[Tango-L] What defines tango music for dancing - vals and milonga

Oleh Kovalchuke tangospring at gmail.com
Mon Feb 4 11:31:17 EST 2008

Tango vals and milonga share the same five qualities. In vals they are
overlaid on top of vals signature "1-2-3-pause" phrase. Some turns fit
this signature perfectly, hence turns are often used in vals. However
this rule is not set in stone. Here is an example of perfectly musical
vals dancing by Alberto Dassieu with few turns:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orgGazxNz64 .

Milonga has more incesant drive than tango (quadruple-time and silent
beats are de-emphasized). That's why "electrons-plus-drum" adaptations
of milongas (Milonga Sentimental, Baile a Beneficio) by Otros Aires
manage to stay fairly close to the original feel. Classic tangos by
the same band (La Yumba, Niebla del Riachuelo), of course, are
necessarily bastartized.

By the way, if you you are interested in the electronic tango, Otros
Aires is a good choice - by far better than the mechanical
compositions of Gotan Project or the plain dumb arrangements by
Bajofondo Club.

To me, as a dancer, good tango arrangement has to include these five elements:

1. A variety of rhythm: single-, double- and occasional quadruple-time
beats, as well as silent, implied beats.
2. Smooth, flowing melody.
3. Surges in the melody (that "swinging" feel).
4. A variety in the arrangement, where different instruments or voice
interweave and come to forefront of the orchestra.
5. Bandoneon.

As a dancer I hear and express the qualities 1-4 to in the dance.
Bandoneon, with its ability to produce in a skillful hands either
bellowing, or sharp accented, or quick keyboard sound (all three can
be overlaid), is particularly suited to express these qualities.

Oleh Kovalchuke
Argentine Tango: Connection, Balance, Rhythm

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