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Saturday, 30 January 2010

In need of a pick-me-up? Try a vals or two!

What makes the tango vals unique? Are there elements in vals music that distinguishes it from Viennese waltz, or are they the same but we simply dance them differently?

Joaquin Amenabar, in his book ‘Tango. Let’s dance to the music!’ says: “The tango waltz is not different, from a rhythmic point of view, from the Viennese waltz. They both have a three-beat rhythm".

"The only difference is the speed: the music of tango waltz is faster than the Viennese waltz. It is only for this reason that, whilst in the Viennese waltz one steps on every beat, in the tango waltz we normally step on only the first of three beats – if not we would be dancing too fast.”

He goes on to say that in addition to the simple-time step, we can also make double-time steps. However, we step on two of the three beats – either as 1st & 2nd beat, or 1st & 3rd beat. These can also be interspersed with simple-time beats.

If we are going to dance vals, then we are obliged to step on the strong 1st beat …… then we can choose to introduce double- time steps and pauses in response to the music.

But quite apart from these technical details, we only need to look at the following three clips to see that personal style & personality adds another layer that makes each person’s tango vals unique. The second clip is evidence that, despite Joaquin’s statement, there are also some beautiful slow valses.

The first from Tete and Silvia “Claro de luna” illustrates the sense of freedom and joy that Tete brought to his vals.

The second from Osvaldo & Coca “Con tu mirar” is a lesson on understatement, and it’s worth looking for those elements of rhythm Joaquin talked about.

Thirdly, Roxana Suarez & Sebastián Achaval’s “Pabellon de las rosas” shows a very skilful young couple with wonderful timing & musicality.

Finally, for the classical music buffs, the lyrics of El viejo vals start with the following line: Al lánguido compás de un vals de Chopin, mi amor te confesé ... (Orchestra: Francisco Rotundo, singers: Campos & Ruiz).


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