Monday, March 24, 2014

Tanda of the Week 13 / 2014 - Héctor Varela instrumentals

1. Héctor Varela - "La catrera" 1957
2. Héctor Varela - "Nueve de julio" 1957
3. Héctor Varela - "Mi dolor" 1953
4. Héctor Varela - "Pa' que te oigan bandoneón" 1956 of my favorite milongas in Berlin is the "Café Dominguez" in Mala Junta on sundays. It is a milonga from 3pm to 9pm and it  often ends with such high energy that you think you're in one of the best festivals ever... until you remember it's just the normal sunday milonga. The music is excellent and it's wonderful to finish a milonga when the floor is fully packed until the very last song and many people still have energy enough to continue to the next sunday milonga, Max & Moritz.

Another interesting thing about Cafe Dominguez is that they have a crew of five Dj's taking turns as the musicalizador of the night. This tanda is inspired by one of the last tandas of a set from Dj Frank Seifart in a Cafe Dominguez milonga a long time ago. I have forgotten the actual songs and all I do remember from it was that I was dancing to massive Varela instrumentals and was expecting the tanda to finish with the biggest of them all,  "Pa' que te oigan bandoneón", as it did. Mr. Seifart managed to capture the high energy of the dance floor perfectly and got the dancers to give even more. For me, this song trumps even the bigger than life "Este es El Rey" from D'Arienzo. It's not full steam all the way but when the song hits the 1:30 mark you know you're in a tango roller coaster of passion like no other.

I was juggling the songs back and forth to find a right order for them. I like the intro of "Nueve de julio" for an opening of a tanda, but I feel it works better as a second song, as after the intro I get slightly lost in trying to recognize the song and thinking if I like this or not. So therefore I chose to go with "La catrera", which is a fine version of the classic song and I think it starts strong, clear and is more inviting than basically any of the other songs. The massive intro of "Pa' que..." might scare off a lot of people, if I had it as the first song, but by the end of the tanda I believe they're more attuned to embracing all that Varela has to give. And for the people who would rather sit out Varela I hope the first song gives them a clear enough signal to do just that. The third song "Mi dolor" from 1953 takes a small step back from the grand later 50's sound and I feel it gives a small breather before the finale of the tanda.

All comments about the tanda are appreciated. I was making this one watching Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona and now just danced to the tanda myself and I loved it on both occasions. But, needless to say this tanda is not for every dancer and every milonga.

anyways... Enjoy the tanda!

I came across a good discography of Varela here.

Varela, Héctor - TOTW - Todo Tango - - TangoTunes - iTunes Store 

13 kommenttia:

  1. Berlin's Café Dominguez began as a milonga playing traditional music and I see still it is advertised thus. So I'm really surprised to read here that it is playing music such as this.

    1. And I'm not suprised to read your comment, Chris.

      I don't want to be misrepresenting either the Milonga or the Dj I've mentioned in this post and I'm not going to try to speak for them.

      But in my books, neither the Milonga or Dj will lose their traditional status when there's one tanda of music in a 6 hour set you'd put in something like performance music category. For me it's still good danceable tango from a good orchestra.

  2. I love Café Dominguez.
    Thanks for "Pa' que te oigan bandoneón", Antti!

    1. You're most welcome! The song has been stuck in my head for days now.

  3. Antti, here is an idea. How about declaring when a tanda here is not traditional? That would avoid miseducating readers who are new to tango and who take as true your statement at the top of this page: "a tango of traditional tango argentino".

    1. Sure, I could do that. Could you maybe recommend an online article, which would best define traditional tango? I could link to it here and also write more about different styles of tango.

  4. Antti wrote: "Could you maybe recommend an online article, which would best define traditional tango?"

    Re article, I've not seen one I'd recommend. Re definition, I'd stick with your existing one.

    1. And which definition of mine are you referring to?

    2. Antti wrote: "And which definition of mine are you referring to?

      Whichever is operative for the blog's mission statement at the top of this page.

    3. But that is not a definition. That's just something referring to a definition that I haven't really defined on the blog yet. I'm looking for the actual definition of what is traditional tango? You seem to go mostly by "Traditional tango is music that is played in a milonga in Buenos Aires", which is still a very abstract definition. I've been there for 7 months and heard all kinds of stuff played. So much depends on which barrio, milonga, which DJ and when... Now? 10 years ago? 35 years ago? One DJ will not play Pugliese after 1949 but the other will. Most of Fresedo played in BA is instrumentals but I wouldn't call the vocal songs not traditional. Somebody said to me after one of my sets that I'm more traditional than DJ's in Buenos Aires. Anyway... I'm looking for a definition less open for interpretation and less dependent on guessing what's going on in Buenos Aires.

      I personally go more for comparing compositions and arrangements and compare the recording to other versions of the same song. Let's take this tanda for example. First three are classic, let's say traditional compositions, but less traditional arrangements when the last song is not a traditional composition nor a traditional arrangement. So safe to say it's not a very traditional tanda. Danceable? Yes. Nuevo like Francini-Pontier, Quinteto Real or Piazzolla? No. Played in Buenos Aires? Prob not.

      I can start tagging some tandas with traditional and not traditional. I just want to get these definitions right. Let me know also if you can come up with a definition for a 95% traditional DJ 5% something else but not nuevo or electronic hell no.

    4. Antti wrote: "...which is still a very abstract definition. I've been there for 7 months and heard all kinds of stuff played"

      Sure - it includes a very wide variety of music.

      "So much depends on which barrio, milonga, which DJ ... One DJ will not play Pugliese after 1949 but the other will."

      Sure - it gives plenty of room for different choices.

      "I'm looking for a definition less open for interpretation and less dependent on guessing what's going on in Buenos Aires.""

      If your target audience is people not prepared to go to BA, listen for themselves and do a bit of interpretation and guessing, well, I wonder that any definition might hinder more than help. Just see the definition-based "tango" of the dance class world hereabouts. That's what comes of eliminating personal interpretation and guesswork just where it is essential.

      I think one of the reasons one does not find a written definition of trad (for milognas) is that, like many things, it is just down to consensus. 'Trad' is just the music most people refer to thus. And yes in practice that's the music (tango and others) that's played in mainstream milongas, in BA and elsewhere.

      Anyway, surely the great thing about this blog delivering music rather than just words is that it does not need a definition in words. Say "This is trad" and play trad. Then people find out what is trad just by listening. If non-trad must be included, as you say, label it an an exception. Or perhaps better, put it on another blog.

      "Let me know also if you can come up with a definition for a 95% traditional DJ 5% something else but not nuevo or electronic hell no."

      Sure: "95% traditional DJ 5% something else but not nuevo or electronic hell no."


    5. Here I was hoping you'd call me a neo-traditionalist or something :D

      Thank you for the reply. All good points.

      I will have to think about this subject more and at one point I'll write a short article about it trying to define the base for traditional tango, which can be more easily agreed upon, and the borderline areas and where we cross to not traditional.

  5. Great to see Pa'que te oigan played here - one of my favourites, but then I obviously have a bias :)
    I think the issue about traditional/non-traditional is one of terminology. To me, all tango music from Buenos Aires is traditional because it grows out of a tradition in which musicians are interconnected - a set of lineages if you like. So if traditional means "pertaining to a tradition" then that includes Piazzolla and Beytelmann just as much as as D'Arienzo and Canaro. The tradition has always reinvented itself - as is all music. But there is a distinction between music made for dancing and that made for listening.
    I think "traditional" here is being used to mean "suitable for milonguero dancing", "played in my experience in milongas", or "music I would consider dancing to" - and that is a very different kettle of fish. I think this is always going to be subjective and so perhaps we should be more reticent in claiming such-and-such a piece does or does not belong to the canon of tradition. However I understand and share the view that we should cherish the tango music that was created for the salon using the rhythms and inflections of Buenos Aires, and be wary of less suitable music that doesn't have that structure.
    People find it much easy to dance tango moves to pop music or electro tango with a constant beat, but they also find it easier to dance to the simplest "traditional" tango such as Canaro and D'Arienzo rather than more sophisticated tango music that was equally created for the salon, such as Troilo and Pugliese. Milongas in the UK tend to be more conservative than those in BsAs (horrible generalisation!) and I think that reflects the musical sophistication of the clientele - people who have listened to tango music all their lives will simply have a more developed response to the music. I also think that scratchy mono recordings are a very poor learning tool for musical cognition, and listening/seeing music played live in an authentic style is a much richer experience - but that's my bias again I guess!