Bolero is a form of slow-tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

 Latin music and its associated dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

 and song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

. There are Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n forms which are both significant and which have separate origins.

The term is also used for some art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

. In all its forms, the bolero has been popular for over a century.


The bolero is a 3/4 dance that originated in Spain in the late 18th century, a combination of the contradanza
The Cuban contradanza was a popular dance music genre of the 19th century.- Origins and Early Development:...

 and the sevillana. Dancer Sebastiano Carezo
Sebastiano Carezo
Sebastiano Carezo, also known as Sebastian Cerezo, is a Spanish dancer credited with inventing the Spanish dance Bolero in 1780.He is from Cadiz, Spain.-References:...

 is credited with inventing the dance in 1780. It is danced by either a solo
Solo (music)
In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer...

ist or a couple. It is in a moderately slow tempo and is performed to music which is sung and accompanied by castanets and guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s with lyrics of five to seven syllables in each of four lines per verse. It is in triple time
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

 and usually has a triplet
In music a tuplet is "any rhythm that involves dividing the beat into a different number of equal subdivisions from that usually permitted by the...

 on the second beat of each bar.


In Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, the bolero is perhaps the first great Cuban musical and vocal synthesis to win universal recognition. In 2/4 time, this dance music spread to other countries, leaving behind what Ed Morales has called the "most popular lyric tradition in Latin America".

The Cuban bolero tradition originated in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city of Cuba and capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island, some south-east of the Cuban capital of Havana....

 in the last quarter of the 19th century; it does not owe its origin to the Spanish music and song of the same name. In the 19th century there grew up in Santiago de Cuba a group of itinerant musicians who moved around earning their living by singing and playing the guitar.

"Pepe" Sanchez (born José Sánchez at Santiago de Cuba, 1856–1918) is known as the father of the trova
Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar...

style and the creator of the Cuban bolero. Untrained, but with remarkable natural talent, he composed numbers in his head and never wrote them down. As a result, most of these numbers are now lost, but two dozen or so survive because friends and disciples wrote them down. He was the model and teacher for the great trovadores who followed.

The Cuban bolero has traveled to Mexico and the rest of Latin America after its conception, where it became part of their repertoires. Some of the bolero's leading composers have come from nearby countries, most especially the prolific Puerto Rica
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

n composer Rafael Hernández
Rafael Hernández Marín
Rafael Hernández , was one of the most important composers of Puerto Rican popular music during the 20th century.-Early years:...

; another example is Mexico's Agustín Lara
Agustín Lara
Agustín Lara was a Mexican singer and songwriter.-Biography:Lara was born in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz. Later, the Lara family had to move again to Mexico City, establishing their house in the borough of Coyoacán. After Lara's mother died, Agustín and his siblings lived in a hospice run by their...

. Some Cuban composers of the bolero are listed under Trova
Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar...


Bolero fusions

José Loyola comments that the frequent fusions of the bolero with other Cuban rhythms is one of the reasons it has been so fertile for such a long period of time:
"La adaptación y fusión del bolero con otros géneros de la música popular bailable ha contribuido al desarrollo del mismo, y a su vigencia y contemporaneidad."

This adaptability was largely achieved by dispensing with limitations in format or instrumentation, and by an increase in syncopation (so producing a more afrocuban sound). Examples would be:
  • Bolero in the danzón: the advent of lyrics in the danzón to produce the danzonete.
  • The bolero-son: long-time favourite dance music in Cuba, captured abroad under the misnomer 'rumba'.
  • The bolero-mambo in which slow and beautiful lyrics were added to the sophisticated big-band arrangements of the mambo.
  • The bolero-cha: many Cha-cha-cha lyrics come from boleros.

The lyrics of the bolero can be found throughout popular music, especially Latin dance music.

International ballroom

A version of the Cuban bolero is danced throughout the Latin dance world (supervised by the World Dance Council
World Dance Council
The World Dance Council Ltd , is a registered limited company, and the legal successor to the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, and was established at a meeting organised by P.J.S Richardson on 22 September 1950 in Edinburgh...

) under the misnomer 'rumba
Rumba is a family of percussive rhythms, song and dance that originated in Cuba as a combination of the musical traditions of Africans brought to Cuba as slaves and Spanish colonizers. The name derives from the Cuban Spanish word rumbo which means "party" or "spree". It is secular, with no...

'. This came about in the early 1930s when a simple overall term was needed to market Cuban music to audiences unfamiliar with the various Cuban musical terms. The famous Peanut Vendor was so labelled, and the label stuck for other types of Cuban music.

In Cuba, the bolero is usually written in 2/4 time, elsewhere often 4/4. The tempo for dance is about 120 beats per minute. The music has a gentle Cuban rhythm related to a slow son, which is the reason it may be best described as a bolero-son. Like some other Cuban dances, there are three steps to four beats, with the first step of a figure on the second beat, not the first. The slow (over the two beats four and one) is executed with a hip movement over the standing foot, with no foot-flick.

American Rhythm

In the dance known as Bolero is one of the competition dances in American Rhythm ballroom dance category. The first step is typically taken on the first beat, held during the second beat with two more steps falling on beats three and four (cued as "slow-quick-quick"). In competitive dance the music is in 4/4 time and will range between 96 to 104 bpm. This dance is quite different from the other American Rhythm dances in that it not only requires cuban motion
Cuban motion
Cuban motion is characterized by a rhythmic swaying of the hips caused by the bending and straightening of the knees . It is a style of movement which should be present in Latin American dances, including bachata, mambo, salsa, rumba, merengue, samba and cha-cha-cha...

 but rises and falls
Rises and falls
Rises and falls is a category of the ballroom dance technique that refers to rises and falls of the body of a dancer achieved through actions of knees and feet ....

 such as found in waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

 and contra body movement
Contra body movement
Contra body movement is a term used in ballroom dances, such as Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep. It describes a specific coordination of the movement of a dancer's body when doing or preparing to do a step which involves rotation...

. Popular music for this dance style need not be latin in origin. Lists of music used in competitions for American Rhythm Bolero are available.

In art music

There are many so-called boleros in art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

 (i.e., classical music) that may not conform to either of the above types.
  • Ravel
    Maurice Ravel
    Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

    's Boléro
    Boléro is a one-movement orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel . Originally composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein, the piece, which premiered in 1928, is Ravel's most famous musical composition....

    is one of his most famous works, originally written as a ballet score for his patron Blanche Lapin or commissioned by Ida Rubinstein, but now usually played as a concert piece. It was originally called Fandango
    Fandango is a lively couple's dance, usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping . Fandango can both be sung and danced. Sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones"...

    but has rhythmic similarities with the Spanish dance form as described in this article, being in a constant 3/4 time with a prominent triplet on the second beat of every bar.
  • Chopin
    Frédéric Chopin
    Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

     wrote a bolero for solo piano
    Bolero (Chopin)
    The Bolero, Op. 19, was written by Frédéric Chopin in 1833 and published the following year. It is one of his lesser-known piano pieces, although it has been recorded numerous times....

     (Op. 19), but its rhythms are more that of the polonaise
    The polonaise is a slow dance of Polish origin, in 3/4 time. Its name is French for "Polish."The polonaise had a rhythm quite close to that of the Swedish semiquaver or sixteenth-note polska, and the two dances have a common origin....

    . He was a close friend of Pauline Viardot, the daughter of the famed Spanish tenor Manuel García
    Manuel García (tenor)
    Manuel del Pópulo Vicente Rodriguez García was a Spanish opera singer, composer, impresario, and singing teacher.-Biography:...

    , who had introduced the bolero to Paris
  • Debussy
    Claude Debussy
    Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

     wrote one in La Soirée dans Grenada
  • Bizet
    Georges Bizet
    Georges Bizet formally Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer, mainly of operas. In a career cut short by his early death, he achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, became one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory.During a...

     wrote a bolero in Carmen
    Carmen is a French opéra comique by Georges Bizet. The libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, first published in 1845, itself possibly influenced by the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin...

  • Saint-Saëns
    Camille Saint-Saëns
    Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony...

     wrote a bolero, El desdichado, for 2 voices and orchestra
  • Moszkowski
    Moritz Moszkowski
    Moritz Moszkowski was a German Jewish composer, pianist, and teacher of Polish descent. Ignacy Paderewski said, "After Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano"...

    's first set of Spanish Dances (Op. 12) ends with a bolero.
  • Lefébure-Wély
    Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely
    Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely was a French organist and composer.-Short Biography:Lefébure-Wely played a major role in the development of the French symphonic organ style and was a close friend of the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, inaugurating many new Cavaillé-Coll organs.He began to...

     wrote Boléro de Concert for organ
  • The bolero from Hervé
    Hervé (composer)
    Hervé , real name Louis Auguste Florimond Ronger, was a French singer, composer, librettist, conductor and scene painter, whom Ernest Newman, following Reynaldo Hahn, credited with inventing the genre of operetta in Paris.-Life:Hervé was born in Houdain near Arras...

    's Chilpéric (operetta)
    Chilpéric (operetta)
    Chilpéric is an opéra bouffe with libretto and music by Hervé, first produced in Paris on 24 October 1868 at the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatique in Paris...

    has been immortalized in Toulouse-Lautrec
    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
    Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern...

    's famous painting (above).
  • Friedrich Baumfelder
    Friedrich Baumfelder
    Friedrich August Wilhelm Baumfelder was a German composer of classical music, conductor, and pianist. He started in the Leipzig Conservatory, and went on to become a well-known composer of his time. His many works were mostly solo salon music, but also included symphonies, piano concertos, operas,...

     wrote a Premier Bolero, Op. 317, for piano.

In some art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

 boleros, the root lies not in the bolero but in the habanera
Habanera (music)
The habanera is a genre of Cuban popular dance music of the 19th century. It is a creolized form which developed from the contradanza. It has a characteristic "Habanera rhythm", and is performed with sung lyrics...

, a Cuban precursor of the tango
History of Tango
Tango, a distinctive dance and the corresponding musical style of tango music, began in the working-class port neighborhoods of Buenos Aires ; and years later in Montevideo, Uruguay; the area of the Rio de la Plata.-Etymology:...

, which was a favourite dance rhythm in the mid-19th century, and occurs often in French opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 and Spanish zarzuela
Zarzuela is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song, as well as dance...

 of the 19th and 20th centuries.

In popular music

The bolero form is used in the following instrumentals:
  • "Beck's Bolero
    Beck's Bolero
    "Beck's Bolero" is a short, rock-based instrumental piece heavily influenced by Maurice Ravel's Boléro, recorded in May 1966 by Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Keith Moon on drums...

    ," from the 1968 album Truth by Jeff Beck
    Jeff Beck
    Geoffrey Arnold "Jeff" Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds...

  • "Chunga's Revenge," from the 1970 album of the same name
    Chunga's Revenge
    Chunga's Revenge is an album by Frank Zappa, released on October 23, 1970. Zappa's first effort of the 1970s marks the first appearance of former Turtles members Flo & Eddie on a Zappa record, and signals the dawn of a controversial epoch in Zappa's history...

     by Frank Zappa
    Frank Zappa
    Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

  • "Bolero: The Peacock's Tale," part of the "Lizard" suite from the 1970 album Lizard
    Lizard (album)
    Lizard is the third album by the British band King Crimson, released in 1970. It was the second recorded by a transitional line-up of the group that never had the opportunity to perform live, following In the Wake of Poseidon...

    by King Crimson
    King Crimson
    King Crimson are a rock band founded in London, England in 1969. Often categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history...

  • "Abaddon's Bolero," from the 1972 album Trilogy
    Trilogy (Emerson, Lake & Palmer album)
    Trilogy is the third studio album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1972. The front cover depicts Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, while the interior of the original gatefold sleeve features a photomontage showing multiple images of the band in Epping Forest...

    by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are an English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and sold over forty million albums and headlined large stadium concerts. The band consists of Keith Emerson , Greg Lake and Carl Palmer...

  • "Tenth of Nisan," from the 1989 album One of Several Possible Musiks by Kerry Livgren
    Kerry Livgren
    Kerry Allen Livgren is an American musician and songwriter, best known as one of the founding members and primary songwriters for the 1970s progressive rock band, Kansas.-Biography:...

  • "Celtic Bolero," from the album Bagrock to the Massess by The Red Hot Chilli Pipers
    Red Hot Chilli Pipers
    The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are an ensemble consisting of pipers, guitarists, keyboards, and drummers formed in Scotland in 2004. They entered and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? They are named after American rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers....

  • "Bolero
    Bolero/Kiss the Baby Sky/Wasurenaide
    is Tohoshinki's 25th Japanese single, released on January 21, 2009. Bolero was the theme song for the Japanese movie, "". The movie is named after the ballerina lead named Subaru, which released on March 20, 2009. Tohoshinki made their debut screen on Subaru...

    ," the 25th Single (26th according to band member Xiah
    Kim Junsu , also known by his stage name Xiah , is a South Korean singer-songwriter, composer and occasional actor...

    ) Japanese album of TVXQ
    TVXQ, an acronym for Tong Vfang Xien Qi , is a South Korean pop group formed in 2003 under SM Entertainment. In South Korea they are known as Dong Bang Shin Ki , often abbreviated by international fans as DBSK; they were later introduced in Japan as Tohoshinki under the Avex sub-label Rhythm Zone...

  • "Bolero" from the album Razzle Dazzle by BUCK-TICK
    Buck-Tick is a rock band formed in 1983 in Fujioka, Japan. The band has consisted of Atsushi Sakurai , Hisashi Imai , Hidehiko Hoshino , Yutaka Higuchi and Toll Yagami for the majority of its existence...

External links

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