The Pasadoble – Music of the Bullring

No one can miss the stirring music of the bullring, known as the Pasodoble or Two-Step in reference to both the fact it may be danced to in ballroom fashion using a two step approach and because most songs play through twice with a reprise.  If you hear this form of music, you may go online or into any cd store around the world and find several examples if you are lucky. Any Madrid shop with a music department should also have cds of the same.

Madrid’s bullring band is one of   the most famous in Spain, followed by the band in Sevilla. All bullrings, however, have some form of music played during the course of the action, be it ranging from a gigantic orchestra to a cassette tape played over a public address system in the smallest of pueblos.

Music is usually heard at important moments in the bullfight, such   as when a matador is performing well or after the death of each bull. Stirring pasodobles also accompany the parade, where the bullfighters first enter the ring.     

Many of the most popular pasodobles have been composed in homage of matadores, past or present, with personal greatness not being   as big an issue as the favoritism of the composer. The late Manolete and the current figura, Juli, have had several pasodobles created in their honor.

Other pasodobles in tribute to toreros include Carlos Arruza, Morante, Armillita, Gitanillo De Triana, Juan Belmonte,  Luis Miguel Dominguin, Manolo Bienvenida, Manolo Martinez, Eloy Cavazos, Manuel Dos Santos, El Cordobes, Jaime Rangel, Agustin Dauder, Manuel Granero, Jose Tomas,  Lorenzo Garza, El Viti, Paco Camino, Pepe Hillo, Espartero, Espartaco, Frascuelo, Yiyo, Nicanor Villalta, Julian Maestro, Marcial Lalanda, Cristina  Sanchez and Jesus  Solórzano being some of them.

Other pasodobles pay tribute to major festivals or cities such as Valencia, Granada, Zaragoza, Toledo, Feria De Granada, San Fermin, Sevilla and Cordoba.

Yet other pasodobles have titles related  to a variety of subjects. En El Mundo, El Gato Montez, El Beso, Manton De Manila, Espana Cani, El Soldado, Farolero, Trinia, Morena De Mi Coplas, Gitana, Mi  Escapulario, Mi Jaca, Espana Cani, Novillero, Picador and La Ultima Estocada,   just to name a few.

Most pasodobles have lyrics to them, but these are never heard in the bullring, where the music   is invariably instrumental. To hear the words, one must normally go to a concert or buy a cd.

Some of the most popular singers of pasodobles over the years have included Manolo Escobar, Pedro Infante, Javier Solis, Lola Beltran and Isabel Pantoja.

One of the most famous of pasodobles would be the Toreador song from the opera, Carmen. The title created a whole new word, for in Spanish Toreador did not exist. This was the result of the French composer, Bizet, mispronouncing torero, but the song title became so popular many on the know just gave up and stopped pointing out Toreador was not  a real word.

The opera, for anyone unfamiliar with it, deals with a woman working in a cigarette factory who falls in love with a soldier and a matador de toros. This love triangle of course does not  end well.

Toreador is heard when the matador figure in the play is walking toward the plaza de toros to face the bulls.

In the Spanish bullrings, Toreador has been utilized as a parade theme, This usually brings a roar of approval from the tourists who recognize the melody,  but cannot identify the song and from the experts who know the inside story behind it being based upon a technical translation error.

Stirring, passionate and pulsating, a bullfight without the pasodoble would be like Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho without the screeching soundtrack notes or the climatic gunfights in Leone westerns without the Ennio Morricone scores. .