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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Danzón-Cumbia: Audible Legacies of Cuban Music in Panamanian Popular Music

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By the early 20th century, Cuban danzones took firm hold in the rural communities that dotted Panama’s western littoral. In this context, sectional danzón compositional forms were combined with the open-ended cumbia song-forms to produce what rural Panamanians called “danzón-cumbias”—exceedingly popular musical hybrids that by the mid-20th century and on through the present time had come to dominate the sound of Panamanian cumbia. In this work, I provide an analysis of the key structural features of the danzón as it came to be fully integrated into Panamaian cumbia song-forms. I also discuss the impact that danzón had on contemporary Panamanian dance music.

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