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Danzon And Palito History And Development Drummers Guide

The style developed in the second half of the 19th century, and has been an important root for Cuban music until today. Created by Miguel de Failde, the earliest known Danzon ("Las Alturas de Simpson" or "Simpson Heights") was performed on New Year's Day in 1879. It developed from the French "contredanse" ("opposite dance" or "facing dance") which arrived in Cuba between 1790 and 1850 via immigrants from Haiti and Louisiana. Similar to a slave dance already in Cuba (couples facing each other in a line), the contradanza was readily accepted by all segments of Cuban society. The normally instrumental contradanzas ("San Pascual Bailon" or "The Great Holy Easter Dance" being the first known composition, 1803) developed into the "danza," consisting of lyrics, melodies, and intricate rhythms.

Eventually, the two styles merged into the slower, more relaxed Danzon. The true Danzon follows a specific arrangement: the Paseo (prelude), the primary musical theme (played on a flute), the prelude repeated, and a violin section. The addition of the popular Cuban dance music known as Son produced a fourth section, the Mambo (originally called the "Nuevo Ritmo" or "New Rhythm"), which introduced improvisation into Cuban music.

In addition, this new music encouraged the creation of the timbales, due to the impossibility of transporting timpani around the island. Finally, the Danzon became the Danzon Cha which led to the Cha Cha. Though it's not played frequently in modern day ensembles, Danzon characteristics pervade all contemporary Afro Cuban styles. Since the timbales were the original percussion instrument used in Danzon and preceded the invention of the drum set, the appropriate method to recreate the timbale sound on a drum set is to play the snare drum with the snares off. The Danzon style requires a meticulous combination of a snare drum rim click, finger tapping, and the striking of the drum with a stick. The following grooves can be effectively interchanged with a Cha Cha or Bolero as a result of the slow tempo of all three styles.

Quarter note = one hundred and ten beats per minute. Palito ("Little Stick") is not a style of music, rather, it is an Afro Cuban rhythm that was the inspiration for the Cascara pattern. The Palito rhythm was originally played on an instrument entitled the Gua Gua hollowed out piece of bamboo and was played in Rumbas or during Rumba sections.

Currently, the pattern is commonly played on an assortment of surfaces such as the shell of the timbales, different bells, or various pieces of wood, and the rims of hand drums or the drum set. The Palito pattern originated on percussion instruments only to later find its way to the drum set. It is a two measure pattern which complements specific sides of the clave.

Though it may be played with a 3-2 or a 2-3 clave (rumba or son), the position of the clave remains constant with the notes of the Palito pattern. This pattern can be played in a wide variety of tempos, ranging from slower feels of quarter note = one hundred twenty beats per minute to brighter tempos of quarter note = two hundred sixty four beats per minute.

By Eric Starg. Eric is using ATA cases for his Bass Drums, Marching Drums and Ayotte Custom Drums. Eric is a member of Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.

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