The most popular Cuban music and dance genre of the 20th century, and the oldest national form, the earliest known example being Son de la Má Teodora. The origins and definitions of the formal musical elements of son are elusive to denote insofar as there is no single meter, rhythmic pattern or instrumental setup that characterizes the genre. However, the performance style and its origins in Santiago de Cuba seem to be what most experts agree upon as acceptably classifying criteria. Likewise, the heart of the performance style is the "anticipated bass," the bass rhythm pulse that precedes the expected downbeat and lends the distincitve "push" that characterizes all Cuban music derived from the son, namely salsa.

Many consider Trío Matamoros -- founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1912 -- to have defined the sound of the modern son and to be responsible for bringing it to Havana in 1920. Other groups eventually settled in Havana where more instruments were added until a standard sextet ensemble came to represent urban son in the 1920s, the instrumental lineup of which consisted of guitar, tres, marímbula, double bass and two vocalists (who played maracas and claves). In the 1930s, the sextet became a septet with the addition of a trumpet.

Trio Matamoros