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This article is about the dance and its music. Contradanza_sentence_0

For the band, see Contradanza (band). Contradanza_sentence_1

For The aria from "Carmen", see Habanera (aria). Contradanza_sentence_2


Music of CubaContradanza_header_cell_0_0_0
General topicsContradanza_header_cell_0_1_0
Specific formsContradanza_header_cell_0_3_0
Religious musicContradanza_header_cell_0_4_0 Contradanza_cell_0_4_1
Traditional musicContradanza_header_cell_0_5_0 Contradanza_cell_0_5_1
Media and performanceContradanza_header_cell_0_6_0
Music awardsContradanza_header_cell_0_7_0 Beny Moré AwardContradanza_cell_0_7_1
Nationalistic and patriotic songsContradanza_header_cell_0_8_0
National anthemContradanza_header_cell_0_9_0 La BayamesaContradanza_cell_0_9_1
Regional musicContradanza_header_cell_0_10_0

Contradanza (also called contradanza criolla, danza, danza criolla, or habanera) is the Spanish and Spanish-American version of the contradanse, which was an internationally popular style of music and dance in the 18th century, derived from the English country dance and adopted at the court of France. Contradanza_sentence_3

Contradanza was brought to America and there took on folkloric forms that still exist in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Ecuador. Contradanza_sentence_4

In Cuba during the 19th century, it became an important genre, the first written music to be rhythmically based on an African rhythm pattern and the first Cuban dance to gain international popularity, the progenitor of danzón, mambo and cha-cha-cha, with a characteristic "habanera rhythm" and sung lyrics. Contradanza_sentence_5

Outside Cuba, the Cuban contradanza became known as the habanera – the dance of Havana – and that name was adopted in Cuba itself subsequent to its international popularity in the later 19th century, though it was never so called by the people who created it. Contradanza_sentence_6

History Contradanza_section_0

The contradanza was popular in Spain and spread throughout Spanish America during the 18th century. Contradanza_sentence_7

According to musicologist Peter Manuel, it may be impossible to resolve the question of the contradanza's origin, as it has been pointed out by Cuban musicologist Natalio Galán in humoristically labeling the genre as "anglofrancohispanoafrocubano" (English-French-Spanish-African-Cuban). Contradanza_sentence_8

The most conventional consensus in regard to the origin of this popular Cuban genre was established by novelist Alejo Carpentier, in his book from 1946, La Música en Cuba. Contradanza_sentence_9

In the book, he proposes a theory that signals the French contredance, supposedly introduced in Cuba by French immigrants fleeing the Haitian Revolution (1791–1803), as the prototype for the creation of the creolized Cuban Contradanza. Contradanza_sentence_10

However, according to other important Cuban musicologists, such as Zoila Lapique and Natalio Galan, it is quite likely that the Contradanza had been introduced to Havana directly from Spain, France or England several decades earlier. Contradanza_sentence_11

The earliest Cuban contradanza of which a record remains is "San Pascual Bailón", which was written in 1803. Contradanza_sentence_12

Certain characteristics would set the Cuban contradanza apart from the contredanse by the mid-19th century, notably the incorporation of the African cross-rhythm called the tresillo. Contradanza_sentence_13

The habanera is also slower and as a dance more graceful in style than the older contradanza but retains the binary form of classical dance, being composed in two parts of 8 to 16 bars each, though often with an introduction. Contradanza_sentence_14

An early identifiable contradanza habanera, "La Pimienta", an anonymous song published in an 1836 collection, is the earliest known piece to use the characteristic habanera rhythm in the left hand of the piano. Contradanza_sentence_15

The contradanza, when played as dance music, was performed by an orquesta típica composed of two violins, two clarinets, a contrabass, a cornet, a trombone, an ophicleide, paila and a güiro (Alén 1994:82). Contradanza_sentence_16

But the habanera was sung as well as danced. Contradanza_sentence_17

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). Contradanza_sentence_18

Among them Manuel Saumell (1817–1870) is the most noted (Carpentier 2001:185–193). Contradanza_sentence_19

The New Orleans born pianist/composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–1869) wrote several pieces with the rhythm, gleaned in part from his travels through Cuba and the West Indies: "Danza" (1857), "La Gallina, Danse Cubaine" (1859), "Ojos Criollos" (1859) and "Souvenir de Porto Rico" (1857) among others. Contradanza_sentence_20

It is thought that the Cuban style was brought by sailors to Spain, where it became popular for a while before the turn of the twentieth century. Contradanza_sentence_21

The Basque composer Sebastian Yradier's "La Paloma" ("The Dove"), achieved great fame in Spain and America. Contradanza_sentence_22

The dance was adopted by all classes of society and had its moment in English and French salons. Contradanza_sentence_23

It was so well established as a Spanish dance that Jules Massenet included one in the ballet music to his opera Le Cid (1885). Contradanza_sentence_24

Maurice Ravel wrote a Vocalise-Étude en forme de Habanera, and a habanera for Rapsodie espagnole (movement III, originally a piano piece written in 1895), Camille Saint-Saëns' Havanaise for violin and orchestra is still played and recorded today, as is Emmanuel Chabrier's Habanera for orchestra (originally for piano). Contradanza_sentence_25

Bernard Herrmann's score for Vertigo (1958) makes prominent use of the rhythm as a clue to the film's mystery. Contradanza_sentence_26

In Andalusia (especially Cadiz), Valencia, Alicante, and Catalonia, the habanera is still popular. Contradanza_sentence_27

"La Paloma", "La bella Lola" or "El meu avi" ("My Grandfather") are well known. Contradanza_sentence_28

From Spain, the style arrived in the Philippines where it still exists as a minor art-form. Contradanza_sentence_29

In the 20th century, the habanera gradually became a relic form in Cuba, especially after the success of the son. Contradanza_sentence_30

However, some of its compositions were transcribed and reappeared in other formats later on: Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes' Tú is still a much-loved composition. Contradanza_sentence_31

The music and dance of the contradanza/danza are no longer popular in Cuba but are occasionally featured in the performances of folklore groups. Contradanza_sentence_32

Rhythm Contradanza_section_1

The habanera rhythm's time signature is 4. Contradanza_sentence_33

An accented upbeat in the middle of the bar lends power to the habanera rhythm, especially when it is as a bass ostinato in contradanzas such as "Tu madre es conga." Contradanza_sentence_34

Syncopated cross-rhythms called the tresillo and the cinquillo, basic rhythmic cells in Afro-Latin and African music, began the Cuban dance's differentiation from its European form. Contradanza_sentence_35

Their unequally-grouped accents fall irregularly in a one or two bar pattern: the rhythm superimposes duple and triple accents in cross-rhythm (3:2) or vertical hemiola. Contradanza_sentence_36

This pattern is heard throughout Africa, and in many diaspora musics, known as the congo, tango-congo, and tango. Contradanza_sentence_37

Thompson identifies the rhythm as the Kongo mbilu a makinu ("call to the dance"). Contradanza_sentence_38

The syncopated rhythm may be vocalised as "", and "da, ka ka kan." It may be sounded with the Ghanaian beaded gourd instrument axatse, vocalized as: "pa ti pa pa", beginning on the second beat so that the last "pa" coincides with beat one, ending on the beginning of the cycle so that the part contributes to the cyclic nature of the rhythm, the "pa's" sounding the tresillo by striking the gourd against the knee, and the "ti" sounding the main beat two by raising the gourd and striking it with the free hand. Contradanza_sentence_39

The cinquillo pattern is sounded on a bell in the folkloric Congolese-based makuta as played in Havana. Contradanza_sentence_40


  • Contradanza_item_0_0

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 and that composers in western Cuba remained ignorant of its existence: Contradanza_sentence_41

Manuel disputes Carpentier's claim, mentioning "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). Contradanza_sentence_42

Danza, tango and later developments Contradanza_section_2

The 8 contradanza evolved into the clave (not to be confused with the key pattern of the same name), the criolla and the guajira. Contradanza_sentence_43

From the contradanza in 4 came the (danza) habanera and the danzón (Carpentier 2001:147). Contradanza_sentence_44

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. Contradanza_sentence_45

Both terms continued to denominate what was essentially the same thing throughout the 19th century. Contradanza_sentence_46

But although the contradanza and danza were musically identical, the dances were different. Contradanza_sentence_47

A danza entitled "El Sungambelo", dated 1813, has the same structure as the contradanza – the four-section scheme is repeated twice, ABAB (Santos 1982) and the cinquillo rhythm can already be heard. Contradanza_sentence_48

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. Contradanza_sentence_49

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. Contradanza_sentence_50

In Cuba the danza was supplanted by the danzón from the 1870s onwards, though the danza continued to be composed as dance music into the 1920s. Contradanza_sentence_51

By this time, the charanga had replaced the orquesta típica of the 19th century (Alén 1994:82 – example: by Ricardo Reverón). Contradanza_sentence_52

The danzón has a different but related rhythm, the baqueteo, and the dance is quite different. Contradanza_sentence_53

The Argentine milonga and tango makes use of the habanera rhythm of a dotted quarter-note followed by three eighth-notes, with an accent on the first and third notes. Contradanza_sentence_54

To some extent the habanera rhythm is retained in early tangos, notably El Choclo and "La Morocha" (1904). Contradanza_sentence_55

As the consistent rhythmic foundation of the bass line in Argentine tango the habanera lasted for a relatively short time until a variation, noted by Roberts, began to predominate. Contradanza_sentence_56

In 1883 Ventura Lynch, a student of the dances and folklore of Buenos Aires, noted the milonga was "so universal in the environs of the city that it is an obligatory piece at all the lower-class dances (bailecitos de medio pelo), and ... has also been taken up by the organ-grinders, who have arranged it so as to sound like the habanera dance. Contradanza_sentence_57

It is danced in the low life clubs ..." Contradanza_sentence_58

Ornamented and distributed throughout the texture, the contradanza remains an essential part of the tango's music. Contradanza_sentence_59

Anibal Troilo's "La trampera" (Cheating Woman), recorded by him in 1962, uses the same habanera heard in Bizet's Carmen. Contradanza_sentence_60

African-American music Contradanza_section_3

African-American music began incorporating Cuban musical motifs in the 1800s. Contradanza_sentence_61

Musicians from Havana and New Orleans would take the twice-daily ferry between those cities to perform. Contradanza_sentence_62

Whether the rhythm and its variants were directly transplanted from Cuba or merely reinforced similar rhythmic tendencies already present in New Orleans is probably impossible to determine. Contradanza_sentence_63

The habanera rhythm is heard prominently in New Orleans second line music, and there are examples of similar rhythms in some African-American folk music such as the foot-stamping patterns in ring shout and in post-Civil War drum and fife music. Contradanza_sentence_64

John Storm Roberts states that the musical genre "reached the U.S. 20 years before the first rag was published". Contradanza_sentence_65

For the more than quarter-century in which the cakewalk, ragtime, and proto-jazz were forming and developing, the habanera was a consistent part of African-American popular music. Contradanza_sentence_66

Early New Orleans jazz bands had habaneras in their repertoire and the tresillo/habanera figure was a rhythmic staple of jazz at the turn of the 20th century. Contradanza_sentence_67

A habanera was written and published in Butte, Montanta in 1908. Contradanza_sentence_68

The song was titled "Solita" and was written by Jack Hangauer. Contradanza_sentence_69

Scott Joplin's "Solace" (1909) is considered a habanera (though it is labeled a "Mexican serenade"). Contradanza_sentence_70

"St. Louis Blues" (1914) by W. Contradanza_sentence_71 C. Handy has a habanera/tresillo bass line. Contradanza_sentence_72

Handy noted a reaction to the habanera rhythm included in Will H. Tyler's "Maori": "I observed that there was a sudden, proud and graceful reaction to the rhythm ... White dancers, as I had observed them, took the number in stride. Contradanza_sentence_73

I began to suspect that there was something Negroid in that beat." Contradanza_sentence_74

After noting a similar reaction to the same rhythm in "La Paloma", Handy included this rhythm in his "St. Louis Blues", the instrumental copy of "Memphis Blues", the chorus of "Beale Street Blues", and other compositions. Contradanza_sentence_75

Jelly Roll Morton considered the tresillo/habanera (which he called the Spanish tinge) an essential ingredient of jazz. Contradanza_sentence_76

The rhythm can be heard in the left hand on songs such as "The Crave" (1910, recorded in 1938). Contradanza_sentence_77

Although the exact origins of jazz syncopation may never be known, there’s evidence that the habanera/tresillo was there at its conception. Contradanza_sentence_78

Buddy Bolden, the first known jazz musician, is credited with creating the big four, a habanera-based pattern. Contradanza_sentence_79

The big four (below) was the first syncopated bass drum pattern to deviate from the standard on-the-beat march. Contradanza_sentence_80

As the example below shows, the second half of the big four pattern is the habanera rhythm. Contradanza_sentence_81


  • Contradanza_item_1_1

See also Contradanza_section_4


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