Fandango is a lively couples dance from Spain, usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping ("palmas" in Spanish). Fandango can both be sung and danced. 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" from 1705, and the earliest description of the dance itself is found in a 1712 letter by Martín Martí, a Spanish priest. The fandango's first sighting in a theatrical work was in Francisco de Leefadeal's entremés "El novio de la aldeana" staged in Seville, ca. 1720. By the late 18th century it had become fashionable among the aristocracy and was often included in tonadillas, zarzuelas, ballets and 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, jabera and petenera; to the Andalusian malagueña, granadina, murciana and rondeña; to the canario and gitano; to the jota aragonesa.
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" (K 492, 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; and the finale of Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol. Luis de Freitas Branco's third movement of his "Suite Alentejana no. 1" is inspired on the popular fandango of the regions of Alentejo and Ribatejo.
The current 3
4 pattern of the fandango, its distinctive progression (i–iv–V) lyrics with octosyllabic verses and the use of castanets and guitars 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 Asturias Principality of Asturias, the Basque Country and Castile and LeónCastile have preserved a more relaxed performance.
Although Spanish in origin, 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."
Fandango in Veracruz
In Veracruz, Mexico, a fandango is a party where people get together to dance, to play and to sing in a community setting. As local musicians perform the Son Jarocho music, people dance "zapateado" atop a large wooden platform known as a Tarima.