Cuban Music in the Method: 

Flores Chaviano (b. 1946) is another Cuban composer that forms part of the method’s repertoire. He studied composition with José Ardévol and Sergio Fernández and guitar with Isaac Nicola. After his arrival in Madrid in 1981, he studied at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música. Chaviano possesses a vast catalog of compositions with different formats like ensemble, choir, ballet, solo guitar, etc. He has taught in renowned schools and universities in Cuba, Spain, the EU. Currently, he teaches guitar and chamber music at the Conservatorio Profesional Federico Moreno Torroba of Madrid. 

There are six compositions of Chaviano in the method but I want to refer to Cubanita. The pieces is included in the third book. Cubanita presents the form of a contradance and Habanera, the main characteristics of the Cuban genre called habanera. 

The contradance was among the first syncretic ballroom genres to gain popularity in the early 19th century. This genre fusions predominantly figures-dancing European-derived music with light percussive accompaniment. It features the cinquillo popularized in Cuba beginning in the 1790s.[1] (See Example 1)

Example 1 Cinquillo pattern

Commonly, contradances had two sections of eight measures each, and each part would repeat for thirty-two bars in four sections. In each section, the group of couples aligned by sex did the figures: paseo, cadena, sostenido, and cedazo. The contradance would repeat several times until everybody could dance with each person.[2]

According to Argeliers León, an influential Cuban musicologist, the first part, with its repetition, has the character “Tranquillo.” In contrast, the second part is “vivo and picante,” meaning lively and spicy. The difference relies not on a tempo change but on more accentuated and syncopated rhythms. Influential contradance figures like Manuel Saumell (1818-1870) would add this contrast to the second part with rhythms more “criollos” while the first part was more European, far from the African influences.[3]

Even though Cubanita does not have such a strict eight- measure-long section, it alternates contrasting parts with different rhythms and character. It starts with straightforward 16th-notes supported on the third measure by a syncopated bass. In m. 8, the rhythm changes to cinquillo in the bass and long chords on top, which gives it a lively and more flavorful character. The 16th-notes return in m. 17, but it quickly fragments the phrase with cinquillo and 8th-notes rhythm alternation. This whole section repeats. (See Example 2)

Example 2 Flores Chaviano, Cubanita.

From the technical perspective, the student will practice slurs, scales, and chords with syncopated bass rhythms in the thumb. Plenty of bass and chord alternation is used to work on the right-hand technique. There are articulation indications, like accents that will require the student to work on the independence of the fingers. There are also sudden rests like at the end of each part before the final chords, where the student must cut all the resonance.

[1] Gerard Béhague and Robin Moore, “Cuba, Republic O,” Grove Music Online, 2021; Accessed March 11, 2023.

[2] Nohema Fernández, “La Contradanza Cubana y Manuel Saumell,” Latin American Music Review / Revista De Música Latinoamericana, vol. 10, no. 1(1989): p. 121,

[3] Fernández, 122.