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About the project
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Module 1: Yoruba and Bantu Traditions Glossary

In this module you will learn about:

  1. The African nations from which slaves were captured and taken to the Spanish Caribbean.
  2. The major rites (Yoruba, Bantu, Abakuá and Arará) that slaves brought with them to the Spanish Caribbean.
  3. The most important musical instruments that the slaves continued to use in their new lands, and the importance of music and dance in their cultures.

The first African slaves were brought to the Americas in the 1500’s; African music survived in a subliminal stage for almost two centuries, transmitted in a semi-clandestine way among slaves crowded in barracks and dying of exhaustion. African music in Cuba emerged from this larval stage during the nineteenth century, with the massive importation of slaves—especially from Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin and the Congo-- that marked the sugar boom in the island as Cuba took over the sugar market that had been vacated by the Haitian revolution and the newly independent former British colonies. In this module it is essential to stress the difference between the way African culture fared in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies as opposed to the British colonies, where African instruments, dances and rituals all but disappeared. <more>

Assignment 1: The Slave Trade
Explore the regions from which slaves were brought to the Americas and the beginning of the process through which their music became adapted to their new lives.

Assignment 2: Rhythm and Religion
Discover the religion and rhythm of Africa and find out about the musical instruments and dances that influenced Latin American music.

Assignment 3: Santería
Explore the origins and development of santeria and listen to some of the Lukumí, Abakuá and Congo religious chants that have survived until today.

Audio Clips
Chant to Eleggua Chant to Chango Congolese Yuka Congolese Makuta Abakuá Efor & Efik
Eleggua was one of the main orishas in the lukumí tradition. Listen to the call and response structure of the chant. Chango was the orisha of war, power, and eroticism. His chant is followed by a drumming that is meant to bring participants to a trance state.

The Yuka is the direct ancestor of the Yambú, the slowest type of Rumba. It is a dance of pursuit and seduction, climaxing with the vacunao or suggestive hip movement.

The Makuta, a fast Congolese rhythm, was the ancestor of the Guaguancó and the Columbia. It has a fast tempo that becomes increasingly frenzied.

Abakuá rituals from the Calabar region enacted a mythological episode in which forces of order (Efor) battled forces of chaos (Efik).
All audio clips above were extracted from a recording by Grupo Folklórico Nacional de Cuba.


Next >> Module 2: Musical Syncretism
This site was developed by Ana María Hernández, 718.482.5697,
Humanities Department, LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)
31-10 Thomson Avenue, L.I.C., New York, NY 11101
This site was created with support from the LaGuardia Center for Teaching and Learning and is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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