Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ney Rosauro - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Gary Green - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Ferdinando DeSena - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Nancy Zavac - Committee Member


The objective of this doctoral essay is to help shed some light on the Afro-Cuban musical style called the Abakuá. This essay traces the development of the Abakuá secret society and its music from its ancestral beginnings in Africa (with the Èfik and Efut Leopard Societies), through its movement into Cuba and the development of the first lodge (in the eighteen hundreds), to its eventual influence in America. This essay also describes the impact the Abakuá has had on music in general, but especially the music of the Cuban Rumba and Afro-Cuban jazz. Detail is given on many different aspects of the Abakuá, including the history, beliefs, and practices of the secret society, the types of ceremonies, the types of drums and rhythms associated with each ceremony, including their purpose, and the influences of Abakuá on rumba and modern music. The essay concludes with an assessment of the development of the drum set and how this instrument has played a part in the music of the Abakuá as well as Afro-Cuban jazz in general. While this essay covers many elements, the focus remains on the drums and rhythms of the Abakuá and how they have influenced others and evolved throughout this process.


Percussion; Abacua; Abakwa; Clave; Latin Jazz Origins