Tag Archives: canjengue

A new respect

I have developed a new respect for the DJ’s of Buenos Aires. Every day and every night these (mostly) men  create tandas straight from their vast knowledge and entirely off the cuff.

It looks easy, all you have to do is put three or four tunes together from the same artist and from the same era with similar rhythms. Of course anyone could do it, and many over here think they can.

I decided to create a Milonga to celebrate our Coral wedding, a simple matter of putting together about twenty tandas with a Cortina between.

My first problem was with a milonga tanda, I just could not find enough tunes by D’Sarli, I had to add one otherby Firpo to my list. Several times I could not find what I wanted but after a lot of work in the end Ithink I managed it. It all looked grand until I played the whole lot together, then I realised that there were more than one or two errors.  My Fresado tanda consisted of three canjengues and one melodic tune; I had a similar problem with Troilo.

I have rewritten my list over and over, maybe I am striving for a perfection that cannot be achieved, but I know that every day in Buenos Aires this is done successfully.

This work has taken me several weeks, I think I am finally there, but I would not want to do it again in a hurry, never mind putting it together on the night, with an audience in waiting.

To some here I am the expert on the music, because I am able to name some tunes and, mostly, knowing exactly when they are to end. This though is just an illusion I create, I have my favourites, tunes that I know well. These I can name, but if you could imagine the vast catalogue that exists outside my knowledge, then try to imagine knowing all this music, when it was produced, the cadence and the rhythm, you would get some idea of the skills possessed by the Buenos Aires DJ’s.

These men were born into a world of tango, from their mothers knee they heard the tunes of  D’Arienzo Tantori and Biagi, we can try to ape them, we can work on preparation, but in the end they are almost as great as the artists themselves and they have a genius that we can only wonder at.

Footnote Jantango has just published an article about Dani a Buenos Aires DJ. Read it and enjoy:http://jantango.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/best-dj-in-buenos-aires/

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Nuevo anyone?

We arrived home at half past one in the morning, our trips to Shrewsbury finish later every time.

We had sat in The Coracle until about twenty to twelve, and talked about all the usual rubbish, who was doing what and with whom. There was nothing exciting that I could report here. Strangely it was after Dave left that things became more interesting, he’ll be upset to have missed it.

As we got up to leave, the conversation turned to Nuevo Tango, or more to the point what constitutes traditional tango. We stood with our coats on and carried on for nearly another hour, unable to leave the gripping debate.I think we all agreed that those who do Nuevo moves rarely if ever do them with any musicality, but interestingly, someone said that I do more moves than anyone.

This is obviously a matter of perception, I may do lots of secadas, and the odd volcada and barrida but nothing is choreographed. This I think is what makes it look like I do a lot, because nothing is set, I can do the same thing over and over, in different ways and it always looks different. (I hope).

The point is I let the music tell me when to do a certain move, not some routine that has been taught.

We had a lively debate about what is traditional tango: To me it is what we have kept from the golden age. I say kept because much has been lost and some only exists as yet in sheet music. The dancing is close, very close, it involves a lot of pivots and giros, the heels never come far off the floor. This is a style that developed in the golden age, when we had (in my opinion) the best music, there was money in Argentina and people had leisure time and wonderful dance floors.

The assertion was made that traditional tango could be what came from the turn of the last century. To this I would disagree; the music was more rhythmical, the hold was more open and pivots did not exist. This was a product of the floors that they danced on; it was not common to have good floors, often dancing on cobbles or flagged areas.

Later on in tangos history the film industry got involved and a much more open style developed, what we now call Nuevo. The distance between the couple was necessary so that they could both be seen on the screen. The big kicks and flicks again were there to look good on the big screen.

We (well most of us) are not in the movies; we go onto the dance floor for our own pleasure, so it makes sense that we do the dance that is designed to give us the most enjoyment, not something designed either for the big screen or cobbled streets.

Back for a while to the music: There is nothing wrong with a bit of canjegue along with our golden age music, it gives us some variety. We can dance to tango music from all over the spectrum, and why not? The problems come when we move into electronic. All argentine tango music follows a set pattern and because they follow this pattern we can predict what the music will do next and when it will finish. For this reason they are all between two and a half and three and a half minutes long, generally three minutes or there about, but theses are the extremes.

So how can the likes of Gotan fit into this? Triptico, for instance is ten minutes and ten seconds long. Quite apart from the difficulty of knowing what is coming next, I would be exhausted, and because the music does not tell me what to do, I would be running out of ideas. This is of course why the Nuevo crowd dance to this music; if you are choreographed you don’t want the music to get in the way of your routine.

Now don’t get me wrong I enjoy listening to Gotan and other elecronico, but tango is about the music as much as the dance (some would say more). There is some modern music that is good tango, there are good bands out there and it can be fun to experiment with new instruments and push the boundaries, but when you loose the structure you loose the essence, the dancers cannot follow and this feeling that the whole room is dancing as one is lost.

There I have gone off on one again, tango brings out a passion in us all, and to those who still want to do Nuevo I would say “As long as you feel the passion it is OK” but the two cannot mix, our social dancing is interrupted by high kicks and we do not allow the space. Nuevo should be kept to the clubs and dances that cater for it, when you mix Nuevo with traditional, conflicts happen. The traditionalists will complain about selfish dancing and music that is not tango. Often the nuevos will not be allowed the space in which to dance and will be treated with hostility. This is of course because the traditionalists need to keep moving line of dance, where as the nuevos do not, so much so that they almost become different dances.

There are places to dance in this style even in Buenos Aires, so that is why I am bemused by someone coming into a traditional club and throwing their legs in the air. This happens of course, but in my favourite club Fulgor, I have seen people thrown off the dance floor for doing ganchos. (Not physically of course, but they were asked to leave)

I think that those who do Nuevo will, in time, learn the true meaning of tango and come back into the fold, until then they must enjoy in their own time and space.

Something else that came up in The Coracle was of course my blog. I get some stick about it, it is only fair as I often give it out, but all I would say is if ever I upset or unjustly insult someone (Dave is excluded from this) please tell me. It is never my intention to cause offence. Similarly you are more than welcome to correct any factual errors or spelling mistakes I may make.

If no one pulls me up I will of course go on believing that I am perfect.

One other thing, I have accumulated some more facts for Mike about the Dutch invasion of Britain on 5th November 1688 with some20,000 men and 500 ships. I will of course debate this further next week.

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