By Margaret Drabble
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Extra resources for The Millstone
It is no longer art music only, nor the music of nostalgia for the patriarchal order that many Puerto Ricans still may want to evoke. Amaury Veray, for instance, points to the danza’s social value in his arguments against its “death” or disappearance. Yet he recognizes that the danza’s prestige and life have been limited to its performance and interpretation as art music. It is no longer danceable, thus its value as an expression of social cohesion and collectivity has been diminished, if not totally annulled.
The bombardino is a wind instrument that produces a sound similar to that of the clarinet but resembles a type of French horn. It became one of the principal instruments in Puerto Rican danza orchestras; in fact, black musicians like Cocolía built their fame on their bombardino interpretive skills. 17 The invasion of non-European instruments into the space of the upperclass landowning families also resulted in rhythmic innovations and transformations. The use of the dot and the sixteenth note [el puntillo y la semicorchea] was, according to Amaury Veray, the beginning of what later was to be called the tresillo elástico (flexible triplet)—a term coined by Don Fernando Callejo; its incorporation into the danza has been attributed to A White Lady Called the Danza / 13 Manuel G.
21 Brau also mentions the work of Don Félix Astol, the Cataluñaborn composer of “La Borinqueña,” a danza that remains Puerto Rico’s national hymn. Astol also was seduced by the eroticized rhythms of the danza. While Brau boasts about the international influence and the impact t h e d a n z a a n d t h e p l e n a / 14 of Puerto Rican danza rhythms on other musical forms, a vision parallel to what we call “world beat” music today, he fails to recognize that the power of the danza to attract the attention of foreign musicians and composers had actually rested also on the eroticization of the habanera rhythm, a tropicalized otherness that Gottschalk himself desired, capitalized on, and integrated into his own compositions.