Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen Blum

Subject Categories



Charanga; Cuba; Flute; Latin dance music; New York City; Performance Practice


Siento una Flauta: Improvisational Idiom, Style, and Performance Practice of Charanga Flutists in New York from 1960-2000.

The charanga, the Cuban dance music ensemble consisting of flute, strings, piano, bass, timbales, congas, and güiro, and vocals, underwent five decades of evolution in Cuba, beginning in the early 20th century. It was the breeding ground for two significant popular dance music genres, the mambo and the cha-cha-chá, before being transplanted to New York City in the mid-1950's. Charangas came to New York when the popularity of the mambo and the cha-cha-chá was well-established there. Once in New York, the charanga gave birth to another dance craze, the pachanga, securing its position in the Latin dance music scene, New York City's popular culture, and social life.

This dissertation traces the musical evolution of the charanga in New York City from 1960 to 2000, through all of the developments in Latin popular dance music in which it participated, with definitions and examples of those music genres. Discussions of the growth and development of the Latino community in New York during that time period, the charanga's commercial and social significance, and the entrance of professional women instrumentalists into the field of charanga and Latin dance music are included. Special attention is given to the role of the flute as the lead instrument, the flute's improvisational idiom, and to organological questions of the traditional French five-key simple system flute vs. the modern Boehm-system flute used today. Performance practice analysis describes the contributions of seven major artists: Belisario López, José Fajardo, Johnny Pacheco, Eddy Zervigón, Andrea Brachfeld, Karen Joseph, and Connie Grossman. 19 full-length transcription of recorded improvised solos by these artists are included with commentary for practice and study. An appendix includes a summary of the work of two additional artists, Alberto Socarrás and Rolando Lozano, with ten additional solo transcriptions.

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