Familia Valera Miranda - Se quema la chumbamba


Background information and Performance Circumstances

  • The Familia Velara Miranda is a Cuban family of musicians and singers
  • Se quema la chumbamba is Cuban son - a type of traditional song that is generally recognised to be the forerunner of the salsa
  • it is a son montuno - a sub-style that originated in the work songs of agricultural wokers, hence the lyrics, with their references to burning land
  • the son was originally a purely vocal call and response form, but when it began to be used at dances, and instrumental chordal accompaniment was added
  • Cuban music is a fusion of musical elements from the Spanish, who colonised Cuba, and African slaces that were imported
  • African elements: syncopated rhythms, call and response and the use of percussion instruments developed from African models
  • Spanish (European) elements: functional (limited) chords, minor scale patterns in melody, presence of cuatro and double bass

Performing forces and their handling

  • all-male vocal group - has leader (pregon) and a chorus (coro), with the pregon improvising the verses, while the coro refrains, in two-part homophony
  • vocal setting is syllabic, quite a limited range in all of the vocal parts (minor 6th in pregon and dim 7th in coro)
  • the cuatro (form of guitar) plays a mixture of solo melodic lines and strummed chords: the 8ve tunings of the 4 pairs of strings produce a thicker sound, w/ the brightness of the upper 8ves ringing through the texture
  • cuatro has a short, repeated melodic pattern which acts as an introduction, and also as accompaniment to the singing
  • cuatro solo is more adventurous, covering a much wider range and including slides and chords as well as single-line melodies
  • the plucked double bass line consists of only a small number of notes, all from dominant or tonic chords
  • the percussion section, in typical Latin-American style, uses continous maracas quavers and improvised bongo patterns, all held together by the characteristic 3/2 son claves rhythm on the claves


  • texture is homophonic, with all of the instruments supporting the melody at…


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