areito

A socioreligious music and dance ceremony of the Taino Arawak people. Because indigenous groups on Cuba became extinct shortly after the start of Spanish colonization, current scholarly knowledge about the formal and ritual aspects of areito is sketchy and often suppositional. According to early Spanish colonial writings, the music often involved hundreds, even thousands of participants, who would dance in concentric circles around a group of musicians who played güiros, maracas and slit-drums.

One areito specimen survives in musical notation, "Areito de Anacaonda." However, because its musical and textual properties so closely resemble 18th- and 19th-century Spanish song genres, and because it is so completely dissimilar to any other known indigenous music of the Americas, it seems likely that the actual musical and textual elements of "Areito de Anacaonda" were altered during transcription for an unknown purpose. Accordingly, its example provides a historiological prism through which to study areito music rather than an authentic record of it.