Updated: Nov 8, 2018

Written by Ernesto Jesús Green Rután on 20th July 2015.

LA BASE is a get-together where people share cultural ideas, play music and dance to different musical genres which have influenced—and still do—the timba sound in Cuba. 

Timba is the funky sound of Cuban Popular music. Iconic figures such as Benny More, Chano Pozo and Miguelito Cuni were influential in its inception period between the '40s and '60s paving the way for the future Cuban 'timberos'.

Later on, orchestras such as Irakere, NG La Banda and Los Van Van continue to develop la timba incorporating elements of jazz, funk and rock to their compositions. In Havana during the early '70s, the Cuban percussionist Jose Luis Quintana "Changuito" created and developed a set of complex polyrhythmic patterns called Songo which has become a very popular rhythmic style—within the timba subgenre—among Latin dancers across the globe. The songo rhythm blends the Cuban congas with the North American funk drum kit/ bass-line pattern.

During the '60s and '70s jazz/funk artists and bands such as Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Kool & The Gang, Earth Wind & Fire, Commodores, Brass Construction, Parliament (to mention a few) were a source of inspiration for Cuban musician. Rock bands like the Beatles, AC DC, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Gun n Roses were also very influential during that period.

Weather Report - "Birdland"

Los Van Van interpreting "Birdland" musical arrangements in their "Tim Pop" composition.

Changüi is another Cuban rhythm created by the great musician Elio Revé in Guantánamo and further developed by his son Elito Revé, combining the congas and the traditional son-changüi guantanamero with North American funk drum patterns.

 The Team Cuba project was formed in 1998 by seven of the most popular Cuban bands at the time. The purpose was to promote la timba and let the world know the depth and complexity of Cuban popular music. 

Many people—who are not familiar with the cultural, social, and musical diversity of Cuba— assume that Cuban music is basically rumba and son montuno (e.g. such as the music showcased in the Buena Vista Social Club project). The stereotyping approach symbolises the traditional aspect of our culture as rhum, cigars, bongo, congas and maracas. Those are cultural assets of our roots and musical tradition which we are proud of, however, Cuban music expands further than that stereotypical frame. We are located at the centre of the Caribbean sea, surrounded by the musical and cultural influences of our neighbour lands. Cuba is musical melting-pot; Cuban timba, contemporary music, and urban musical manifestations draw inspiration from Western art-forms and world music.

 Traditional rumba groups in Cuba are blending their complex polyrhythmic percussion patterns with hip hop, Latin dancehall, and west indies rhythms. The new wave of timberos are being creative; they may change the music tempo and style within the same piece, or combine elements of r&b and mainstream music with the essence of the rumba clave.

Back in the '80s, we used to have a program on Cuban national TV called "Para Bailar" (English translation "For You To Dance"), where the winner was the best couple dancing to different music genres and styles. The program theme was a piece by Los Van Van called "Aqui El Que Baila Gana". 

The Cuban new generation has created and developed an urban genre called timbaton which is the Cuban version of the Latin/ or Puertorican reggaeton. Timbaton features an effective combination of electronic music with popular Cuban timba rhythmic elements.

Timba is here today thanks to the hard work and experimental approach of Cuban musicians; thanks to the amazing talent and creative energy of Cuban new generation of artists and producers, and finally thanks to the support of the public worldwide who has embraced and 'jump in the timba train'.

The Cuban timba keeps embracing a wide range of cultural manifestations in order to develop further and attain longevity. My mission as a Cuban DJ/ producer is to keep supporting the evolution and development of the Cuban popular/ urban music. I express this feeling on my DJ-set, especially when I spin timba, funk, hip hop, and reggae (ton) which are part of my personality and background. 

If you come down to LA BASE you will hear a variety of music genres that complement each other making you feel good and inspiring you Timba is here to stay... La timba vino para quedarse!!

Spread the word and STAY TUNED for further updates! 

Post/ written by Ernesto Jesús Green Rután on Monday, 20th July 2015.