Showing posts with label Tango. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tango. Show all posts

Friday, November 30, 2018


Ástor Piazzolla with his bandoneón in 1971.
Ástor Piazzolla with his bandoneón in 1971. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion was composed in the year 1982 as a chamber ensemble. This beautiful music piece was one of Astor Piazzolla's most famous Tangos, and it became most popular when it was released on the soundtrack of Marco Bellocchio's film Henry IV, the Mad King. Oblivion has been recorded in many different versions, including being rewritten for the klezmer clarinet, saxophone quartet, oboe, and orchestra.

It starts out with violins and cellos and is a beautiful, haunting piece that speaks of tragedy and love. It's one of the most famous Tango work ever done by Astor Piazzolla and remains one of his best. The string section enters instantly, with a subtle, arpeggiated accompaniment, and the melody is extremely melancholic and almost depressing. With long notes and beautiful, alternating notes and elegant figures, Oblivion is a song that spins a sad tale of love and woe. It is a beautiful piece, very elegant in structure, and sounds like a sad song.

Halfway through the song, the melodies change a little, with a contrasting theme, not as intense as the previous notes and melodies though. Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion is one of the tangos that he wrote with almost no jazz or rock influence, like most other of his pieces from that time. It is a piece that is very true to the original Tango, and Piazzolla keeps it at its roots. It has a bit of harmonic sophistication and elegance, and it sings a beautiful song of Tango and emotion.

Friday, April 6, 2018


Tango-ballroom-competition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Staccato steps and sharp head turns to set the Tango apart from the Fox Trot and the Waltz.  This dance is extremely sensual and provocative.  In general, the hold used by the dancers keeps the couple much closer together than in other dances.

At one time it was said that the Tango was a dance performed between a prostitute and her pimp in the brothels outside Buenos Aires Argentina.   Another explanation for the stance and movements of the dance is that the Argentinean cowboys (Gauchos) would show up at night clubs without the benefit of a shower so when a lady agreed to a dance she would dance in the crook of his right arm keeping her head back.  The knees bent stance of the dance was basically the way the Gauchos naturally walked as a result of wearing chaps that get soaked from the sweat of their horses then harden as they dry.

The Milonga is the forerunner of the Tango.  It also used the same sharp head and shoulder moves and the characteristic sudden stops of the Tango.  The Milonga, early in the 20th century was entertainment meant for the high society of Brazil and it was during that time that the name was changed to the Tango
There is the American Ballroom Tango, the International Ballroom Tango and the Argentinean Tango. 

Unlike the American and International style of Tango, the Argentinean Tango is danced in a close embrace utilizing intricate footwork and leg movements.  Because the Argentinean Tango doesn't require a great deal of movement it is well suited for nightclubs and other places with small dance floors.  Unlike the Waltz, the sway and the rise and fall motions are to be avoided at all costs.  The desired movements are very sharp and well defined.

The music for this ballroom dance is usually provided by an orchestra that has a piano, guitar, violin, flute and a bandoneon (an offshoot of a koncertina, which looks a little like a small accordion).  The bandoneon is essential to Tango music.

The Tango has always been a very popular dance with Hollywood moviemakers.  For example, Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Tia Carrere danced a sexy, sultry Tango in  True Lies , while Al Pacino showed Gabrielle Anwar the secrets of the Tango in  Scent of a Woman and in a much earlier movie Rudolph Valentino Tangoed in  The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

What the judges will be looking for are lots of clipped movements, sharp head turns and stops, staccato actions, knees slightly bent at all times.  They also expect the dancers to project the great emotion the dance needs to convey.

Although the Tango's moves are staccato you don't want your dance to look mechanical, but rather give the impression of feline grace.  The woman should project a haughty attitude while at the same time seeming to meld into the man's body.  Your Tango should be firm and convincing, with catlike flexibility, the moves crisp with clear switches to complete stillness.

Monday, January 29, 2018

KLEZMER and Tango - World Music Or Ethnic Music?

Klezmer band playing on Decatur Street, French...
Klezmer band playing on Decatur Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tango and Klezmer musical influence worldwide has been and continues to be actually notorious. Both music genres have had a great impact all around the world. Both music types are still played and heard in the most important concert halls around the globe. Both have become part of the international world music scenes, and have thousands of followers. It is true that on the one hand, we are dealing with attempts to counter the cultural globalization by preserving the feelings of an authentic and clear identity.

However, on the other hand, the world has long become the musician's source for all sorts of musical set pieces, enabling them to experiment with and develop their music in a way that would never have been possible in a culturally more rigid and confined environment.

There are Tango, Klezmer groups, bands, singers on professional, semi-professional, and amateur levels all around the world. In addition, there are also millions of people striving to learn how to dance the tango or go deeper into klezmer music. What is more, many people can even travel long distances to achieve those goals. Therefore, this fact demonstrates the great relevance, as well as the important place both genres occupy in the musical world nowadays.

Tango and Klezmer cannot be classified as ethnic music. Both genres are spread all around the world and are played by musicians of all origins. Although klezmer is considered as a Jewish music it is played by numerous non-Jewish players.

Ethnic music connects a community to a selected component of its past, and obviously, there is no Tango community nor a homogenous Jewish entity.

To conclude, both tango and klezmer genres have made great contributions to the music world. Both with their similar as well as distinct characteristics have been internationally influential, and have also found the way to success through the years. Their music lives on and it will certainly continue like this for years to come.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The History of the TANGO

Photo  by aka_serge 
The Tango has always been one of my favorite ballroom dances, as it is so different from all the others, and a real challenge to master both musically and technically. Here is a brief history of the Tango over the last hundred odd years.

The story of Tango is said to have started with the gauchos of Argentina. These were men that were hardened from working with horses and also from the sweat on the horse's body. This is also why gauchos walked with flexed knees. These men would go into the crowded nightclubs and ask the local girls to dance. Since the gaucho hadn't showered, the lady would dance in the crook of the man's right arm, holding her head back. Her right hand was held low on his left hip, close to his pocket, looking for a payment for dancing with him. The man danced in a curving fashion because the floor was small with round tables, so he had to dance in between and around them.

The word "tango" is said to come from one of two sources. One of the more popular rumors in recent years has been that it came from the Niger-Congo languages of Africa. Another story is that the word "tango", which was already in common use in Andalusia to describe a style of music, lent its name to a vastly different style of music in Argentina and Uruguay.

Strangely enough, it is said that the Tango's History actually evolves from African slavery and musically used African Rhythms in the beginning. It is an intense and erotic dance and many believe that it started off in the Ghettos of Buenos Aires as far back as the 1890's with the lower classes. Back then it was known as "Baile con corte" which means "Dance with a rest." After that, it was mainly danced in Argentina, Haiti, and Cuba. It was also danced in Spain in a different form.

Between 1907 and 1912 the Tango was first introduced in France and the dance took Paris by storm. By the year 1912, it had crossed over the Channel to England.

By 1913, New York was hit by the Tango craze. What was previously a dance for the lower and middle classes was fast becoming a favorite with the upper classes.

Between 1903 and 1910 over a third of the gramophone records released were Tango music and the sheet music was sold in vast quantities all over Europe.

During the great depression of 1929, the Tango's popularity declined but it became fashionable again during the presidency of Juan Peron.

During the 1950's the Tango started it's decline again due to the economic recession and the banning of public gatherings.

During the 1980's it was revived again with the Broadway Musicals Forever Tango, Tango Passion, and Tango Argentino.

There are now three types of Tango, namely Argentine, International Style and American, and I don't think that the Tango will ever totally lose its appeal.