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Charanga Music Concert

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Charanga Review

The sweetest and most elegant of all Cuban dances is made up of charanga. These are groups that play traditional music which is mainly Cuban. The charanga music dates back to the turn of the twentieth century probably in the 1880’s. Charanga in itself is indigenous to Cuba. Cuba had the first charanga Francesca which by 1896 was well established. The charanga was headed by Antonio (Papaíto) Torroella (1856–1934) (Morales 2003). It was composed mainly of flutes, violins and piano which, as a fact, are the backbones of the music. I this group the percussion was provided by Pailes criollos. Some of the other instruments used in the general concert include the double bass, timbales and guiro. Charanga also includes singers and congas.

Charanga style

Danzón, chachachá and mambo are the common styles played by the charanga. The driving nature of the music is provided by the riffs caused by the violin. The violin is expertly played providing the said riffs which introduces electrifying feeling through the music. It is not only the violin that provides this sensation but all the other instruments have their own typical patterns around the two bar clave pattern which all lock in to form one big melodic rhythm section and above which the flute improvises. The flute plays a very key role in that most of the improvised solos are take by it. It is normally played in the upper register(Aviva, 2004). Though it has breaks where it is supposed to come in, the flutes main purpose is to improvise.

Charanga music is spontaneous music that is arranged in sophistication bringing out the African and Spanish aspect in it. The rhythmic emphasis that is employed is highly spontaneous. The danzon for example has operatic music elements in it as well as the Cuban son. The African style of calling and responding in music has been incorporated in the danzon. In 1950s’ new styles called Mambo and Chachacha arose due to addition of various sections and styles in to the original Danzon.

Charanga musicians

Charanga still flourishes today in many forms in Cuba. Several musicians have ventured into charanga music. In the early 20th century a musical group that was called Antonio Maria Romeu which was founded in 1911 did a great deal of music in Cuba.(Aviva, 2004) Other groups during that time were the Ia Orquesta Ideal and La Orquesta Torroella. Later in the mid 20th century, Arcano and Aragon played the Danzones del Nuevo ritmo among other afore mentioned styles. It can therefore be said that those were two phases of charanga music. The first phase mostly played the danzas and danzones while the second phase saw the introduction of the Mambo and the like.

Orquesta Aragón is seen as the main innovator of the chachacha style (Morales, 2003). It was because of this group that a lot of popularity of the style was achieved. Though this group founded in 1939 was not the first to play the chachacha it can be said that the history of charanga lies with the group due to the longer duration it has stayed in the industry and the amount of effort it has put in to the popularization of charanga. Presently several artists like Rubalcaba have come into lame light through charanga music. Not to be forgotten are some musicians with whom great composition of danzon music has been realized. These musicians include Romeu, Urfé, Felix Reina, Coralia and Orestes Lopez, Electo Rosell and Abelardo Valdes.


The charanga music is with no doubt one of the best all round music. Though Cuban it incorporates African, Spanish as well as other European elements in music.

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