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Friday, 17 June 2011

Getting the music

Most milongueros would say that “getting” the music is the first priority when dancing tango. After all, tango is a feeling that is danced. So for most of us, who weren’t listening to tango while still in the womb, we have a little catching up to do!

It’s not only about the rhythm, the phrases are also very important. And of course, we can dance to the melody. For some of us, individual instruments may seize our attention ....... they may be playful or intense, etc. In the end, it’s all about how the music speaks to us at the time. And because the music has several layers, our response to it is likely to be different each time we dance. Isn’t that part of the fun?

Interestingly, I find myself “re-discovering” tangos which I’d previously neglected. Without a doubt, listening to the music a lot allows the brain and the body to respond better, to tune in more effectively to the nuances and opportunities which the music offers. So my advice is to listen to tango music frequently. For anyone wanting to start or improve their music collection, Stephen & Susan Brown’s recommendations are a great start. For lovingly restored recordings, Keith Elshaw is your man.

Teachers of tango have a major responsibility here, too. We all need to be nurturing our students with danceable tango music, and it should be appropriate to their skill level. There should be an obvious connection between the music and the skills being taught. No, it’s not “rocket science”. Yet, too often one hears of complex figures more suited to the stage being pursued relentlessly by teachers, even though their students may lack fundamental skills. What could be the point of this, when the pre-requisites for tango bliss are good connection with the music & one’s partner, and a nice embrace?



  1. It always amazes me that a lot of people have to have this explained. I have been asked why I started tango. I used to watch the Adams family and see Gomez and Morticia dancing theatrically to tango, but they moved to the music, and that is what appealed. To me it is moving to the music or to put it the other way the music moves me. Also I can understand the statement "I find myself “re-discovering” tangos" as I have found this. Roger

  2. I have found that playing tango recordings at 95-85% of their original speed makes it easier for people to distinguish the different elements of the music.

  3. Thanks for the sharing that useful strategy, LimerickTango. It's something which Dany Borelli (Buenos Aires DJ) does with the very brisk recordings eg. D'Arienzo 1940-41. No doubt other DJs do this, too.

    Best wishes from volcanic ash-affected Australia.


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