Huapango: The Sound of the Huasteca

By Valeria Bigurra Peñavera

Mexico is a country full of tradition and culture, among which we can find music, dance, and painting, and more picturesque customs.

Today we’ll let you in all the details, history and background about the Huapango, a musical-dance genre also known as "Son Huasteco", which originated within the Spanish folklore, derived from flamenco songs, fandangos and fandanguillos, peteneras, rhythms of boleros, tangos, and guajiras, among others lyrical and choreographic genres that came to Mexico in the 16th Century.

The word "Huapango" comes from the Nahuatl "Cuahuitlipanc" which is a word made up of three words: "cuahuitl": wood; "Ipan": on or above; and “Co”: an adverb of place; which implies that it’s a dance that is performed on top of a wooden stage or platform.

Huapango.JPG"ConcursoHuapango05" by Thelmadatter - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0via Wikimedia Commons



The origin of Huapango dates back to the Colonial era, when the main influence on music from the time, arises from several Spanish dances, which created a hybrid culture giving birth to the musical genre we know today as Son Huasteca; an entire movement that adopts its own style and is identified as a representative of the Huasteca Culture.

Many consider this genre as "the soul of the Huasteca". The Huasteca spans across the states of San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Hidalgo, and adjoining areas of Queretaro and Puebla, where ethnic groups live such as the Teneek or Huasteca, Pame, Nahuatl, Otomi, Tepehuas, and Totonac.

But for some people the Huasteca is divided into three: Hidalgo, Veracruz and San Luis Potosi, and is a lively and cheerful party music. The dance movements are distinguished by the tapping of various phases alternating with music, melodious singing and improvised verses.

The dance starts with slow tempos, and gradually its pace accelerates, the steps resonate on the stage until the music stops. The most common themes in the Huapango are happy love, frustrated, joy, playfulness, places and women.

One of the best known Huapangos is the "Huapango de Moncayo" written by Mexican composer Juan Pablo Moncayo, and it premiered in 1941at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Lit. Palace of Fine Arts) in Mexico City, is his most popular work, and even some have even called it the "second national anthem of Mexico". This piece consists of reinterpreting traditional rhythms of huapango mainly from Veracruz.

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