Article 10402 | Cuba Watch
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Cuban Music Is Caribbean Music, Not Latin Music.

When you go to shops or go online and then you go to the ‘World Music’ section, you will find that Cuban music is constantly being labelled and categorised under the heading ‘Latin’ music or ‘Latin American’ music. So many shops, online outlets and websites have this categorisation absolutely wrong and it is blatantly incorrect, because Cuba is an island in the Caribbean and not in Latin America.


Cuba created the original music forms that are generally referred to worldwide as ‘Salsa Music’.


It was the Caribbean island of Cuba that created the music forms of ‘Rumba’, ‘Mambo’ and ‘Son’ (the basis of worldwide salsa music) these are all original types of music created in the Caribbean, also the ‘Cha Cha Cha’ original music form was created by Cuban musicians.

The term ‘Salsa Music’ is merely a general ‘label’, to describe the ‘Worldwide Use’ by other musicians, music outlets and music lables in other countries, that have taken and used the principles of Cuba’s original created musical forms of ‘Rumba’, ‘Mambo’, ‘Son’ and ‘Cha Cha Cha’.



How the USA embargo on Cuba enabled the spread of the general term ‘Salsa Music’ to become a worldwide reference.

The general labelling and referring to Cuban music as ‘Salsa Music’ was for many a way of getting around the copyrights of Cuba’s music during the time of the USA embargo on Cuba, because during that time Cuba was not able to legally challenge anything in USA courts or in other countries courts, regarding the use by others of Cuba’s original copyrighted music under the general heading ‘Salsa Music’.



Also because the general term ‘Salsa Music’ did not belong to anyone, there was no particular body or main party that could be sued. The prospect of taking every individual, outlet or producer to court would not have been feasible or possible during the time of the USA embargo of Cuba.


How music labels and music outlets enabled the spread of the general term ‘Salsa Music’ to become a worldwide reference.

It was during the period of the USA embargo of Cuba, that certain ‘music labels’ such as the New York based ‘Tico’, ‘Alegre’ and ‘Fania’ music labels were made popular.


‘Fania’ became one of the most recognised ‘World Music’ latin music labels, however because Cuban bands and musicians were no longer as employable, due to being ‘out of favour’ with the USA, it became necessary to use Puerto Rican and Dominican Republican bands and musicians instead, because Puerto Rican and Dominican Republican were other Caribbean island that understood how to play Cuba’s music, this than widened to other Carribean islands etc.


Then the USA began to economically encourage Latin American workers into the USA. The USA repeated this pattern of ‘economic encouragement strategy’ with Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and other ‘Latin American’ countries. The New York based ‘Tico’, ‘Alegre’ and ‘Fania’ labels followed the pattern of the USA out of necessity, which ranged from lessening getting musicians from Cuba, to getting musicians from the Carribean islands of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republican etc., the ‘Fania’ music label (which started out with mainly using Puerto Rico musicians) began getting some musicians from Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and so on.


However the music produced and recorded by the New York based ‘Fania’ world music label and the other ‘World Music’ labels, was predominantly influenced by Cuba’s created musical forms of ‘Rumba’, ‘Mambo’, ‘Son’ and ‘Cha Cha Cha’. The world music labels also used and marketed the Carribean island of Dominican Republican’s created music form called ‘Merengue’, which is based on the various islands of the Caribbean ‘Calypso’ and ‘Soca’ music forms.


The term ‘Salsa Music’ was used as a general reference for all the counties involved with playing the music based on Cuba’s copyrighted music forms. The Fania world music label and all the other music labels at the time of the USA embargo on Cuba, exported this music by referring to it generally as ‘Salsa Music’. Exporting the style of Cuba’s created music forms under the general heading of ‘Salsa Music’, was done during the period when the style of Cuba’s created music forms was becoming more main stream and Cuba’s style of music forms became a worldwide success under the general heading of ‘Salsa Music’.


However this worldwide success came without any formal reference, or recognition, or royalties, or adherence to Cuba’s music copyrights, due to the USA embargo of Cuba, because Cuba was not able to legally challenge anything in USA courts or in other countries courts, regarding the use of Cuba’s original music under the general heading ‘Salsa Music’.


Other Countries tried to claim that they originally created these music forms not Cuba.


Many countries have suggested and even tried to claim that because they had Africans living in their country, the African element of Cuba’s music forms was not Cuba’s.

What these countries have failed to explain is that in their countries, African music was sometimes mixed with their traditional folk music, but the music still remained predominantly their folk music. These other countries folk music, had no such major musical transformations like Cuba’s created music forms.


Cuba created music forms that had never existed before.

Cuba was able to create original music forms, that are mergers of african music, folk music and other musical forms, that metamorphosed into completely different music forms, sounds and structures, with formal rules that were given to these new music forms.


Gospel, Blues, Jazz, Bebop and rock ‘n’ role are all examples of created music forms that did not exist before and everyone recognises these as being of African American origin and creation, therefore Cuba’s music in the Caribbean is no different in its creation of music forms that did not exist before.


How to change Cuba’s Caribbean music being labelled as ‘Latin’ or Latin American.

When you see Cuban music being labelled or categorised as ‘Latin’ or ‘Latin American’ music, please contact the shop, or outlet, or online site and request them to correct the categorisation to Caribbean.


Cuba has also created original and wonderful forms of solo, couple and group dances to accompany the music.

We are privileged to be able to enjoy these wonderful Cuban gifts to the world and we should cherish these and celebrate these.

We all need to do our part to uphold, preserve and give recognition to Cuba’s original creation of the music forms, that did not exist before Cuban musicians created them.


Cuba has left its fantastic mark in this world with its music, spanning the past, present and long into the future.


Click the link below to see this article’s guide reference table, with some useful and insightful reference information:

MIC Buzz Magazine_Article_10402_Reference Table1_Cuba Watch_040517_Cuban Music Is Caribbean Music Not Latin Music_15


See other articles in this series:

*    Cuban Music Is The ‘Daddy And Mummy’ Of Salsa Music



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