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Yuka is a style of Cuban music and dance and a type of drum, of Congolese origin. The word yuka is Bantu, and means 'to beat'. For preference, the drums are made from hollowed-out trunks of the avocado tree. Leather is nailed to one of the open ends, and the player hits the skin with both hands, the drum being slanted between his legs. The drums come in three sizes: caja (large with the lowest tone), mula (middle drum) and cachimbo (a term referring to its small size) which has the highest pitch of the 3 drums. Rhythms may also be played on the drum body, the drummer using a small mallet or a stave in one hand, the other hand slapping the leather. The drummer wears two small rattles (nkembí), made of metal or gourds, on his wrists. The drums may be accompanied by staves on a guagua (hollow wooden slit drum) or the drum body, and by percussion on a piece of iron, the muela or a guataca (a hoe pick used for plowing).[1] The yuka accompanied by this guataca bell plays a variation of the commonly used tresillo pattern.

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National anthemLa Bayamesa
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The secular dance is performed by a couple as a stylised contest: the man chases, the woman avoids.[2] The origin of the yuka lies in western Cuba, particularly Matanzas and Pinar del Río, where it gave rise to the yambú style of rumba.[3]


  1. ^ León, Argiliers 1964. Del canto y el tiempo. La Habana. p67
  2. ^ Orovio, Helio 2003. Cuban music from A to Z. p230
  3. ^ Sublette, Ned (2004). "Rumba". Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press. pp. 258–259.