Son is a mainstream in Cuban music and has laid the fundament for many other styles coming after it. Its origins lay in the east of the island, where it was built under Spanish descent farmers. It is believed that it is derived from Changui, who also combines Spanish guitar and African rhythms.
The characteristics of son today vary strongly, while a basic element is the bass pulse that comes from the downbeat (anticipated bass). This gives the Son and the directions derived from it (even the salsa rhythm) their typical form.
Traditionally, subjects of Son are love and patriotism. Modern artists are socially and politically oriented. Typical is the use of Décima, with ten verses stanzas, eight-syllable verses and 2/4-beat. The Son (Clave) has a forward and a reverse shock (beat?). The forward shock Tresillo is followed by two strokes, while the reverse shock reverses the order.
Outside of Cuba, Rumba is commonly seen as ballroom dancing , but its roots lie in the spontaneous, improvised and lively dance of the dockworkers of Havana and Matanzas. Percussion instruments like the Quinto, the drums and the tumbadora Palitos (sticks) are combined with the cascara rhythm and singing (a singer and choir) to a danceable and popular form of music.
The word Rumba is derived from the verb rumbear (have a good time, partying). The rhythm is the key element of the rumba, which is primarily dance music.
There are three kinds of rumba rhythm with associated dances:
- Columbia in 6/8 time, danced by a man, is very fluent, aggressive and has acrobatic movements
- Guaguancó in 2/4-time is a partner dance with a erotic component;
- Yambú, also known as "the old people's Rumba" is a precursor of guaguancó and very slow. Yambú is barely danced and played today only at a few folk ensembles.