Latin

Latin America’s rich but bewildering cultural mix of native, Spanish, Portuguese, African and a few other traditions has produced an astonishing variety of musics. From the dance rhythms of the Dominican Republic’s Bachata to the aerobics of the Zumba and from the Bach/Brazilian hommages of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras… w …to the Argentinian, Astor Piazzolla’s  Nuevo Tango… […]

Hungary

  To the folksong collector during the first decade of the twentieth century Hungary afforded immeasurable opportunity. It is true that the isolated mediæval pattern of life of the peasantry had slowly changed… but peasant culture remained as it always had been, although economic and political conditions were completely altered. Nevertheless, when Bartók and Kodály […]

Contraflow

It may seem that the folk song and dance traffic is only one way, with ‘classical’ composers using (mostly) popular dance rhythms and (sometimes) folk tunes as elements in their works. But there are cases where composers have decided – either out of sheer, altruistic fondness or, more grubbily, for pecuniary advantage (or, of course, an element […]

The Skočná and other dances

Near the beginning of Act 3 of Smetana’s Bartered Bride the circus comes to town. And, after a lengthy and tongue-twisting preamble by the ringmaster featuring Esmeralda, an exotic Spanish dancer; a (fake) Red Indian and a very inebriate (and consequently also fake) dancing bear; the performers show off their acrobatic skills in the fast […]

¡Habanera!

Habanera? Of course you know what it is! A very famous example — The dance originates from Havana, hence Habanera; its provenance being more obvious, perhaps, from its other title, the Havanaise. As a popular rhythm it certainly caught on with French composers during the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century; here’s another version, […]