Let’s talk about the style known as danzón. This is a very peculiar style within Cuban music, since it has several different playing outlines.

We recorded a danzón that is called “Las alturas de Simson.” The main characteristic in danzón style is the clave rhythm, which the goes: “tan, tan, tan, tan, tan, tan, tan, tan.”

The first prerequisite for all musicians in order to be able to perform any Cuban music style is to have a good sense of the clave, to acquire an internal clave feel.

Every musician must have an organic clave feel in his heart and mind when performing, whether the percussion plays it or not.

If the clave is not felt inside, it is impossible to approach any style of Cuban music.

Both danzón and cha-cha-chá styles share a very easy clave. In the cha-cha-chá, the clave would be: “tan, tan, tan, tan,” a more stable pattern.

In the case of son, we have two claves: the traditional Cuban one… (uses his hands to clap and show the rhythm) or the guaguancó clave…(uses his hands to clap and show the rhythm)…

It is very important to always keep them in mind.

To approach the danzón, which we talked about before, I’m going to play the same piece I played before. Danzón can start with a piano introduction or right away.

The form is as follows: The theme; then a trio, which is the singing part; a musical part in which the dancers have break; the dancing starts again when it goes back to the theme; and then a montuno, which would be the theme again. For example: (plays the piano)

This theme is this danzón’s main theme. Then it has two bridges, or trios, one that goes: (plays the piano)

Theme (plays the piano)

Trio (plays the piano)

When that trio ends, it goes back to the theme.

All of these will sound much more rich, as far as the musician is able to enhance it harmonically.

Because we can do… (plays the piano)

We can stay on tonic and dominant if we go: (plays the piano)

…The same harmonic movement is going to give us a richer melody…

We added a montuno section to the ensemble arrangement; this danzón originally does not have one. When we got to that part, we did a fill… (plays the piano), and there I played: (plays the piano).

As you can see, the cadence is similar to the son. The danzón is an older style than son or montuno son. It’s really matter of choice to add the montuno part.

The bass has less movement when playing a montuno part in the danzón due to the balanced nature of this style. The piano also plays a very steady montuno part… (plays piano).

If the piano we were to play a son montuno, then it would be like this… (plays the piano).

The tempo has a lot to do with it; it would be a bit faster…

There is a very strong relationship between danzón, son montuno, and son.


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