I have listened to the performance of the Buena Vista Social Club from Havana and enjoyed every minute of it. The Buena Vista Social Club is an ensemble established in 1996. It was created by a group of enthusiasts who sought to create a community that would be able to revive the music styles, the instruments, and even the atmosphere of the performances of pre-revolutionary Cuba. I find the idea fascinating, and it was a pleasure to watch the singers who are dedicated not only to the current version of their culture but to its history as well.
The Buena Vista Social Club tries to find veteran musicians so that the music sound would be authentic. To be honest, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the recording despite the mediocre quality of the video. Moreover, it seems to me that playing this kind of music in a more formal atmosphere undermines the passion and the joy it radiates. I believe that the rich musical traditions of Cuba play an enormous role in Cuban identity. It is hard not to be proud of the music styles that have been played and danced to for two centuries already. I would like to see more similar places founded worldwide, as it can be a perfect option to help struggling communities preserve their identities. It will provide them with the opportunity to show the features of their cultures in pure form, at least to ancestors and tourists.
The most popular styles in the Club are son, bolero, and danzón. Most of the genres of Cuban music are of syncretic nature and feature musical traditions and musical instruments from various regions of the world. The rhythms, drums, and shekeré make most of the songs I listened to sound African. I did not expect that the piano would play a vital role in every composition. The complexity of the drums and shakers the musicians used also impressed me. It was exciting to listen to the African congas, batás, and the European timbales and distinguish between various drum sounds, all of which contribute to the joyful and relaxing atmosphere.
The recording taught me the art of clave, which can represent not only a musical instrument but also a special rhythm and rhythmical concept. I learned that the musical styles of Cuba differ significantly from those in other Latin American countries. One of the distinctive features of Cuban music is the clave rhythm, which is played throughout the composition without any alterations. This ensures that the music stays extremely rhythmic and predictable, making dancing to it for several hours an easy task. All the musical instruments copy the two-bar rhythm, as the clave rhythm is two bars in length, where one bar always has two notes, while another has three.
I have been surprised by the fact that my vision of Cuban music used to be extremely narrow-minded and stereotypical. I made a little investigation after I realized I had listened to the type of music I was not prepared to when I had chosen the genre. Moreover, I did not know that some of my friends’ favorite songs, which I also like, are Cuban. For instance, there is a Buena Vista Social Club record “Chan Chan”. I used to listen to the song many times, but, for some reason, I did not realize how Cuban it was. I am thankful for the opportunity to enhance my knowledge of that type of music.