Fandango is a lively folk and Andalusian (flamenco) couple-dance usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping (Palmas in Spanish and Portuguese). Fandango can both be sung and danced. The sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones". Sung fandango usually follows the structure of "cante" that consist of four or five octosyllabic verses (coplas) or musical phrases (tercios). Occasionally the first copla is repeated.
The earliest fandango melody is found in the anonymous "Libro de diferentes cifras de guitarra" in 1705), and the earliest description of the dance itself is found in a 1712 letter by Martín Martí, a Spanish priest. Fandango's first sighting in a theatrical work was in operas, not only in Spain, but also elsewhere in Europe.
Widely varying claims have been made about the origin of fandango: its relation to the soleá, . There have been suggestions of a Moorish origin. Currently the prevailing theories point to either a West Indian or Latin American origin.
Fandango in classical music
The form of Fandango have been used by many European composers, and often included in stage and instrumental works. Notable examples include J.P.Rameau's "Les trois mains" ( in "Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin", ca.1729–30); Domenico Scarlatti's "Fandango portugués" (k492, 1756) and "Fandango del SigR Escarlate". Fandango forms #19 in the part 2 of Gluck's ballet Don Juan (1761); it appears also in the third-act finale of Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro (1786); in the finale of Luigi Boccherini's String Quartet op.40 no.2 (1798); Antonio Soler's Fandango for harpsichord.
The current 3/4 pattern of the fandango, its distinctive descending chord progression (A minor/G major/F major/E major), lyrics with octosyllabic verses and the use of castanets are well-documented from the 18th century.
The fandangos grandes (big fandangos) are normally danced by couples, which start out slowly with gradually increasing tempo. Many varieties are derived from this one.
The fandanguillos (little fandangos) are livelier, more festive derivations of fandangos. Some regions of Spain have developed their own style of fandangos, such as Huelva (fandangos de Huelva) and Málaga (fandangos de Málaga, or Verdiales). Northern areas such as the Principality of Asturias, the Basque Country and Castile have preserved a more relaxed performance.
In the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, the fandango lives on in the dance called Pandango sa Ilaw (Fandango with Lights) where instead of castanets, the dancers carry glasses with candles inside and swirl it over their heads or sometimes while kept inside handkerchiefs.
Fandango is one of the main folk dances in Portugal. The choreography is quite simple: on its more frequent setting two male dancers face each other, dancing and tap-dancing one at each time, showing which one has the most lightness and repertoire of feet changes in the tap-dancing. The dancers can be boy and girl, boy and boy (most frequent) or rarely two girls. While one of the dancers dances, the other just "goes along". Afterwards, they "both drag their feet for a while" until the other one takes his turn. They stay there, disputing, seeing which one of them makes the feet transitions more eye-catching.
As a result of the extravagant features of the dance, the word fandango is used as a synonym for 'a quarrel', 'a big fuss' or 'a brilliant exploit.'
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