contradanza

A 19th-century Cuban salon and popular dance and music genre often mistaken abroad as habanera, but which denotes Havana-style contradanza in addition to an earlier style of contradanza: namely, a Spanish line dance popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries thought to come from an older English "country dance" (thus the Spanish corruption of the name). It was Franco-Haitian slaves seeking refuge in Oriente in the 1790s, however, not the Spanish, who introduced the genre to island, in the form of the French contredanse.

Although rhythmically tame by contemporary Afro-Cuban standards, the contradanza was scandalously syncopated for its time because it represented one of the earliest obvious entrances of African rhythm into Cuban music salons which had until then been a venue for strictly European forms like waltzes, quadrilles and schottisches. Previously, European instruments, melodies and harmonies had worked their way into the musical practices of Cuban slaves, but no such reversal of musical influence had been so strong until the appearance of the contradanza.

While the Cuban contradanza was well-established by the turn of the 19th centurty, the earliest surviving example is "San Pascual Bailón," which dates fron 1803.

Sheet music for "La Matilde," composed by Manuel Samuell (b. 1817)