8 February 2013

Paciencia - to walk or not to walk

(me, some years ago, dancing with friend to "Desde el alma" / Pugliese)

* pause / stretched tone in music *

Me to friend: "Stand still!!!"


Hopefully, I'm more subtle on the dance floor these days. But sometimes, I still want to say it: Stand still!!! This dance of ours isn't a questionnaire where you earn one point each time you hit a beat.

Actually, you may earn more points by passing over a few beats.

If you want to explore this, please join me on a guided YouTube tour with Noelia Hurtado and Carlitos Espinoza. They're strong musical dancers, and they almost seem to make standing still a trademark.

Oh, one thing before we start - when I say "stand still", I don't mean "freeze like a rabbit caught in the headlights"! You'll see in the videos what I mean.

So. Which musical elements could inspire us to stand still?

1 - The Singer

In my world, the tango vocalists are heroes - even if they weren't always meant to be (in the early tango years, the vocalists were just singing the last part of a tango, as estribillistas). These voices are so beautiful, and it would be nice to acknowledge their presence in the music!

In the first video, Noelia and Carlitos mark the point when the vocalist starts singing at 0:56.

Music: "Qué lento corre el tren" - Enrique Rodríguez canta Alberto Moreno 1943

2 - The Musical Theme and The Solo Instrument

There's a lot of musical food in instrumental tangos as well. In the next video, our dancers are showing us two things by stopping:

- something new and very pretty happens at 0:26 - the music gets softer and less staccato; a new musical theme is introduced.

- the start of the violin solo at 1:19.

Music: "Ya no cantas más" - Orquesta Francisco Canaro 1934

3 - The Musical Decoration

The next video is a milonga. Noelia and Carlitos seem to be marking the appearance of the singer at 1:46. But they're actually playing with something else: the long tones of the violin that go along with the singer.

Music: "Flor de Monserrat" / "Pobre negrito" (milonga) - Rodolfo Biagi canta Alberto Amor 1945

(music starts at 0:55)

4 - The Lyrics

Ok, this is a tough one for us non-Spanish speakers. But it might be achievable in some cases, even for us!

The tango in the last video is called "Paciencia", and we can hear this word very clearly in the song. The melody is even dragged out, with long tones, to emphasise the word more. It's double clever, really, since it actually means "patience". You can "see" the word at 2:08 and 2:23.

Music: "Paciencia" - Juan D'Arienzo canta Enrique Carbel 1937

(music starts at 0:40)

The music will always make suggestions for us to interpret. The only thing we need to do is listen.

One thing though: Even if we love the music, the flow we create together with our friends on the dance floor is more important. So we need to choose our moments of standing still with care.