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A vocal and instrumental dance genre which is one of Cuban music basic forms. According to researcher Odilio Urfé, the son is the most syncretic exponent of national cultural identity.

For many it appeared in the 1920s, although according to Urfé, it has been established that it concretely emerged in the late 19th century in many outlying suburbs of some cities such as Guantánamo and Baracoa (the cradle of the Cuban tres, according to Sindo Garay), Manzanillo and Santiago de Cuba, with its folkloric suburban neighbourhoods. Many dilettante and curious people are still debating its origin, and they can only find a consensual reply in a chorus line from one of the most popular sons by Miguel Matamoros: "They’re from the hills", although they sing it in the plains.

However, there is no doubt about its roots, which are a mixture of African and Spanish rhythms. Its origin, development, sonority, choreography and social use led the son to become the most ideal and representative means of expression for the humble sectors of society.

It is said that the son travelled from Oriente to Havana around 1909, played and sung by soldiers. This transcultural process led to the rumba entrance in the eastern region of the country. The son boom is due, nevertheless, to its incorporation into the danzón bands` pentagram and above all after the emergence in 1920 of the Sextet Habanero (later called the Sextet Nacional).

At that time the island’s bourgeoisie detested the new genre which on the other hand did win over followers in the slums and tenement houses where the popular sectors resided. There was a time when the government even banned it, saying it was immoral, but it quickly won a space even in the most refined dance halls, while the record publishing houses gave it unlimited publicity.

Groups using the guitar, tres, bongo drums, botija or marimba (afterwards the double bass), claves and maracas were the first to play the son. In their search for a greater sonority, they later incorporated at least one trumpet.

Diverse modalities or variants have expanded the genre history. The son montuno, changüí guantanamero, the sucu-sucu from the Isle of Pines, ñongo, regina, the son of the permanent, bachata oriental, son habanero, guajira son, guaracha son, bolero son, pregón son, afro son, son guaguancó, the mambo and the cha-cha-cháare diverse variants of the genre. A song variant influenced by other rhythms, above all the son, was developed in the early 1920s under the name of tango congo, thus typifying black people in the Cuban zarzuela.

In any case, all Cubans believe that "the son is the most sublime way of entertaining the soul," according to Ignacio Piñeiro`s "Suavecito". Other authors also left their imprint, the most important being Miguel Matamoros, Sindo Garay, Arsenio Rodríguez and Rosendo Ruiz, while among the best all-time interpreters are Benny Moré, the Matamoros trio, Celia Cruz and the Sonora Matancera, the Septeto Habanero, Antonio Machín and Abelardo Barroso.
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