Although it is true that the Spanish and African roots and contributions were the main background elements of our music, it is also true that some foreign influences, alien to these roots, exerted a considerable power capable of transforming or modifying, in certain cases, the interaction of those first elements leaving an evident imprint of their presence.
This is what happened after the immigration flow of French and Haitians with French habits, at a time in which certain musical elements of Cuban character were being defined. That is how Cuba received the gavota, the passepied and the French contredanse. The French contredanse was rapidly accepted, then passed through an adaptation process and finally became a style of purely Cuban characters.
During the 19 th Century, the contredanse developed its own defined profile and, besides, was included in the musical production of almost every Cuban composer of the time. Apart from being a court dance, it also became a musical genre with two clear-cut sections: the first one a calmly, more lyrical section and the second one a more active section with marked Creole typical rhythms.
With Manuel Saumell (1817-1870), the contredanse lost its purpose of propitiating the dance and became a concert work. Thus, it was the first Creole genre within the concert music. Therefore, Saumell initiated a nationalistic movement within this music field, not because he created a genre per se, but because he transferred its national elements to the concert hall.
Generally speaking, the Cuban contredanse influenced to a great extent in the further projection of the Cuban music and has remained as the matrix for many genuinely national projections.