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Classical Musical Terms for Dance-Rhythms

  1. Bolero

    From the Spanish National Dance: a pantomime honoring Cupid accented with castanets. Maurice Ravel took it further with Bolero made famous in the movie, "Ten."

  2. Bourrée

    Spanish or French term for the perods that begin on the fourth and terminate on the third beat.

  3. Chaconne

    Spanish or Italian term for the basso ostinate emphasized on the second beat.

  4. Cracovienne

    Polish derived word for syncopationous rhythms punctuated with many surprise accents.

  5. [Czardas

    From the Hungarian National Dance, this rhythm commences with a drawn out mournful Lassan growing into a complicated and frenetic frisky Friska.

  6. Fandango

    This Spanish dance accompanied by guitar and castanets was meant to played between lyrics. The 'light' version made famous in Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

  7. Gavotte

    An Old French method whereby periods start on the third and finish on the second beat; together with a Musette. (Please, not to be confused with garotte.)

  8. Habanera

    This, which is the Cuban National Dance, is highlighted with strong changing, syncopated rhythm and accompaniment.

  9. Laendler

    A Tyrolese waltz. (For latter term see below)

  10. Mazurka

    Changing accents with a noble stance distinguish this Polish National Dance.

  11. Minuet

    A white powdered wig and a harpsichord might not hurt doing the royal touch required in this Old French where the third beat is subtly accented.

  12. Musette

    As mentioned before as incorporated with the Gavotte, it's drone bass element refers back to its bag-pipe ancestery.

  13. Polka

    Here is the surprise: this originated in Bohemia, not Poland, but it is a quick circular choreography.

  14. Polonaise

    Now, we have the Polish dance, which originally was meant to be quite dignified whose rhythm starts with a accente forte, and ends on the last beat.

  15. Saltarello

    After all the jumping around required in this Spanish/Italian styled rhythm, one will see the salt a' really.

  16. Sarabande

    This is a methodically mellow and serious Moorish/Spanish dance.

  17. Tarantella

    Just like the name sounds, this is a tumultuous Old Italian dance inspired by the reaction to have been bitten by a Tarantula spider, from the Tarentine area.

  18. Waltz
    The beginnings are mysterious of this most known three-quarter-time rhythm, that can have changing tempos, has three types:

    1. Quick Waltz (Vienna)
    2. Slow Waltz (German)
    3. Two Step


Source:
The Music Lovers' Encyclopedia, Rupert Hughes, Gramercy: NY, 1903.

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