Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Havana Fever

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Havana Fever

by Leonardo Padura

Havana Fever
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    May 2009, 285 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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The Cuban Bolero
The Cuban bolero is the first internationally recognized music form to originate in Cuba. Closely related to trovador songs and habaneras, boleros are songs of romance, featuring themes of love and heartbreak. The music is most often slow, sensual and deeply romantic.

The Cuban bolero is often confused with the Spanish bolero. The two forms arose independently, apparently neither influencing the other. Whereas the Spanish bolero is always in 3/4 time, the Cuban version is in 2/4 or 4/4. In addition, the Cuban version is heavily influenced by African-based rhythms. The two styles are danced differently, as well; the Spanish bolero has couples dancing apart, while the Cuban bolero is danced by couples who are touching.

It is believed that the first Cuban bolero was composed by Jose Pepe Sanchez, a natural musician with no training or ability to read music. Much of what he wrote is lost, but some of his compositions were fortunately recorded ...

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