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Bolero, a form of Latin American music that originated in southern Spain. It was rhythmically modified in late colonial Cuba and made more lyrical in the Yucatán. During the 1930s the powerful radio station XEW helped to popularize the form in Mexico City, where by 1940 it had acquired a sophisticated smoothness that suited it to the dance floor. With the ascendance of ranchera music and rock and roll in the 1950s, the bolero lost its dominance. Still, the dance remains popular and Mexican pop stars often play bolero tunes.

Many regional Mexican songs were recast in the slightly syncopated 2/4 bolero rhythm (eight beats, with the third left out). Well-known guitar trios such as the widely traveled Los Panchos, Las Calaveras, and Los Diamantes helped make the romantic bolero international and gave it a similar sound in Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Argentina. Some of the most famous boleros are "Solamente una vez" by Agustín Lara, "Muñequita linda" (also called "Te quiero dijiste") by María Grever, "Perfidia" by Alberto Domínguez, and the best-selling recording of all, "Bésame mucho" by Consuelo Velásquez.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


See New Grove Dictionary of Music (1980).

Claes Af Geijerstam, Popular Music in Mexico (1976).

Iris Zavala, El bolero (1991).

Additional Bibliography

García Medina, Antonio. Brevísima historia de la canción y el bolero en México. Guadalajara: A. García Medina, 2000.

Pedelty, Mark. Musical Ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.

Peza, Carmen de la. El bolero y la educación sentimental en México. México, D.F.: Universidad Autónoma Metro-politana, Unidad Xochimilco: Muguel Ángel Porrúa, 2001.

                                        Guy Bensusan

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bo·le·ro / bəˈle(ə)rō/ • n. (pl. -ros) 1. a Spanish dance in simple triple time. ∎  a piece of music for this dance. 2. a woman's short open jacket.

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Boléro. Ballet in 1 act by Ravel, choreog. Nijinskaya, comp. for Ida Rubinstein in 1928 (prod. Paris Opéra, Nov. 1928). Mus. consists of repetition of theme, in C major almost throughout, in unvarying rhythm and gradual crescendo. Its immense popularity made Ravel world-famous. Later also choreog. Lifar (1941), Béjart (1961), and others.

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bolero. Sp. dance in simple triple time, almost same as cachucha but danced by a couple or several couples. Acc. is of (or incl.) the dancers’ own vv. and castanets, sometimes with added guitars and tambourines. Introduced c.1780.

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bolero lively dance XVIII; short jacket XIX. — Sp., presumably f. bola ball.

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