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"Danzon" redirects here. Danzón_sentence_0

For the surname, see Danzon (surname). Danzón_sentence_1

For the film, see Danzón (film). Danzón_sentence_2


Music of CubaDanzón_header_cell_0_0_0
General topicsDanzón_header_cell_0_1_0
Specific formsDanzón_header_cell_0_3_0
Religious musicDanzón_header_cell_0_4_0 Danzón_cell_0_4_1
Traditional musicDanzón_header_cell_0_5_0 Danzón_cell_0_5_1
Media and performanceDanzón_header_cell_0_6_0
Music awardsDanzón_header_cell_0_7_0 Beny Moré AwardDanzón_cell_0_7_1
Nationalistic and patriotic songsDanzón_header_cell_0_8_0
National anthemDanzón_header_cell_0_9_0 La BayamesaDanzón_cell_0_9_1
Regional musicDanzón_header_cell_0_10_0

Danzón is the official musical genre and dance of Cuba. Danzón_sentence_3

It is also an active musical form in Mexico, and is much loved in Puerto Rico as well. Danzón_sentence_4

Written in 4 time, the danzón is a slow, formal partner dance, requiring set footwork around syncopated beats, and incorporating elegant pauses while the couples stand listening to virtuoso instrumental passages, as characteristically played by a charanga or típica ensemble. Danzón_sentence_5

The danzón evolved from the Cuban contradanza, or habanera ('Havana-dance'). Danzón_sentence_6

The contradanza, which had English and French roots in the country dance and contredanse, was probably introduced to Cuba by the Spanish, who ruled the island for almost four centuries (1511–1898), contributing many thousands of immigrants. Danzón_sentence_7

It may also have been partially seeded during the short-lived British occupation of Havana in 1762, and Haitian refugees fleeing the island's revolution of 1791–1804 brought the French-Haitian kontradans, contributing their own Creole syncopation. Danzón_sentence_8

In Cuba, the dances of European origin acquired new stylistic features derived from African rhythm and dance to produce a genuine fusion of European and African influences. Danzón_sentence_9

African musical traits in the danzón include complex instrumental cross-rhythms, expressed in staggered cinquillo and tresillo patterns. Danzón_sentence_10

By 1879, the year Miguel Failde's Las alturas de Simpson was first performed (in Matanzas), danzón had emerged as a distinct genre. Danzón_sentence_11

Danzón went on to interact with 20th-century Cuban genres such as son, and through the danzón-mambo it was instrumental in the development of mambo and cha-cha-chá. Danzón_sentence_12

History Danzón_section_0

The danzón developed from the habanera, a creolized Cuban dance form. Danzón_sentence_13

By 1879, the year Las alturas de Simpson composed by Miguel Failde (leader of the Orquesta Faílde) was first performed in Matanzas, danzón had emerged as a distinct genre. Danzón_sentence_14

Creation of the new danzón form is generally attributed to Faílde. Danzón_sentence_15

The classical composer Manuel Saumell has also been cited as a key figure in its delineation. Danzón_sentence_16

Precursors: figure dances Danzón_section_1

The English contradanza was the predecessor of the "habanera", also known as danza criolla. Danzón_sentence_17

Out of this Creole genre, the Habanera, was born in 1879 another Cuban genre, called danzon, a sequence dance, in which all danced together a set of figures. Danzón_sentence_18

The first use of the term danzón, which dates from the 1850s, is for just such a dance. Danzón_sentence_19

Havana's daily paper, El Triunfo, gave a description of this earlier danzón. Danzón_sentence_20

It was a co-ordinated dance of figures performed by groups of Matanzas blacks. Danzón_sentence_21

The dancers held the ends of colored ribbons, and carried flower-covered arches. Danzón_sentence_22

The group twisted and entwined the ribbons to make pleasing patterns. Danzón_sentence_23

This account can be corroborated by other references, for example, a traveler in Cuba noted in 1854 that black Cubans "do a kind of wreath dance, in which the whole company took part, amid innumerable artistic entanglements and disentanglements". Danzón_sentence_24

This style of danzón was performed at carnival comparsas by black groups: it is described that way before the late 1870s. Danzón_sentence_25

Faílde's first danzóns were created for just such sequence dances. Danzón_sentence_26

Faílde himself said "In Matanzas at this time there was a kind of square dance for twenty couples who carried arches and flowers. Danzón_sentence_27

It was really a dance of figures (sequence dance), and its moves were adapted to the tempo of the habanera, which we took over for the danzón." Danzón_sentence_28

Structure and instruments Danzón_section_2

The form of danzón created by Miguel Faílde in 1879 (Las alturas de Simpson), begins with an introduction (four bars) and paseo (four bars), which are repeated and followed by a 16-bar melody. Danzón_sentence_29

The introduction and paseo again repeat before a second melody is played. Danzón_sentence_30

The dancers do not dance during these sections: they choose partners, stroll onto the dance floor, and begin to dance at precisely the same moment: the fourth beat of bar four of the paseo, which has a distinctive percussion pattern that's hard to miss. Danzón_sentence_31

When the introduction is repeated the dancers stop, chat, flirt, greet their friends, and start again, right on time as the paseo finishes. Danzón_sentence_32

Early danzón was played by groups called orquestas típicas, which were based on wind instruments. Danzón_sentence_33

They had several brass instruments (cornet, valve trombone, ophicleide), a clarinet or two, a violin or two and tympani (kettle drums). Danzón_sentence_34

At the beginning of the 20th century, the lighter and somewhat more elegant sound of the charanga emerged (see Early Cuban bands). Danzón_sentence_35

Initially, they were small orchestra of two violins, a cello, flute, timbales, güiro, and doublebass. Danzón_sentence_36

Charanga and típicas competed with each other for years, but after 1930 it was clear that the days of the típica were over. Danzón_sentence_37

In 1898, a piano was included in a charanga for the first time. Danzón_sentence_38

In Antonio María Romeu's hands a piano became standard. Danzón_sentence_39

Its musical flexibility, its ability to influence both melody and rhythm, made it invaluable. Danzón_sentence_40

In 1926, in his arrangement of Tres lindas cubanas, Romeu incorporated a piano solo for the first time. Danzón_sentence_41

His was Cuba's top charanga for many years. Danzón_sentence_42

Initial perception Danzón_section_3

Similar to other dances in the Caribbean and Latin America, the danzón was initially regarded as scandalous, especially when it began to be danced by all classes of society. Danzón_sentence_43

The slower rhythm of the danzón led to couples dancing closer, with sinuous movements of the hips and a lower centre of gravity. Danzón_sentence_44

The author of a survey of prostitution in Havana devoted a whole chapter to the iniquities of dancing, and the danzón in particular. Danzón_sentence_45

Articles in newspapers and periodicals took up the theme: Danzón_sentence_46


  • "Because I love my country, it hurts me to see danzón at gatherings of decent people."Danzón_item_0_0
  • "We recommend banning the danza and danzón because they are vestiges of Africa and should be replaced by essentially European dances such as the quadrille and rigadoon."Danzón_item_0_1

Apparently, the danzón, which later became an insipid dance for older couples, was at first danced with "obscene movements" of the hips by young couples in close embrace, with bodies touching, and by couples who might come from different races... Danzón_sentence_47


  • "First we had the danza, then came the danzón... next it will be the rumba, and finally we'll all end up dancing ñáñigo!"Danzón_item_1_2

So, behind the concern about music and dance were concerns about sexual licence, and about miscegenation, the mixing of races. Danzón_sentence_48

As with other similar cases, the criticism was to no avail. Danzón_sentence_49

The danzón became hugely popular, and was the dominant popular music in Cuba until the advent of the son in the 1920s. Danzón_sentence_50

At length the Cuban government made Faílde the official inventor of the danzón – but not until 1960, by which time the danzón had become a relic, and its 'child', the chachachá, had taken over. Danzón_sentence_51

Influence of son Danzón_section_4

In 1910, some 30 years after Faílde's early days, José Urfé added a montuno as a final part of his El Bombín de Barretto. Danzón_sentence_52

This was a swinging section, consisting of a repeated musical phrase, which introduced something of the son into the danzón (a tactic which was to recur again). Danzón_sentence_53

Because of the popularity of son in the 1920s and 1930s, Aniceto Díaz in Rompiendo la rutina in 1929 added a vocal part, thereby creating a new genre called the danzonete. Danzón_sentence_54

Later development led to more syncopation, which eventually led to the danzón-chá, nuevo ritmo, cha-cha-chá, pachanga and mambo. Danzón_sentence_55

From the 1940s to the 1960s danzón and its derivatives were highly popular in Cuba, with several truly fine charangas playing most days of the week. Danzón_sentence_56

Orquesta Aragón kept up an exceptionally high standard for many years, but the danzón itself gradually dropped out, and is now a relic dance. Danzón_sentence_57

Danzón has never ceased to influence Cuban musicians, and it is reflected in many popular Cuban music genres, in Cuban Latin jazz, salsa, songo and timba, the latter building upon the charanga orchestration. Danzón_sentence_58

Groups like Los Van Van and Orquesta Revé developed from charangas. Danzón_sentence_59

Their make-up and orchestration (by Juan Formell) has been so greatly altered that it is difficult to identify traces of danzón; indeed, their present styles owe more to son than to danzón. Danzón_sentence_60

The addition of brass instruments such as trombones and trumpets, and conga drums signalled a wider range of music. Danzón_sentence_61

Mexican Danzón Danzón_section_5

Danzón was also very popular in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, Mexico, because of the strong Cuban influence in the region. Danzón_sentence_62

Later on, danzón developed in Mexico City, specially in the famous Salón México; it has survived as a dance longer there than in Cuba. Danzón_sentence_63

Danzón also flourished in the city of Oaxaca, and many famous danzones were composed by Oaxacan musicians such as the famous Nereidas and Teléfono de larga distancia, both works of Amador Pérez Dimas, from the town of Zaachila, near Oaxaca city. Danzón_sentence_64

Today, people still dance danzón in Mexico, particularly in the main plazas of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Mexico City, and in yearly festivals across Mexico. Danzón_sentence_65

The dance had a second revival in the 1990s, especially among Mexico's senior citizens. Danzón_sentence_66

A film called Danzón was released in 1991 directed by María Novaro. Danzón_sentence_67

Plot: Julia (María Rojo) is a phone operator in Mexico City who lives for her job, her daughter and danzón. Danzón_sentence_68

Every Wednesday, Julia does the danzón with Carmelo (Daniel Rergis) in the Salón Colonia. Danzón_sentence_69

They have danced for years without becoming close. Danzón_sentence_70

One night, Carmelo disappears without a trace. Danzón_sentence_71

Lonely and sad, Julia takes a train to Veracruz, where she knows Carmelo has a brother. Danzón_sentence_72

That trip changes her life. Danzón_sentence_73

Concert music Danzón_section_6

Danzón no. Danzón_sentence_74 2 by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez (b. Danzón_sentence_75

1950) is a popular piece in orchestral concerts. Danzón_sentence_76

Rhythmic structure Danzón_section_7

The basic timbales part for danzón is called the baqueteo. Danzón_sentence_77

In the example above, the slashed noteheads indicate muted drum strokes, and the regular noteheads indicate open strokes. Danzón_sentence_78

The güiro also plays this pattern. Danzón_sentence_79

The danzón was the first written music to be based on the organizing principle of sub-Saharan African rhythm, known in Cuba as clave. Danzón_sentence_80

Style and form structure Danzón_section_8

Danzón is elegant and virtuoso music, with dance. Danzón_sentence_81

A danzón, in its original form, was not sung, and did not feature any improvisations, unlike some other Cuban genres. Danzón_sentence_82

A danzón has the following typical structure: Danzón_sentence_83


  • An introduction or paseo (A), usually 16 bars.Danzón_item_2_3
  • The theme or principal melody (B), featuring the flute, thus often referred to as parte de (la) flauta.Danzón_item_2_4
  • A repeat of the introduction.Danzón_item_2_5
  • The trio (C), featuring the strings, thus also called parte del violín.Danzón_item_2_6
  • Ending. This could either be a cliché ending (there are a few standard danzón endings), another repeat of the introduction, or a combination of both.Danzón_item_2_7

The classic form is thus ABAC or ABACA. Danzón_sentence_84

A danzón-chá or danzón-mambo typically add another part (D), a syncopated open vamp in which soloists may sometimes improvise, creating an ABACD or, more common, ABACAD. Danzón_sentence_85

Mambo section Danzón_section_9

Main article: mambo section Danzón_sentence_86

In danzón, the mambo section is the final section of an arrangement. Danzón_sentence_87

It was first devised by Orestes López, who added syncopated motifs taken from the son, together with improvised flute variations. Danzón_sentence_88

He called this type of danzón ritmo nuevo (new rhythm). Danzón_sentence_89

Orestes' danzón Mambo was the start of a trend continued by Arcaño y sus Maravillas. Danzón_sentence_90

See also Danzón_section_10


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danzón.