Musicas de los Géneros: Octova Nota

Musicas de los Géneros: Octova Nota
By Eva Miller

Director’s Statement:
Music is a big part of my life and it always has been. I remember when I would stay home with my mom. We would have a blast Billy Joel, Billy Holiday, or The Bee Gees while cleaning the house. My parents bought me a violin so I could play in elementary school, then I went onto the viola in middle and high school. I now play the bass guitar.

When I first learned that I would be going to Cuba, I wanted to focus on its music but more importantly its rich jazz history. Jazz started in the 1910s in New Orleans. Jelly Roll Morton, pianist and composer, claimed that Latin influence on jazz left what he called “Spanish tinge.” From there many Americans adapted their compositions to the Cuban rhythm.

As an American, I first started this project thinking that I would be looking for an undiscovered jazz band in Cuba while exploring their influences from previous Cuban artist. However, I found a percussion professor, Ruy López-Nussa, whose first love is jazz and an eight piece, all woman band headed by Yoana Nuñez Gallardo who studied music in Russia (Russia is the only place Cubans can go without a visa). Thus, I wanted to look into equality of the sexes.

I soon learned that Cuba’s feminist movement hasn’t made much ground since its inception and everyone believes the Cuba has equality because the government says it does. When interviewing Gallardo and another band mate, they agree it is not equal especially in male dominated industries such as music. This film looks into male and female perspectives of the Cuban economy.

Cuba is known for its stylized music: Timba, Charanga and Batá-rumba. Among the different genres, Afro-Cuban Jazz (also called Latin Jazz) stands out. Patterns of tempo and brass transform any listener into a marionette guided by the rhythm.

Lucky musicians such as Chucho Valdés and Daymé Arocena have successfully been famed in and out of Cuba. Cuba is filled with unknown artists and they are unable to get recognition. Octova Nota is an all female band waiting for their big break. This video looks into their lives as female musicians in Cuba.