Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo [NOOK Book]


This entertaining history of Cuba and its music begins with the collision of Spain and Africa and continues through the era of Miguelito Valdés, Arsenio Rodríguez, Benny Moré, and Pérez 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 ...
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Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo

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This entertaining history of Cuba and its music begins with the collision of Spain and Africa and continues through the era of Miguelito Valdés, Arsenio Rodríguez, Benny Moré, and Pérez 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 Andalucía, 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 Santería, Palo, Abakuá, and Vodú; and much more.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you're not an expert on Cuban music, you will be by the time you finish Ned Sublette's unequaled treatment of this most unexamined (in English, at least) subject. A musical explorer who has visited Cuba dozens of times in the past 14 years, run a Cuban music label, and fronted what's probably the world's only salsa-country band, Sublette tells three stories in this hefty volume, stories that have not been told particularly well in this country up to now. The first concerns the African musical diaspora, which of course makes up the lion's share of both Cuban and American music. The varied expression of these African roots in the United States and its Caribbean neighbors is the jumping-off point for a fascinating discussion of African cosmology, history, and musical traditions, as well as the slave trade. The dozens of pages that Sublette devotes to detailing ethnic migrations across the African continent is perhaps the most concise encapsulation of Africa's precolonial history that casual readers will come across. Alone, it provides an invaluable understanding of a wide swath of music history, from flamenco to jazz to Cuba's many rhythms. Concurrently, Sublette tells the history of Cuba -- again, a subject little known in this country, where relations with "the pearl of the Antilles" went south nearly a half century ago. Cuba and Its Music follows the story up until 1952; even without engaging the divisive topic of Fidel Castro, Sublette's book is shocking. The U.S.-backed kleptocracy of 20th-century Cuba is laid bare in a scenario that will be hauntingly familiar to anyone reading about Iraq today. Finally, of course, this book tells the story of Cuban music, tracing the long roots of its Spanish, African, Native American, and French antecedents. From dock-working rumba groups to the modernist lights of the concert hall, Sublette makes a compelling narrative from a dizzying riot of musical forms. He not only puts the careers of the Buena Vista Social Club, Celia Cruz, and Desi Arnáz in perspective but also provides a field guide to an island overflowing with music. Of the many things this invaluable guide does masterfully is to inspire voracious listening. With engaging writing, coherent arguments, and enviably thorough research, Cuba and Its Music is the best kind of popular scholarship. Even longtime aficionados of Latin music will hear their favorite records with fresh ears after this read. Very highly recommended. Mark Schwartz
Approachable both for readers new to the country's rich musical history and for devotees who have already succumbed to its rhythms.
Global Rhythm Magazine
Told with humor, affection and authority, this destined to become one of the definitive texts on the subject.
New York Times
A magnificent labor of love and advocacy...Remarkably thorough yet genially readable.
New West Indian Guide
"Ned Sublette knows what he is saying and how to say it."
The Village Voice
The most thorough and colorful argument for just how elemental Cuban music has been to American culture.”
LA Weekly
Casually mind-blowing . . . this belongs on your shelf between Joseph Campbell and Alexis de Tocqueville.
Jazz Times
A stunning achievement, immensely valuable to Afro-Cuban music newbies and experts alike.
Rolling Stone
The most daring, thorough, and lively social history of music ever attempted.
The most ambitious of the recent studies of Cuban music . . . Essential.
Afropop Worldwide
A work of radical obsession, driven by a profound love of Cuban music.
Publishers Weekly
As the cofounder of the important Cuban music label Qbadisc and coproducer of public radio's Afropop Worldwide, Sublette is a well-known figure among elite mambo aficionados. Still, the sheer size and historical precision that makes this volume essential is a bit surprising coming from this proud nonacademic. The first two chapters, for instance, offer a fascinating narrative that explains the complex formulation of Iberian culture, beginning with the appearance of Phoenician traders in what is now the southern Spanish city of C diz in 1104 B.C. When the Cuban story finally kicks in with chapter five, Sublette makes the most of his prehistory to create a visceral and astute vision of the island as incubator of musical revolution. Most of the story has been told before, but rarely in such painstaking detail, and Sublette's easygoing and engaging writing style makes the reading almost painless, although sometimes his analysis is overly determined by politics. His most important accomplishment is combining information from rarely translated musicological works from Cuba with data from his active involvement with surviving giants of the music to produce one sustained, living history. Given all this, it is odd that he ends the book so abruptly, in 1952, especially since he has participated so much in the music's recent permutations. While not exactly for beginners, this book is a solid, supremely lush effort. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Magesterial . . . absorbing . . .fascinating . . . enlightening . . . compulsively readable pages . . . anyone [interested in Cuban music] should be reading this right now.
Library Journal
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 Caribbean isles, and Central, South, and North America from the 16th century to 1952 to document Cuban music's wide influence. While paying particular attention to societal changes, he describes in great detail how the music of certain African regions was brought over to the New World and helped produce the rhythmic and dynamic music of Cuba (which, in turn, influenced ragtime, jazz, and rhythm & blues, a point that will be traced fully in Volume 2). His grand scope is a reminder of how little most Americans know about their nearby neighbor and its culture, and though not novel, this point deserves reiteration. Sublette's accessible writing should appeal to a popular as well as a scholarly audience. Maya Roy's recent Cuban Music makes similar historical and sociological connections, but it lacks the depth and accessibility of Sublette's book. A welcome addition to the very small field of books available on Cuban music.-Bill Walker, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"As enthralling as it is comprehensive, [Sublette's] book breathes life and fire into the whole history of Cuban music."  —Bonnie Raitt

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569764206
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 414,461
  • File size: 10 MB

Meet the Author

Ned Sublette is the cofounder of the Qbadisc record label. He has coproduced the public radio program Afropop Worldwide for seven years and travels frequently to Cuba.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
About the Terminology, and More xiv
Part I Before Cuba
1 The Highest-Priced Slaves 3
2 Drums of War 20
3 "We Have Always Had the Drum" 38
4 Zarabanda's Mambo 48
Part II Colonial Cuba
5 The Areito and the Romance 61
6 By Post from the Indies 73
7 The Shipyard 84
8 The Fertile Crescent 98
9 The Atlantis of the Caribbean 113
10 Buying Whites and Selling Blacks: A Contradanza 125
11 La Nuit des Tropiques 141
Part III Afro-Cuba
12 The Western and Central Sudanic Blues 159
13 The Congo That Was Cuba 175
14 A Secret Language, for Men Only 190
15 Hiding in Plain Sight 206
Part IV Insurgent Cuba
16 The Romance of Revolution 235
17 Rumba 257
18 Fire 273
Part V The Plattist Republic
19 Marti's Monster 287
20 Guitar and Piano 297
21 If He Bathes, He Splashes You 312
22 The Tango Age 323
23 Tres and Bongo 333
24 The Dance of the Millions 347
25 The Son Boom 362
26 The Mulata Love Triangles 379
27 The Peanut Vendor 392
28 The Fall 403
Part VI Batista in Power
29 The Revolution of 1933 419
30 The Liberation of the Drum 431
31 Nague, Nague, Nague, Nague 459
32 Mano a Mano 478
Part VII The Autentico Years
33 Diablo! 503
34 Life Is a Dream 524
35 Mambo Number Five 547
36 Television 567
Coda 585
Suggested Listening 587
Notes 590
Bibliography 615
Acknowledgments 645
Index 648
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    History of music and history of the country

    An encyclopedic history of Cuban music up to1952. The non-musical parts of the history is sometimes too glib for a historian and the musical history sometimes too technical and detailed for the non-musiian. But Sublette overall does a fine job of showing the development of Cuban music over time and its deep influences on pre-Rock American popular music.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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