Traditions: Trinitarian tunes in squares and streets

Traditions: Trinitarian tunes in squares and streets

Heritage & Traditions

By Alina Veranes

They still survive today. The so-called trinitarian tunes are a very particular musical manifestation within an artistic genre profusely cultivated in regions of the countryside of central Cuba, it is believed since mid-nineteenth century.

In the current city of Trinidad  -founded as the town of the Holy Trinity at the beginning of 1514-  they still sing with true love and attachment,  because their followers know that this choral and musical  art  is an expression of their nationality forged from spiritual ingredients of Spanish and African ancestors, cornerstones of the island culture.

So in Trinidad de Cuba, as it is also called, the tunes are a highly valued asset in an enclave that has the honor of being on the World Heritage List created by UNESCO since 1988, along with its famous Valley of the mills.

Today a musical group survives whose name is Tonadas trinitarias, whose roots are considered very old and with contribution in the first wars of independence, of  the 19th century. There is documentary evidence that describes the Cabildos of the town of Trinidad as carriers of choral groups that interpreted the so-called Tonadas trinitarias since the middle of that century.

Some texts refer that around 1860 during local festivals such songs were heard in the voices of choirs from different neighborhoods that even competed with each other while parading. They say that the songs sung by those popular artists began to become famous, each time reaching a larger group of people and families.

It became customary and highly anticipated that such choirs toured the city on holidays and religious dates. They were organized in a guide, a choir of mixed voices, three wedge drums, a fifth, a bass drum, an iron key (guataca) and  a guiro.

They had from one to three main voices. Trinidad, which became one of the most prosperous and beautiful towns in colonial Cuba after the sugar boom of the 19th century, preserves and revives every day the music of the tunes, first called tango or fandango, like a precious treasure.