Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar. According to one writer, to qualify as a trovador in Cuba, a person should a) sing songs of his own composition, or of others of the same kind; b) accompany himself on the guitar; and c) deal poetically with the song. This definition fits best the singers of boleros, and less well the Afrocubans singing funky sones ( El Guayabero) or even guaguancós and abakuá ( Chicho Ibáñez). It rules out, perhaps unfairly, singers who accompanied themselves on the piano.
Probably, this kind of life had been going on for some time, but it comes into focus when we learn about named individuals who left their marks on Cuban popular music.
[[Image:Casa de la Trova Santiago Cuba.jpg|thumb|right|280px|
Casa de la Trova, Santiago de Cuba]]
Trova musicians have played an important part in the evolution of Cuban popular music. Collectively, they have been prolific as composers, and have provided a start for many later musicians whose career lay in larger groupings. Socially, they reached every community in the country, and have helped to spread Cuban music throughout the world.
- Canizares, Dulcila 1995. La trova tradicional. 2nd ed, La Habana.↩
- "Trata de poetizar con su canto" in the original. Nicola, Noel . Por qué nueva trova? El Caimán Barbudo #92, p10-12.↩
- Bola de Nieve was an unusual case: a trained pianist who accompanied his piano with a gravelly voice. He is better classified as a salon entertainer than a trova artist.↩
- Giro Radamés 2007. Diccionario enciclopédico de la música en Cuba. La Habana. vol 4, p206 et seq.↩