Although the birth of Son can not be accurately placed historically, according to some informants it seem to be the nineteenth century. From the geographical point of view Son was born in rural areas of eastern provinces near Guantánamo, Baracoa, Manzanillo and Santiago de Cuba.
Poor former slaves, who cultivated a plot of land in mountainous areas, were called montunos. They lived in palm-built houses called Bohios. Montunos played three stringed instrument called tres. With tres they played rustic instruments called maracas and taborets. Little by little were introduced instruments like bongo, marímbula or botija, güíro or guayo and guitar.
Deceased singer of Changüí de Guantánamo, Cambrón, told me, that in first Changüí groups they had botija as bass instrument and later marímbula took its place. video
At first glance Cuban tres seems to associate with the tradition of Hispanic background, because it looks like a little guitar with three double strings. But if you analyze its rhythmic and melody-harmonic function, you will find African, especially Bantu background. Tres is a fundamental instrument in Son. When the Son groups were modernized piano took the place of tres in the Son conjuntos.
Nengón is one of the oldest primary forms of Son. Nengón was born in mountain areas of Baracoa, Cuba’s first city, in extreme eastern Cuba. video
Kiribá is an other example of oldest forms of Son. As the Nengón it is a music style and also a party with the same name.
Changüí was born in the mountainous territory of Yateras in the province of Guantanamo. As Nengón and Kiribá it’s a music style and a party with the same name. video
Son-montuno developed in different parts of Oriente in mountainous regions. video
In early 1900s Son came from eastern parts of Cuba to Havana. In 1920 was founded first sexteto configuration called Sexteto Habanero. The band became popular and many bands imitated their style to play Son. Sexteto format utilized tres, guitar, botija or marímbula or string bass, bongos, claves and maracas. In 1927 Sexteto Nacional augmented the format with trumpet. The new format was called Septeto. video
In 1940 blind tres-player Arsenio Rodríquez augmented the format with piano, two trumpets and tumbadora. New format was called Conjunto. video