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This article is about the dance music. For the band, see Contradanza (band).

The Cuban contradanza (also called contradanza criolla, danza, danza criolla, or habanera) was a popular dance music genre of the 19th century. It was the first written music to be rhythmically based on an African motif, and the first Cuban dance to gain international popularity. Habanera is the name used outside of Cuba, for the Cuban contradanza.[1] Manuel states that "In Cuba itself, the term habanera . . . was only adopted subsequent to its international popularization, coming in the latter 1800s" (2009: 97).[2]

Origins and Early Development[edit]

Its origins dated back to the European contredanse, which was an internationally popular form of music and dance of the late 18th century. It was brought to Santiago de Cuba by French colonists fleeing the Haitian Revolution in the 1790s (Carpentier 2001:146). The earliest Cuban contradanza of which a record remains is "San Pascual Bailón," written in 1803 (Orovio 1981:118). This work shows the contradanza in its embryonic form, lacking characteristics that would later set it apart from the contredanse. The time signature is 2/4 with two sections of eight bars, repeated- AABB (Santos 1982).

During the first half of the 19th century, the contradanza dominated the Cuban musical scene to such an extent that nearly all Cuban composers of the time, whether composing for the concert hall or the dance hall, tried their hands at the contradanza (Alén 1994:82). Among them, Manuel Saumell (1817–1870) is the most noted (Carpentier 2001:185-193).

The contradanza, when played as dance music, was performed by the orquesta típica, an ensemble composed of two violins, two clarinets, a contrabass, a cornet, a trombone, an ophicleide, paila and a güiro (Alén 1994:82).

Cinquillo, tresillo, and the habanera rhythm[edit]

Cinquillo. About this sound Play 
Tresillo.[3][4] About this sound Play 

The cinquillo (a variant of the more basic tresillo) is a syncopated rhythmic cell whose introduction into the contradanza/danza began its differentiation from a strictly European form of music. Carpentier (2001:149) states that the cinquillo was brought to Cuba in the songs of the black slaves and freedmen who emigrated to Santiago de Cuba from Haiti in the 1790s. Although the cinquillo was introduced into the contradanza in Santiago at the beginning of the 19th century, composers in western Cuba remained ignorant of its existence:

"In the days when a trip from Havana to Santiago was a fifteen-day adventure (or more), it was possible for two types of contradanza to coexist: one closer to the classical pattern, marked by the spirits of the minuet, which later would be reflected in the danzón, by way of the danza; the other, more popular, which followed its evolution begun in Haiti, thanks to the presence of the 'French Blacks' in eastern Cuba (Carpentier 2001:150)."

Manuel disputes Carpentier's claim that the cinquillo was first incorporated into the contradanza in Santiago. Among other things, Manuel cites "at least a half a dozen Havana counterparts, whose existence refutes Carpentier's claim for the absence of the cinquillo in Havana contradanza" (Manuel 2009: 55-56).[5] The cinquillo pattern is sounded on a bell in the folkloric Congolese-based makuta, as played in Havana.[6] As one of the most common rhythmic patterns found in Africa and in music of the Diaspora, cinquillo survived in many former slave ports of the New World, including both Santiago and Havana.

Tresillo is used for ostinato bass figures of some contradanzas, such as "Tu madre es conga."[7] Another tresillo variant popularized by the Cuban contradanza is the rhythmic cell referred to as the habanera rhythm,[8] congo,[9] tango-congo,[10] or tango.[11]

"Habanera" rhythm. About this sound Play 

Danza[edit]

According to Argeliers Léon (1974:8), the word danza was merely a contraction of contradanza and there are no substantial differences between the music of the contradanza and the danza. In fact, both terms continued to denominate what was essentially the same thing throughout the 19th century.[12]

A danza entitled " El Sungambelo," dated 1813, has the same structure as the contradanza- the four-section scheme is repeated twice: ABAB (Santos 1982). In this early piece, the cinquillo rhythm can already be heard.

Later Development[edit]

The contradanza in 6/8 evolved into the clave (not to be confused with the key pattern of the same name), the criolla and the guajira. From the contradanza in 2/4 came the (danza) habanera and the danzón (Carpentier 2001:147).

The danza dominated Cuban music in the second half of the 19th century, though not as completely as the contradanza had in the first half. Two famous Cuban composers in particular, Ignacio Cervantes (1847–1905) and Ernesto Lecuona (1895–1963), used the danza as the basis of some of their most memorable compositions. And, in spite of competition from the danzón, which eventually won out, the danza continued to be composed as dance music into the 1920s. By this time, the charanga had replaced the orquesta típica of the 19th century (Alén 1994:82- example: "Tutankamen" by Ricardo Reverón).

The music and dance of the contradanza/danza are no longer popular in Cuba, but are occasionally featured in the performances of professional or amateur folklore groups.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Manuel, Peter (2009: 97). Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  2. ^ Manuel, Peter (2009: 97).
  3. ^ Garrett, Charles Hiroshi (2008). Struggling to Define a Nation: American Music and the Twentieth Century, p.54. ISBN 9780520254862. Shown in common time and then in cut time with tied sixteenth & eighth note rather than rest.
  4. ^ Sublette, Ned (2007). Cuba and Its Music, p.134. ISBN 978-1-55652-632-9. Shown with tied sixteenth & eighth note rather than rest.
  5. ^ Manuel, Peter (2009: 55-56). Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  6. ^ Coburg, Adrian (2004: 7). "2/2 Makuta" Percusion Afro-Cubana v. 1: Muisca Folklorico. Bern: Coburg.
  7. ^ Manuel, Peter (2009: 20). Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  8. ^ Roberts, John Storm (1979: 6). The Latin tinge: the impact of Latin American music on the United States. Oxford.
  9. ^ Manuel, Peter (2009: 69). Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  10. ^ Acosta, Leonardo (2003: 5). Cubano Be Cubano Bop; One Hundred Years of Jazz in Cuba. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Books.
  11. ^ Mauleón (1999: 4) Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble. Petaluma, California: Sher Music. ISBN 0-9614701-9-4.
  12. ^ Although the contradanza and danza were musically identical, the dances were different

Discography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Alén, Olavo. 1994. De lo Afrocubano a la Salsa. La Habana, Ediciones ARTEX
  • Carpentier, Alejo. Music in Cuba. Edited by Timothy Brennan. Translated by Alan West-Durán. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
  • Léon, Argeliers. 1974. De la Contradanza al Danzón. In Fernández, María Antonia (1974) Bailes Populares Cubanos. La Habana, Editorial Pueblo y Educación.
  • Orovio, Helio. 1981. Diccionario de la Música Cubana. La Habana, Editorial Letras Cubanas. ISBN 959-10-0048-0
  • Santos, John. 1982. The Cuban Danzón: Its Ancestors and Descendants, liner notes. Folkways Records - FW04066

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