When people, in general, think or speak about Cuban music, they mostly refer to the music generally known as Afro Cuban music. While it is true that Cuban music has a strong African element, there is a fundamental difference between the two: the Cuban sound has a strong melodic element that comes from Spanish roots. A marriage of traditional European music, Flamenco and Yoruba drums have given Cuban music the power to sweep the world.
When the Spanish arrived in Cubanacan, as the aboriginal inhabitants called the Island, they found it populated by Tainos, Guanatabeyes and Siboneyes, people of Arawak origin who had emigrated from the Orinoco region of present day Colombia and Venezuela. These people arrived on the Island about 900 A.D. and were established throughout the Island. The Taino lived an agricultural lifestyle and spent there days hunting and gathering .
In the central portion of the island constantly being pushed westward by the Tainos were another Arawak people the Siboney a hunting and gathering tribe.
Totally marginated to the Pinar del Rio area on the westernmost tip of Cuba, lived the earliest arrivals in Cubanacan; the Guanatabeyes.
The Spanish with their firearms and superior technology easily conquered these tribes and tried to organize them in "Encomiendas," large plantations dedicated to the cultivation of tobacco, coffee and sugar cane. The Amerindians were not used to such hard labour and did not adapt well to the conditions of virtual slavery.
The same scourges that plagued most of the Americas, European diseases, greatly decimated their numbers. The Taino rose in revolt against their new masters and were brutally put down. The harsh conditions of slavery, plus disease and repression, took their toll on the natives and in less than one hundred years, these people were virtually extinct.