The natives of Cuba were the Taino, Arawak and Ciboney[?] people, known for a style of music called areito[?]. Large numbers of African slaves and European immigrants brought their own forms of music to the island. European dances and folk musics included zapateo[?], zarzuela, fandango[?], zampado[?], retambico[?] and canción[?]. Later, northern European forms like waltz, minuet, gavotte[?] and mazurka appear among urban whites.
The earliest known form of modern Cuban music is the son[?], known to date from the late 1500s. Son's characteristics vary widely today, with the defining characteristic a bass pulse that comes before the downbeat, giving son and its derivatives (including salsa) its distinctive rhythm; this is known as the anticipated bass[?]. Contradanza[?] and habanera[?] were also early forms of Cuban music and dance, and the habanera especially has proven extremely influential on virtually all forms of Latin American music, especially in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
One of the most vibrant cabildos was the Lucumí[?], which became known for batá drums[?], played traditionally at initiation ceremonies, and gourd ensembles called abwe[?]. In the 1950s, a collection of Havana-area batá drummers called Santero[?] helped bring Lucumí styles into mainstream Cuban music, while artists like Mezcla[?] and Lázaro Ros[?] melded the style with other forms, including zouk[?].
The Kongo cabildo is known for its use of yuka drums[?], as well as gallos[?] (a form of song contest), makuta[?] and mani dances, the latter being closely related to the Brazilian martial dance capoeira. Yuka drum music eventually evolved into what is known as rumba, which has become internationally popular. Rumba bands traditionally use several drums, palitos[?], a clave[?] and call-and-response[?] vocals.
Other forms of Cuban folk music include the bolero[?] ballads from Santiago, and small French creole[?] bands called charangas[?]. Charangas come from Haitian refugees during the Haitian Revolution[?] (1791), and then settled in the Oriente[?], forming a form of cabildo called the tumba francesa[?] and is known for comparsa[?], chachachá and other kinds of folk music.
20th century Son music came to Havana in 1920 (see 1920 in music) due to the efforts of legendary groups like Trío Matamoros[?]. Son was urbanized, which trumpets and other new instruments, leading to its tremendous influence on most later forms of Cuban music.
In the 1930s, Desi Arnaz popularized the conga[?] in the US, while Arsenio Rodriguez[?] developed the conjunto band and rumba's popularity grew. Conjunto son, rumba and conga became three of the most important influences on the invention of salsa.
In the 1950s, groups like Orquesta Aragón[?] helped invent a highly rhythmic form of music called chachachá while Pérez Prado[?] and Cachao López[?] started a craze for mambo. Later, artists like Tito Puente and Fania Records[?] helped update mambo for modern audiences. The influence of Puertorican musicians in New York resulted in salsa music. Others used traditional forms, especially the conga[?], to make Latin jazz[?], which has remained more closely linked with Cuba than other Latin countries; it begin in the 1940s in New York City's Cuban community.
The arrival to power of Fidel Castro in 1959 signified on one side mass exile to Puerto Rico, Florida[?] and New York, and the protection of artist by the Communist state. In Cuba, the Nueva Trova[?] movement (including Pablo Milanés[?]) reflected the new leftist ideals. Young musicians learnt in conservatories. The state-run cabaret Tropicana[?] was a must visit.
Modern Cuban music is known for its relentless mixing of genres. For example, the 1970s saw Los Irakere[?] use batá in a big band setting; this became known as son-batá[?] or batá-rock. Later artists created the mozambique[?], which mixed conga[?] and mambo, and batá-rumba[?], which mixed rumba and batá drum music. Mixtures including elements of hip hop, jazz and rock and roll are also common.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the periodo especial[?] economy opened Cuba to tourism. The Cuban artists saw that the public of the Americas and Europe raved about retired artists from the 1940s like Ibrahim Ferrer[?], Joseíto Fernández[?] and Compay Segundo[?], while ignoring 40 years of evolution. Salsa music and dancing became in vogue worldwide. Films like Buena Vista Social Club[?] became wildly popular in indie rock circles. At the same time, Cuban artists were subject to economic restrictions.
The biggest award in modern Cuban music is the Beny Moré Award[?]. The antagonism between Cuban politicians of Florida and the island forced the celebration of the Grammy Latinos[?] awards in Los Angeles instead Miami.