Cuban Music, Culture, and Society

Electable by: 
Required of: 
Semesters Offered: 
Spring Only
Boston Campus
Courses may not be offered at the listed location(s) each semester. Consult for specific term availability.

This course focuses on musical analysis, contextual cultural explorations, and study of the sociohistorical circumstances fundamental to the emergence of Cuban music and its subsequent evolution as part of the larger cultural and social history of the Americas and the Caribbean, from about the 18th to the 21st century. In addition to an introduction to key figures in the development of Cuban music, we will analyze African-derived musical traditions rooted in ritual and religious practices (e.g. bembé, abakuá, palo) and their affects on the birth of characteristic secular urban and rural genres like contradanza, son, son montuno, comparsa, and rumba. The continuing influence of these major genres on contemporary Cuban music styles such as timba, as well as their longstanding international reach, will be investigated from the perspectives of artistic innovation and aesthetic synthesis, ongoing processes of musical hybridization, and the implicit social struggles of both musicians and cultural carriers at the core of many of these musical expressions.

Course chair: 
Mike Mason