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Danzon, another popular music/dance form, emerged during the 1870ís.  Danzon  represented a fusion of two European Country and Court dances and traditional Cuban dances, contradanza and the danza.  Danzon was usually played by bands called charangas francescas (French orchestras) now known as charangas.  Charangas fundamentally consist of a rhythm section (contrabass, timbales and guiro), strings (several violins or a cello and several violins) and a flute.  In the 1940ís piano, congas and sometimes cowbells were added to the ensemble.  Modern charangas such as Charanga Moderna and Charanga 76 also include vocalists.  The traditional charanga sound is very smooth and with a sweet, elegant cadence and  less emphasis on the hard-driving percussive elements of other Cuban music forms.

Text Box:    Compare the sound of the charanga of Alfred De La Fey to the more modern  rendition of danzon from Arturo Sandovalís CD Danzon (Dance On).

Like the son, danzon begins with  upright posture with the man and woman facing each other in a traditional ballroom embrace. At various times during the dance, the couple separate and stroll arm in arm around the perimeter of the dance floor.  They chat with each other and the other dancers and eventually return to their original dance embrace.    Danzon is performed on the contratempo and couples move around the floor in a slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick rhythmic pattern. 

The San Francisco Bay Area is fortunate to have a local charanga band called  Orquestra La Moderna TradicionOrchesta La Moderna Tradicion is one of the only ensembles in the U.S. that is dedicated to the performance of classic Cuban dance music, particularly the lilting sounds of the danzon. For more information on Orchesta La Moderna Tradicion, click here.


Rebecca Mauleon, The Salsa Guidebook

F. Figueroa,Encyclopedia of  Latin American Music

 Vernon Boggs, Salsiology  

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