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Proyecto Cervantes

Ignacio Cervantes Kavanagh (1847 - 1905) was a Cuban pianist and composer, best known today for his collection of 41 short piano pieces which earned him the somewhat euro-centric moniker of

'The Cuban Chopin'. 

The pieces reflect a typical dance form that emerged from nineteenth-century Cuba called the Danza or Contradanza. As this form travelled beyond its city of origin, it became known as 'La Habanera' (The Havana).

Typical of the Habanera / Contradanza are two interrelated rhythmic patterns, the tresillo (3+3+2) and the habanera (♪♩♪♩♩), which Jelly Roll Morton referred to as 'The Spanish Tinge' when applying its influence to his music in New Orleans in the early days of jazz. These rhythms are a constant presence in Cervantes' music.

I learned about these pieces at a time when I did not have regular access to a piano, so I made a project for myself to arrange the pieces for guitar instead. You can find the scores here (click the song titles to download), and video recordings of me playing them. I will gradually upload more as I get around to them. If you find yourself inspired to make your own recordings, I'd love to hear them!



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