Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba


A new genre in Matanzas: the danzonete

Gloria Machado León 22 junio, 2017

Throughout musical history this manifestation has undergone significant changes in the harmonic and melodic characteristics of the songs, the times, the harmonies and measures.

Thus, rhythms, such as cha cha tea, salsa, guaracha and merengue, gradually emerged. From Matanzas are mambo, rumba and danzón, genres enriched with the passing of the years adopting new characteristics or giving way to others, among them the danzonete.

At the end of the decade of 20 of the last century, the musical and dance environment was unfavorable for the danzón, due to the preference for the son and for the Jazz Band orchestras with music of North American origin. In this context the contracts for the danzoneras groups were scarce.

Aniceto Diaz separated the main characteristics of son: regular rhythm, melody and simple harmony, the alternation of a single and a refrain, from the primitive Montunos sounds and, without trying to structure a new dance, created what would be called danzonete.

Connected from a very young age to the world of music, José Manuel Aniceto Díaz was a flutist, composer, conductor, teacher and creator of the danzonete. At the age of ten he approaches music by helping to carry instruments in an orchestra, while learning the craft of tailoring and studying music theory and theory with an uncle.

Later he studied with the instrumentalist Eduardo Betancourt, of the Orchestra of Miguel Failde, and already in 1902 replaced his teacher in the orchestra where he remained several years. Around 1910 he began as a musician, playing the flute and composing danzones, among them The Nutcracker, Yattey, The Flea and The Little Girl of Kisses.

In 1914 he created his own orchestra with which he performed for the first time at the Matanzas High School. But the danzón was already in decline while the son ascended in the popular preference, which did not go unnoticed for Aniceto, who studied the phenomenon and created what would call danzonete.

Aniceto Díaz and his orchestra were in great demand in the halls and Matanzas societies. The 25 of November of 1929 appeared in the first transmission of the Radio PWX, of Matanzas, and later in Cuban Telephone, of Havana.

On June 8th, 1929, the first danzonete, entitled Breaking the Routine, was premiered at the Spanish Casino of Matanzas. The new genre emphasized much the solo singer and its montuno becomes almost a guaracha. From 1930 to 1932 the genre was successfully released in a musical magazine of the Martí Theater, in the capital.

In fashion, Fernando Collazo and Abelardo Barroso, colossi of the son, are quickly integrated; Joseíto Fernández, king of the Guajira Guantanamera; Paulina Álvarez, queen of the danzonete and Alberto Aroche. There were also the orchestras of Antonio María Roméu, Armando Valdés Torres and Miguel Matamoros.

It is said that the fashion of the danzonete was not very long, but its irruption in the national musical panorama revolutionized the way of playing and dancing of the Cubans in the decade of years 30 of century XX.

Aniceto Díaz used her talent to give the danzón a voice and to link the two most significant dance rhythms of her era: the Cuban National Son and Dance, giving Matanzas the pride of being the mother of such a Cuban musical composition.


Original text by on June 22nd, 2017

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