A highly syncretic genre of dance music created by musicians in Eastern Cuba towards the end of the 1800s. In terms of its form, lyrical content, and instrumentation, the son reflects the fusion of African and European elements. Since first achieving national recognition in the 1920s, the son has become a powerful symbol of Afro-Hispanic cultural fusion and of Cuban nationalism.
One important form the the merging of African and Spanish influences resulted in, it is the root of most familiar styles of Afro-Cuban dance music. A blend of the music of the spanish farmers (campesinos) and African slaves, it is believed to have originated in Oriente (the eastern province of Cuba) toward the end of the 19th century (slavery was abolish in 1878). It was played by small bands, using guitar or tres, maracas, guiro, claves, bongo, a marimbula and a botija. The more urban style played in Havana at the beginning of the century became a national style in 1920.