Band Traditional Son To Timba (André Groen)

Module code
Curricular domain
Practical Classes
Group size
Depends on band size
Number of course weeks
Class duration
One 65-minute lesson per week
Total contact hours
32 hours
Study load
79 hours

Form / content / level

Completion of the propaedeutic phase.

NOTE that selecting one elective band is compulsory in the second year. In years 2, 3 and 4 you can select up to two elective bands per year in total.
See Competencies Matrix.
Acquiring and developing ensemble playing skills in repertoire of the relevant style.
Improving stage performance.
Relation to other modules
This module is related to the main subject module.
Cuban son music has made a remarkable development through the years.
The traditional son played by trios and cuartetos in the 1920’s was strongly influenced by
trova, bolero and guajira, romantic music of the peasants. In the sexteto format they used guitar, tres, bongó, claves, maracas and a bass instrument, called marimbula, to accompany the voices. In the septeto format the trumpet made its entrance.

In the 1930’s and 40’s Arsenio Rodríguez added more trumpets, saxophones, piano, double bass, congas and timbales to his conjunto, to create a higher density in its sound. This new style, the son montuno, and its polyrhythmic concepts were injected in the mambo of the 40’s.

In the 50’s Benny Moré, ‘El Sonero Mayor’, the greatest singer of the son, created an explosive sound and a versatile style with his big band. Meanwhile in New York, Cuban rhythms like rumba and son, were connected to jazz. This led to the so-called ‘Cubop’ and Latin-Jazz.

Latinos from countries like Puerto Rico, Colombia and Venezuela blended their various folkloric musical traditions with Cuban rhythms and elements of jazz, rock and soul music and called it ‘Salsa’. In the 70’s and 80’s salsa became very popular around the world, for music lovers as well as for dancers.

Pop, rock and funk elements turned Cuban son into ‘Songo’. Los Van Van had lots of success with it. Supergroup Irakere developed a more Afro-Cuban complexity in their arrangements. Batá drums and chekéres were introduced into popular music. NG La Banda created Timba : dance music with exciting grooves and breaks, based on son, guaracha and ‘Salsa Cubana’.

There was a strong revival of traditional son with bands such as Grupo Sierra Maestra and the immensely popular Buena Vista Social Club in the second part of the 90’s. Cuban bass player Israel ‘Cachao’ López was right when he sang ‘El Son No Ha Muerto’, the son has never died.

This Elective Band will revisit the traditional son and take it into the ‘new generation’ version of songo, timba and latin jazz.
Mode(s) of instruction
Band rehearsals and performances.
Material & Tools
Handed out by the instructor (where applicable).
Student activity
Generating internal publicity for the band's concerts, and selecting repertoire.

Examination and assessment

Mode(s) of assessment
Assessment by the band instructor at the end of each semester.
General criteria: creativity, improvisation, sheet music, sense of harmony, rhythmic idioms, timing and tempo control, musical interaction, intonation, reading skills, sound, interpretation, style awareness, form principles, tonal balance, preparation, accompaniment and attitude.
Performing a repertoire of 8-16 pieces studied and rehearsed in a band setting.
Recognizing the most important Latin styles by ear and playing both the basic and more complex patterns and style elements.
Pass requirements
The student has completed this module if he is awarded a minimum grade of 5.5 at the end of the second semester, with a minimum class attendance of 80%.
Examination procedure
Written assessment by the instructor at the end of both semesters. Assessment at the end of the autumn semester is formative and expressed in terms of satisfactory/unsatisfactory. It indicates a student's progress in this module. No ECs are awarded and there is no resit. Modules can only be absolved, and ECs awarded, after the end of the spring semester. The end-of-semester assessments comprise evaluations of students' performance during the rehearsals and public performances.
Resit options
See the Education and Assessment Plan.

Module summary

This module allows students to extensively study latin music. All relevant elements of this style are discussed, in addition to more general aspects of ensemble playing and performance.