Estimated read time: 10 minutes
This article is part of a four-part saga about timba history and development.
In previous articles we explored timba as the sound of the Cuban economic crisis. We described its origins, the rise and fall of its popularity. Nowadays, the genre is regaining its former glory. In 2008, Alexander Abreu formed Havana D’Primera in order to restore the image to the genre.
The sound of timba recordings are much clearer today then they were in the 1990s. Cuba has invested a lot into state-of-the-art studios. As technology advances, prices of professional recording equipment became much more reasonable, and many musicians such as Manolito Simonet have started building their studios in the basements of their homes.
Timba scene is still not a high-growth phenomenon, but does deliver a great new orchestra every once in a while. Besides Havana D’Primera, the new stars of timba are artists such as El Niño y la Verdad, El Noro y 1era Clase, and Maykel Blanco y Su Salsa Mayor.
Furthermore, timba is slowly paving its way for an international breakthrough. The largest timba scene outside of Cuba is in Peru with its most popular band Barbaro Fines y Su Mayimbe. A few bands are active in the United States, the most popular among dancers being Timbalive. Europe does not fall short on timba bands with the undisputed kings of the scene being the Swedish band Calle Real.
A renewed interest in timba would have probably never occurred without the rising popularity of Cuban dances. The international music media is still ignorant about timba and rather seems to be caught in the loop of revivalist projects that have been playing the same old broken record from before the revolution. Perhaps this ignorance might serve as an indication of the US influence over the music industry.
Internationally, an underground rock concert will still catch much more media attention than a timba concert, even though the latter will bring in a much larger audience. The other reason preventing a big breakthrough as a genre might be the level of skills and devotion needed to perform such music.
Timba songs might as well be less fit for the average western audience whose attention span for a song is 4 minutes at a maximum, while good timba songs narrate a story much longer.