and negroes or mulattoes were regarded as unnatural and immoral, and punished as crimes, not only in the parties, but in the person who joined them in marriage. And no distinction in this respect was made between the free negro or mulatto and the slave, but this stigma, of the deepest degradation, was fixed upon the whole race.
Page 45 - Songs were and are the prime carriers of history among this non-literate folk. In recounting the ritual associated with the giving of offerings to the souls of those who were transported into slavery, this function of song came out with great clarity. The informant at one point could not recall the sequence of important names in the series he was giving. Under his breath, to the accompaniment of clicking finger-nails, he began to sing, continuing his song for some moments. When he stopped he had...
Page 14 - The Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because (Negroes) have little (that is essentially) human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2007)

Ned Sublette is the co-founder of the Qbadisc record label. He has co-produced the public radio program 'Afropop Worldwide' for seven years and travelled frequently to Cuba since 1990. He lives in New York City.

Bibliographic information