I am currently building my own website called TANGO NOTES, a resource about tango music. Feel free to visit here:

Selected Tango Immigrant posts will continue to be up for the foreseeable future.

26 February 2014

Tango music: syncopation for beginners

Clip from El chamuyo - Orquesta Típica Victor 1930

Whole tango on YouTube here

Clip from El once - Carlos Di Sarli 1954

Whole tango on YouTube here

(Update: music players don't work on your device or your browser? Try viewing the post in Safari, or reloading the page if you're using Chrome - or click to listen to clips here: El chamuyo - El once)

I hope this will help you understanding syncopation a little better! If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask.

10 February 2014

How music looks: Ojos negros que fascinan

A while ago, I made a post about "Yo no sé por que te quiero", to illustrate how a tango can be made up from a couple of very simple rhythm patterns. "Ojos negros que fascinan", recorded 1935 by Francisco Canaro with Roberto Maida, is another nice example of this.

The rhythm is very simple, especially when introduced in the instrumental A and B section - Maida tweaks the rhythm a bit, as tango vocalists do. There are two rhythm patterns that are used extensively throughout this tango: one very short for the A section, and one longer for the B section. This time, I've added colours - one for each tone in the chromatic scale - so it should be possible to play the piece. If you tried, let me know if it worked!

As usual, this is not meant as a detailed analysis. I still find that a simplified version can be very useful, also for hearing elements that are not included in the illustration. An example from the first A section: the main theme is introduced. We can see it in the illustration. But there's another important thing going on in this part… Do you hear it?

Link to the music: Ojos negros que fascinan - Francisco Canaro canta Roberto Maida 1935

The use of recurring rhythm patterns is a common trick in composing, not only in tango. Fun fact: The A section of "Ojos negros que fascinan" is actually a Russian melody, arranged as a tango by Manuel Salina (Manuel G. Salinger) with lyrics by Florián Rey (Antonio Martínez del Castillo). It seems likely that Salina composed the B section.

There are many versions of the Russian song on YouTube - here's one recorded in Paris in 1927:
Feodor Chaliapin with the Aristoff Choir and Balalaika Orchestra.