|Frederick The Monk
|303829. Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:44 am
|Question: Can the Pope Fandango?
Answer: Well he can if he wants.
The Catholic Church in the 17th and 18th centuries regularly condemned the dance as being lewd and morally dangerous. It was also thought to be potentially subversive. In Spain there was an economic collapse from 1709-1711 and grumblings of discontent grew stronger. The government feared large gatherings of people and in 1717 an intense campaign began against regional folk cultures. A ban was put on the fandango, which was condemned as offensive to the nobility. The playing of castanets in public was also forbidden because they suggested disorder and rebellion. In 1776 a crown minister described the dance as reprehensible and in the same year the viceroy of Rio de la Plata banned the dance in the territory that is now Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.
Numerous travel accounts of the 18th and 19th centuries were highly critical of the overtly sensual fandango wherever it was performed (see Etzion). A threatened ban by the church resulted in a trial during which the pope and cardinals witnessed a performance of a fandango and saw no reason to condemn it. This event, reported in a letter by P.A. Beaumarchais dated 24 December 1764, provided the subject for late 18th-century Spanish comedias, and much later for Saint-Léon's ballet Le procès du fandango (1858).
The Spanish fandango, like the bolero and cachuca, enjoyed great popularity in Parisian theatres in the 19th century; Arthur Sullivan wrote a cachuca for the chorus ‘Dance a cachucha, fandango, bolero’ in the second act of The Gondoliers (1889).
The Fandango is a couple-dance in triple metre and lively tempo, accompanied by a guitar and castanets or palmas (hand-clapping). It is considered the most widespread of Spain's traditional dances. The sung fandango is in two parts: an introduction (or variaciónes), which is instrumental, and a cante, consisting of four or five octosyllabic verses (coplas) or musical phrases (tercios), sometimes six if a verse (usually the first) is repeated. Its metre, associated with that of the bolero and seguidilla, was originally notated in 6/8, but later in 3/8 or 3/4.
Its origins are uncertain, but its etymology may lie in the Portuguese fado (from Lat. fatum: ‘destiny’); in early 16th-century Portugal the term esfandangado designated a popular song.
The earliest fandango melody appears in the anonymous Libro de diferentes cifras de guitarra (E-Mn M.811; 1705), while its earliest (albeit brief) description is found in a letter dated 17 March 1712 by Martín Martí, a Spanish priest. By the late 18th century it had become fashionable among the aristocracy as well as an important feature in tonadillas, zarzuelas, ballets and other stage works.
Various suggestions have been made about the fandango's origins, including that it is related to the soléa, jabera and petenera (Calderón); that the Andalusian malagueña, granadina, murciana and rondeña are in fact fandangos accompanied by guitar and castanets (Ocón); that its forebears include the canario and gitano (Foz); that it is derived from the jota aragonesa (Larramendi, Ribera), although Ribera also proposed an earlier Arabic origin; and that the Arabic fandûra (guitar) may be a possible etymological source (Pottier). Yet the two prevailing theories point to either a West Indian or Latin American origin (Diccionario de Autoridades), although Puyana strongly suggests that the fandango indiano came from Mexico; (see also Osorio); or a North African origin (Moreau de Saint-Méry).