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thnic Folkways Library olkways Records FE 4410


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1681 C9 C968 1951


Three Views of Havana by S A. Cohner, 1910



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In the Lucumi group sur vive religious beliefs of the Yoruba people who came from the region of West Africa that lies between the Niger River and the NigeriaTogolandborder. Obatala. at least. Guanabacoa. while other s are sur vivals of secret organizations which existed previously on the African continent. to this day. M 17 W. music. USA C9 1681 C%8 1951 MllSIC LP CULT MUSIC OF CUBA The African slave trade continued in Cuba well into the 19th century.. Introduction and Notes on the recordings by Harold Courlander The folk music of Cuba is generally unknown outside of that country. For most of us the term "Afr o=Cuban" evokes thoughts of the Conga. Folk music they may be. African traditions have survived strongly.. organized by the Afro-Cubans. god of iron and war. Until only a few decades ago there were some among the older generation whose parents actually were born in Africa. in cooperation with Columbia University's Archive of Primitive Music. A great many of these societies have a religious basis. But it is a matter of great interest that there really . even pure African. 1966 Folkways Records & Service Corp. For years there has been a controversy in Cuban musical circles as to the origins of the national musical idiom. They include Legua (or Etcho). Likewise. the Abakwa and the Kimbisa. but with a thick overlay of sophistication and invention. C. the river deity. Otchun (or Panchagara). yet in the main they are not "AfroCuban". in some respects. These recordings were made in Havana.ETHNIC FOLKWAYS LIBRARY FE 4410 ©1949. god of the sea. still hear fragments of very old Iberian music that has little in common with the popular city music. among their Negro neighbors one could hear true Afro-Cuban. Otchosi. Orula. most of whom are common to both areas. Such forms represent a considerable hybridization. The musical instruments used by the Lucumi are drums. during a field trip sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies. N. and Matanzas Province in 1940. and this album presents some of its aspects. deity of storm and lightning. or white peasant farmers. the Lucumi have a pantheon of spirit-gods or Orisha. Chango. or societies. guardian of the crossroads. and a few aged people in the country who claimed to have been born in Africa. Yemaya (or Yalode). Among the more important African cults existing in Cuba are the Lucumi. From a social point of view the final issue of that controversy is not important. . Y. the Arara. Ogun. large calabash rattles with external bead strikers. Music and dancing of the African variety have persisted in the cabildos. god of the mountains. and in particular instances it would be extremely difficult to find substantial African elements. Lucumi music is mainly devoted to supplication and praise of these supernatural beings. and the Son. 60th St. and many others. any more than boogie-woogie is "Afro-American". the Rhumba. one could until fairly recently. As with the African Yoruba. the curer. Among the Guahiros. is such a thing as Afro-Cuban music. the hunter god. and various kinds of bells.

its secrets are carefully guarded. Ensambia. from one of the Congodialects. Drums ar e the main instruments for Congo music. confiscated drums and other paraphernalia. and Abakwa seems to be derived from Abakpa. It is -2- The Kimbisa or Mayombe cult is only one of the many Congo groups knownto have existed in Cuba. the Arara cult has its pantheon of spirit-beings. Loango. Mondongo. and imprisoned cult priests as a law and order demonstration following the report of a disturbance or crime in the region.Significant facts in connection with the Abakwa cult is that while it is unquestionably an African cult its member ship is partially composed of whites. a river deity. Saravanda. Cult members complain that local police have frequently raided the cult temples. Carabali dancing is mainly pantomimic of animals. For many years the Afro-Cuban cults have suffered at the hands of local officialdom. and Bafiote. which is basically African. and friction drums are among the Abakwa musical instruments. probably because of the presence of a large number of Haitian immigrants in that section. Mosundi Congo Real. Tiemblaentoto. African-style bells and small hand rattles are used in making Arara mUSiC. Cumparsa scene showing double bell -all photos by Harold Courlander The Abakwa (or Carabali) group appears to be a secret society that cuts through other cults. seemingly. Marelango. . or in a hybrid linguistic combination. and Kenge. but usually they are not interfered with except at the whim and convenience of local officials. While Lucumi dancing stresses group participation and invocation. the name of a tribe from the Niger region. Drums. god of the ocean. the Arara is Dahomean. and it retains some of the dramatic elements of African magicoreligious life which are absent among the other Cuban cult groups. a ritual language. The cult is composed entirely of men. o Each of the cults retains. which is knownin Haiti as Arada. various African-style rattles. the Lucumi society as well. Spirit-dancers appear at cult functions to perform for the members. permitting a member to belong to. about one man out of every three participating in the ritual and singing was white. deity of the mountain. only two were Negroes. crossroad guardian. the curer. say. although sometimes a battery of large calabash or tin rattles with external strikers is employed. In . and the Kimbisa is. Probably one of the socially. The Lucumi vocabulary is Yoruba. Cult activities have been outlawed by statute for many year s. with hand rattles and wrist rattles sometimes supplementing. Songs are sung either in the African languages. Pansua. Tchorla. In Cuba members of the society are referred to by outsiders as Naiiigos. At a meeting I witnessed in Guanabacoa.<t. and performed by specialists. as part of its traditions. including the Palomonte. including many that are familiar names in Dahomey and Haiti. Biyumba. and of six new member s initiated that night. in Spanish. god of war.strongest in Eastern Cuba. The term Carabali may refer to the Calabar region of West Africa. a term that is not respectful and is much resented. The Kimbisa deities are Ansasi. bells. One of the main cults of Cuba is the Arara. The Arara cult is a survival of the Dahomean religious practices and traditions. god of the storm. chief of the cemetery. Like the Lucumi. Numerous Congo =trtbesv are spoken of by present-day Cubans. Mundell. Drums.

Among the Orisha. atchere (calabash rattle with external strikers).male chorus. with iya drum. 2: Djuka drums -. I. sung partly in Spanish. Old Arara drums. 1: Song to Legba and Yemaya -. I. Buena Noche. The singer also calls upon other Orisha. The three Lucumi drums (called bata collectively) are the Iya (largest). 2: Lucumi Song -. which is believed to tie the rites to those in Africa. 3: Lucumi drums -.female voice. 4: Abakwa Song -. They are double-headed drums. (See illustration. who both disapprove and fear cult activities. This piece is a kind of salute to all the Orisha of the Lucumi cult. a gourd scraper. such as Legba. ) Sometimes these sacred drums contain an African cocoa bean inside. Yemaya (or Yalode). or deities..drums and chorus.male chorus.three drums. . I. inherited from Africa. and the Ikonkolo or Amele (smallest). the crossroads. 4: Djuka song -. the sea deity. and Yemaya. A calabash rattle of ouoa. patron of agriculture. or spirit.two male voices. who play the instruments at both ends. Recorded at Guanabacoa. This drumming was said by the performers to be a Djuka war dance. with one large head and one small one. The choral part consists mainly of the words Buena Noche.played on th~ three Lucumi hour-glass shaped drums. the cults sometimes have been ridiculed by the "Castilian" whites. II. They are held in the laps of the drummers. II.male chorus. was recorded not far from Havana. 3: Song to Orisha Oko -. Chango. This song. which can be heard tinkling faintly in the background. drums. and of human fertility. invoked are Legba (or Etcho). and Oko. Itotele (middle size). Oko. drums. guardian of the gateway. some of these may have been carved by firstgeneration Africans in Cuba. and is the fir st piece in a cycle of invocations to the varieus individual Orisha. drums. used by the Lucumi cult. This song. 1: Abakwa song -. deity of lightning and thunder. 5: Song to Orisha Chango . II. which comes from the Lucumi repertoire. The singer s belonged both to the Lucumi cult and the Abakwa society. I. Guayo. This song is an invocation to the Ortsha.addition to sometimes suffering as scapegoats for social ills arising out of acute poverty. -3- Belt of bells. I. Recorded at Guanabacoa. II. deity of agriculture. The Iya is decorated with a girdle of harness-type bells called Tchaworo. with iya drum.two male voices. atchere (calabash rattle with external strikers). is to the Orisha Chango.

=La Musica Sagrada de Los Negros Yoruba en Cuba. Ibid. April. Pedro San Juan.. Fernando Ortiz. Ibid. 1940-1946. The double bell or organ. 1947. 1942. Fernando Ortiz. Salvador Garcia Aguero.. these are clearly African in origin. 1fTwoAspects of the Cuban Musical Landscape. " in ESTUDIOS AFROCUBANOS. " in ESTUDIOS AFROCUBANOS. Fernando Ortiz. Adolfo Salazar. 1937. vol. the Orisha of lightning and thunder. vols. July. " in THE JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY. Havana.a modern Cuban version of the African signal drum. and Feb. Harold Cour lander . 1938. HEI Systema Religioso de Los Lucumis y otras Influencies Africanas en Cuba. "Afro-Cuban Music.. with typical drums. N. " in ESTUDIOS AFROCUBANOS. 19391940. "La Musica Religiosa de Los Yorubas Entre Los Negros Cubanos.1. Vol." in ULTRA. I. "Abakwa Meeting in Guanabacoa. QUinto. No. "EI Aporte Africano a la Musica Popular Cubana. READING LIST Romulo Lachataner e. A Lueumi orchestra.Editor Moses Asch . 1916.chorus.. a musical _ instrument developed in Africa Basket-type rattles used by the Carabali in Cuba. "Musical Instruments of Cuba. deity of iron and war. a song to Obatala. " in REVISTA BIMESTRE CUBANA. and appears to be sung to Chango. Nicholas Slonimsky. 1945.1. July 1937. t! in the QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF INTERAMERICAN RELATIONS. 5: Song to Chango -. New York. LOS NEGROS ESCLA VOS. Gaspar Aguero y Barreras. another African contribution to Cuban music. vol. drums. '1 in ESTUDIOS AFROCUBANOS. Fernando Ortiz. 1946. " in ESTUDIOS AFROCUBANOS. LOS CABILDOS AFROCUBANOS. Harold Courlander. Havana. This is a Lucumi piece. New York.Production Director Write for of record Folkways 165 West information and complete listing albums and filmstrips to: Records and Service Corporation 46th street. " in THE MUSICAL QUARTERLY. 1939.II. Havana. Fernando Ortiz. 1944. Jan. III and IV." in THE ETUDE. "EI Movimento Africanista en La Musica De Arte Cubana. f1 in ESTUTIOS AFROCUBANOS. Oct.chorus. drums. II. Y. January-June. Harold Cour lander . -4- ~15' . =Pr eludtoe Etnicos de la Musica Afrocubana. Fernando Ortiz. 1923. "Presencia Africana en La Musica Nacional. V. the larger drum has a belt of bells. MUSIC OF LATIN AMERICA.S. The thumb piano. II No. 6: Song to Obatala -. LITHO IN U. This piece belongs to the cycle of invocations which constitute a service. Fernando Ortiz. "Estudiemos la Musica Afrocubana. Havana.