The sardana is a type of circle dance
Circle dance
"Circle dance" is the most common name for a style of traditional dance usually done in a circle without partners to musical accompaniment.-Description:...

 typical of Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, Spain
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...

. The dance was originally from the Empordà
Empordà is a historical region of Catalonia divided since 1936 into two comarques, Alt Empordà and Baix Empordà....

 region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia during the 20th century.

There are two main types, the original sardana curta (short sardana) style and the more modern sardana llarga (long sardana), which is more popular. Other more unusual sardanes are the sardana de lluïment and the sardana revessa.


The origin of the sardana is not clear. Some say that it was already popular in the 16th century.

What remains undisputed is that the sardana was a popular dance in the Empordà region by the end of the 19th century. Contributing to its mounting popularity by this time were the additions from similarly popular genres such as 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...

 and the popular Italian operas of the time, which increasingly made the sardana a fad dance.

As the rise of the sardana took place, in the context of the Renaixença
The Renaixença was an early 19th century late romantic revivalist movement in Catalan language and culture, akin to the Galician Rexurdimento or the Occitan Félibrige movements. The first stimuli of the movement date of the 1830s and 1840s, but the Renaixença stretches up into the 1880s, until it...

 or newborn Catalan nationalism, the origins of the dance were embellished in order to symbolize a distinct Catalan ethos as to serve Catalan nationalism. Modern choreography was established as late as the end of the 19th century and features slight differences from the original North-Catalonian
Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia is a term that is sometimes used, particularly in Catalan writings, to refer to the territory ceded to France by Spain through the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659...

 dance. Pep Ventura's band is credited for stabilizing different variants around a clear 6/8 rhythm and fixing the instrumental ensemble. Though some Iberian and Mediterranean circle dances follow similar patterns, instrumental music for the sardana has achieved a complexity of its own.

The sardana was forbidden during Franco's dictatorship as a catalan national symbol. In the year 2010 the Generalitat de Catalunya (catalonia government) added the sardana to the Catàleg del Patrimoni Festiu de Catalunya (catalonia's festivities heritage catalogue) and declared it a festivity of national interest.

Sardana band

Music for the sardana is played by a cobla
The cobla is a traditional music ensemble of Catalonia, Spain and in Northern Catalonia in France. It is generally used to accompany the Sardana, a traditional Catalan folk dance, danced in a circle.-Structure:...

, a band consisting of 10 wind instruments, double bass and a tamborí
The tambori is a percussion instrument of about 10 centimetres diameter, a small shallow cylinder formed of metal or wood with a drumhead of skin...

 (very small drum) played by 11 musicians. The cobla has five woodwind instruments: the flabiol
The flabiol , also known as flaviol, flubiol or fabirol, is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes. It is one of the 12 instruments of the cobla...

 which is a small fipple flute, and the tenora and tible (two of each) which belong to the oboe family. These and the tamborí are typical Catalan instruments. The brass instruments include: two trumpets, two fiscorn
Fiscorn is a Catalan instrument. While the term also designates the modern flugelhorn, the term today in Catalonia commonly refers to a conical bell forward rotary valved brass instrument in C played in the cobla to accompany the sardana .-Background:Originally played in polka bands throughout...

s (a type of saxhorn created by Adolph Sax during the 19th century), and a trombone (usually a valve trombone). The double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

 was traditionally a three-stringed one, but now the part is usually written for and played on the modern (four-stringed) instrument.

In Spanish and French Catalonia about one hundred and thirty cobles are active, most of which are amateur orchestras. Outside Catalonia there is one more cobla: Cobla La Principal d'Amsterdam.

Sardana dance

The music written for the dance is a sardana (pl. sardanes), and is usually in two sections (tirades), called curts and llargs, each of which may be repeated in various ways to form the pattern for the complete dance. The dance tempo is usually a steady metronome beat of about 112, in a 2/4 and/or 6/8 rhythm.
The introit is a few measures played freely by the flabiolist, often ending with an upward scale and by a tap of the tamborí signalling the other players and the dancers to begin the 'curts.

The first tirada played by the band is called the curts ("short steps"), of length between 20 and 50 measures, and has a two-measure pattern danced with the arms down: (point-step-step-cross) to the right followed by (point-step-step-cross) to the left. The first time it is played it is usually repeated.

The second tirada is called the llargs ("long steps"), 50 - 100 measures, has a four-measure pattern danced with the arms up to shoulder level, and is more lively than the curts. The first time it is played it is usually repeated.

The contrapunt, like the introit, is played by the flabiolist, and is a two-measure break before the last repeat of the llargs.

The cop final ("final beat") concludes the dance with a unified movement from all the dancers, still holding hands.

The modern sardana dance has the following pattern, which shows all the repeats of the curts and llargs:
1. introit
2. curts
3. curts
4. llargs
5. llargs
6. curts
7. llargs
8. contrapunt
9. llargs
10.cop final

The number of measures in the curts and llargs, called the tiratge or "run", is important to the players, and may be indicated before the start of the dance (e.g. a "run" shown as 25x79 indicates 25 measures of curts and 79 measures of llargs) in order to terminate the tirada correctly with the correct foot, though a method commonly used is to count the measures in the first tirada and not dance until the second has begun.

A dancer is called a sardanista (pl. sardanistes).

As a relatively slow, non-performance dance, the sardana does not require special fitness. The dance circle can be opened to a highly variable number of dancers. When danced in the streets and town squares, small circles of dancers can be seen to form and grow: often passers-by join in, leaving their bags in the center of the circle. The dancers are alternate men and women, and care must be taken by those joining not to split partners. These are open circles, called rotllanes obertes. Another kind of circle may be formed by members of organised sardana clubs called colles, and each colla may wear its own costume.

Many sardanes have sung versions, but mostly instrumental versions are used for dancing. Recordings of sardanes or sardanes played in concert usually contain the introit, two curts and two llargs. Sardanes may be recorded for dancing, having all the entrades in order. Often sardanes are written for special occasions or to commemorate people.

Composers of sardanes

  • Josep Maria "Pep" Ventura (1819-1875)
  • Enric Morera i Viura (1865-1942), composer of the most popular sardana La Santa Espina
  • Joan Lamote de Grignon i Bocquet
    Joan Lamote de Grignon
    Joan Lamote de Grignon i Bocquet , was a Catalan Spanish pianist, composer and orchestra director.Joan Lamote de Grignon was born and died in Barcelona, the son of parents of French descent Lluis Lamote de Grignon and Elena Bocquet. In 1911 he founded the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, of which he...

  • Josep Serra i Bonal (1874-1939)
  • Juli Garreta i Arboix (1875-1925)
  • Vicenç Bou i Geli (1885-1962)
  • Eduard Toldrà i Soler
    Eduard Toldrà
    Eduard Toldrà Soler was a Spanish Catalan conductor and composer.Toldrà played an important role in the Culture of Barcelona. In 1944 he founded the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra at the Palau de la Música Catalana, where his deputy in 1957 was his friend Ricardo Lamote de Grignon...

  • Robert Gerhard (1896-1970)
  • Ricard Lamote de Grignon i Ribas
    Ricard Lamote de Grignon
    Ricard Lamote de Grignon i Ribas , was a Catalan Spanish composer and orchestral conductor.Ricard Lamote de Grignon was born and died in Barcelona. He was the only son of the composer Joan Lamote de Grignon and Florentina Ribas...

     (1899-1962), son of Joan Lamote de Grignon
  • Francesc Mas i Ros (1901-1985)
  • Joaquim Serra i Corominas (1907-1957), son of Josep Serra
  • Josep Maria Mestre Miret (1918-2002), winner of two sardana awards
  • Joan-Luís Moraleda (1943- )
  • Joan Gibert Canyadell (1941- )

See also

  • Catalan shawms, discussing the tenora and tible.
  • Catalan symbols
    Catalan symbols
    The oldest Catalan symbol is the Coat of arms of Catalonia, one of the oldest coats of arms in Europe.. It dates back to the 9th century, according to a legend that says that the four red bars are the result of Charles the Bald, known also as Charles II, king of West Francia, smearing four...

  • Cobla
    The cobla is a traditional music ensemble of Catalonia, Spain and in Northern Catalonia in France. It is generally used to accompany the Sardana, a traditional Catalan folk dance, danced in a circle.-Structure:...


External links

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