Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tanda of the Week 10/2015 - Black Magic - Mixed orchestras - DJ Antti Suniala

De Angelis, Rotundo, Varela and D'Arienzo

1. Alfredo De Angelis / Oscar Larroca - "Volvamos a empezar" 1953
2. Francisco Rotundo / Floreal Ruíz - "Resignate hermano" 1952
3. Héctor Varela / Argentino Ledesma - "Un remordimiento" 1955
4. Juan D'Arienzo / Jorge Valdez - "Destino de flor" 1957

http://open.spotify.com/user/anttiveikko/playlist/1HuHsYTsMsFMstkhNO0X4ihttp://www.deezer.com/playlist/1167936751This weeks tanda is an experiment into the dark arts and black magic of mixing songs from different orchestras into one tango tanda. Mixing orchestras in a tanda is not common practise and is generally frowned upon especially when not done well. Most common and more accepted examples of it are the milonga and even vals tandas with songs from many orchestras, often partly due to a lot more limited amount of recordings in both styles. I am not quite sure if the term "Ronda de ases" is used only for a tanda consisting of the greatest hits of tango from several orchestras put into one tanda - like a super romantic tanda from Canaro's "Poema" and Fresedo's "Buscandote" etc. - or if can be used in general for a tango tanda of mixed orchestras even if the songs are not such standard super hits? Here I experiment with the latter option.

The journey to the dark side began when I came across Rotundo's "Resignate hermano" and thought it sounded suprisingly a lot like a mix of early 50's De Angelis, Varela and D'Arienzo. So to pass time on my bus tour* I tried to find songs that'd go well with it. I was juggling many songs from all the other three orchestras and the tanda turned out like this... for now.

I personally don't look for DJ's to mix orchestras in tango tandas, although I might tolerate/approve/appreciate one mixed tanda in a set, but rather have the difference between tandas provide enough variation and inspiration for the dancers. I think mixing orchestras is more acceptable when the songs or orchestras are not super well-known. I know many DJ's do it with some early 30's music. I've done it on the blog earlier in similar style with an instrumental tanda of Orquesta Tipica Victor, Provincianos and Donato. One of the fundamental ideas for a tanda is to have a consistent style and mood throughout the tanda, a task which can be possible even with the mixing of the orchestras. Sometimes you might find a great song but the same orchestra doesn't have enough songs for a great tanda and you want to look a bit further into similar songs from other sources. However, when it comes to true classics, I really would not want anyone mixing for example Troilo/Fiorentino and Di Sarli/Rufino even if the DJ in their mind could come up with some kind of consistency and similarity.

-- EDIT: another example of a mixed tanda on TOTW is this tanda of the singer Carlos LaFuente with orchestras Tipica Victor, Marcucci, Provincianos and Carabelli. So the tanda has different although very similar orchestras and the same singer in every song. I dare to say that this tanda is a fairly perfect example of how mixing of orchestras is done well.

Of course it could be argued that the orchestras and songs of this tanda of mine are fairly well-known (or could it?) but for example I chose to go with D'Arienzo/Valdez because the song and style is not the most common to D'Arienzo... I tried some songs from the earlier 50's with Laborde and Echague but found that Jorge Valdez as a singer also matched the other singers (Larroca, Ruiz and Ledesma) better. From Varela I was thinking of going with "Moneda de cobre" but thought of "El remordimiento" as a slightly softer choise for this rather massive and strong tanda. Maybe I could've also looked into the Varela recordings with Rodolfo Lesica.

I found out that by pure luck, or guidance from the tango devils, "El remordimiento" is actually composed by Francisco Rotundo. Rotundo also recorded "Destino de flor" with Alfredo del Río. I tried hard to find a connection for Rotundo and the De Angelis song to satisfy my tango geek side as well, but failed to do so.

Now... if you find yourself behind the decks at a very traditional milonga, it's probably not a great idea to play something like this. If you feel like your crowd is ready for some experimentation then this tanda might work. If you think they'll like the opening track then they'll probably enjoy the rest of the tanda too. I sure would rather dance to this than 50's D'Arienzo/Echague, which always rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway.... the tanda is an experiment. I even thought of saving it for an April Fool's tanda and mark all the songs to have been recorded by Rotundo and see how fast my readers realize the mixing of orchestras... but the Spotify/Deezer playlists would've of course given it away too soon.

So my friends and enemies. Do you think these songs have a consistent enough style to be mixed into one tanda? Would you even notice the difference in styles? Would you recommend other songs to improve the tanda? Have you played or danced to any great tango tandas of mixed orchestras?


PS. I updated the neglected complete TOTW playlist on Spotify!

De Angelis, Alfredo - TOTW - Todo Tango - tango.info - iTunes Store
Rotundo, Francisco - TOTW - Todo Tango - tango.info - iTunes Store
Varela, Héctor - TOTW - Todo Tango - tango.info - TangoTunes - iTunes Store
D'Arienzo, Juan - TOTW - Todo Tango tango.info - TangoTunes - iTunes Store



I just finished a two week tour of 3200 km by bus... I played in Vilnius (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki and Tampere (Finland) and Lodz and Warsaw (Poland). The hours of sitting in busses and the recovery was made a lot easier by the great tango communities, dancers, organizers and my hosts. Thank you all!

14 kommenttia:

  1. Antti, I'm sure you don't have enemies! TOTW is a useful resource and forum. I like it not least because you allow critical comments and debate. I admire people who show even-handedness to other views, even when they have own position.

    Mixing orchestras is fine - if you stick to the same feel though the tracks. I agree that's more the case with milonga especially, and with vals and I agree it would be more common with the orchestras and era you mention.

    Anyway, even if I knew the music in this tanda better I doubt I would dance it because I don't much like this kind of music, so how well the songs fit together doesn't matter much to me.

    I really dislike the strings in the first song. They scream 50s casual flamboyance and have that 50s orchestral quality that I just don't like in tango. On third listening though, I think there's something in the song itself. I'm just not keen on the interpretation. I quite like Larroca. You got me further along than I thought I'd go.

    The second track is very different although it's got that same 50s showy extravagance I dislike as much as reverb. The piece has a B-side, empty drama that makes me cringe. I like Ruiz though - apart from all those rrrrrs.

    The third song is very different again. I thought it had more going for it at first than the others and that it might be better in last position. I even thought that on a special day I might be persuaded into dancing it with the right partner - until there was all that melodrama from the singer. If you were looking for continuity - for sure that element carried through into the 50s d'Arienzo track.

    It's just not me. Sorry! And I'm not sure I'd want to play for a crowd that might like this...

    1. Hey Felicity.

      Thank you for the long comment! All comments and opinions are indeed welcome here.

      I'm not saying these are all that great songs but I obviously seem to like the 50's orchestral quality and melodrama more than some. For me it's part of the spectrum of styles and emotions I need for a good milonga. Not many tandas but at least one. But I also have my preferences even for this style and I really don't like a lot of the 50's stuff which some other DJ's and dancers do.

      Anyway... your last comment is a bit strange. Liking this kind of music doesn't exclude liking other kind of tango. I wouldn't say such a thing about playing to fans of guardia vieja etc.... unless they're very hard core about it and have a crisis about me playing Troilo. :D

    2. I love late 1950s music. In fact I'd travel a fair distance for a 1950s only milonga.

  2. "Liking this kind of music doesn't exclude liking other kind of tango."
    For sure. The last point was more that I'm just not sure I can imagine that music being danced well. Perhaps I need to get out more. But I find liking that kind of music enough to dance it a hard empathetic leap so I'm not sure how I could or would play for people I can't empathise with. I can do it (even) with some more extravagant Di Sarli or some less extravagant Pugliese, or De Angelis in the 50s because I know some people like it and think it's good for dancing. I like some of it. So I understand that in a way I find hard to understand how people could want to dance (as opposed to listen to) say, a lot of Guardia Vieja. I found myself dancing Federico's Leyenda Gaucha recently, and might play it but much past that, psychologically I find it hard to go. I don't see dancers as mere consumers of product that I supply to meet a demand. I have to keep an empathy or I would lose the feeling for it.

    1. Would you like to say a bit more about your definition of "danced well"?

  3. :) When you can describe the smell of strawberries...

  4. Antti, I think taste in dance is like taste in music or food. It just differs. And as with those things you also get groups liking the same sort of thing.

  5. Of course. But don't be too eager to put people into groups and categories. Even if I'd like this tanda it would not change the fact that we'd probably share almost completely our view of good tango music to dance to. If I'd dance to Varela with Ledesma instead of D'Agostino with Vargas, sure my energy would be different but there still would not be a single gancho or colgada or any of the other stuff we're all afraid of. But you couldn't emphatize with me?

    In all honesty, I've been in a situation where I've had lack of empathy for the hard core guardia vieja fans and/or some marathonites in attendance and afterwards felt confused from some of thems disappointed looks while still getting praises from the majority of dancers in or closer to my... my group!

    My question was more to find out if you wanted to say "this music is not danceable" to which I would've said "nope, this music doesn't inspire you but you could totally dance to it in a todo trad way."

  6. I struggle with the group thing. Is it better to have a dance where there is a mix of everyone, that is open to new people and visitors, or is it better to have specialist milongas for different ages, and different tastes in music and dance? I used to be all for variety between milongas but also by definition that leads to specialism per milonga, which in a way is a good thing but there are consequences to that which I'm not as convinced as I used to be that are good. The more specialist, the less open/welcoming almost by definition. So a milonga with good trad and good dancing, absolutely. But on that is cliquey and closed. No.

    About empathy - I don't know. I don't much empathise with performance. I think later music tends to get more showy, more performance-like. That's what I mean - perhaps I'll have to get out more to places that stuff is danced and see. I'm not saying it's not danceable. Some people will dance it. I just wonder what there is in that music that means it could be danced well - and I'm open to the idea it might be. I'm just sceptical.

    Re "nope, this music doesn't inspire you but you could totally dance to it in a todo trad way."
    No way! Why would I want to dance in any way to music that doesn't inspire me? I almost never do that. Occasionally I have, reluctantly with guys I knew were good or had something good about them. Four times in the last two and a bit months I'd say - and that's going some.

    1. I struggle with the group thing as well. I have more of a choice when I choose which milonga I go to dance to but not so much when I DJ. But I appreciate all audiences and opportunities to play for people as long as we don't go to the very extremes. In fact I'd be happiest if I had two regular milongas where I play... one super trad and the other more open trad. where I could experiment a bit more.

      And with the "you could totally dance to it" part I didn't not mean specifically you. The point was that "not danceable" and "not inspiring" are two different things.

    2. "In fact I'd be happiest if I had two regular milongas where I play... one super trad and the other more open trad. where I could experiment a bit more."
      Nice idea. Why don't you do that!

      Re experimentation in the right conditions...last night, I'd just danced the two OTV milonga tracks, Milonga de los fortines and Cacareando I would never think to play what came next. Had it been at the start of the evening I imagine I might have scoffed and gone to get a drink. But it was late in the evening, I was dancing with a great guy and had a lovely time. Had it not been him though, I might have left. I find and I often hear from others that the world of tango music and dance has a perverse way of causing one to continually contradict oneself! I couldn't place the orchestra though and was astonished when it was Fresedo in the 20s: Frases de amor - Rivas - Saturnia - Noches de colon. Listening now, I still find it hard to believe I had as nice a time as I did. Still, I think it's experiences like that that cause me to think about experimentation...

    3. Re "you could totally dance to it" I realised later the "you" was generalised. I don't quite understand though when you say "not inspiring" and "not danceable" are two different things. I think what you were saying earlier is "Some people may find that music danceable and can dance it in a trad way. " OK. But dancing in a trad way does not inherently have value in my book, just because there are no ganchos or colgadas. I saw a couple dancing nuevo style to trad music in Pavadita, London last year and there was no other couple I would rather have watched. I saw a roomful of guys in Milonga Popular, Berlin, many of them experienced, dancing a fast (trad) milonga with their partners mostly in a "trad", unostentatious way that is generally desirable among people who like trad dancing. And it was good. But there was one guy that I thought danced it really well. I'm not sure that "dancing well" and "dancing in a trad way" are quite synonymous. I think the former is a subset of the latter.

  7. I've listened to the tanda on


    The individual songs are all great. But unless I am being a super ass they are not super ases.

    The orchestras and singers are all significantly and noticeably different from each other without a cortina to break the mood.

    And the tanda without the cortina is only 12 minutes long. After the first 3 minute song I am just getting into the mood of the band + singer.

    1. Hey Warren. Thanks for your comment. You are correct that the songs are not super aces, as I also stated in the post.

      The singers are different because, well, they are. I listened to the tanda again and I think that it's Floreal Ruiz that stands out the most while the others have more similarities in my opinion.

      I still think though that the styles of the orchestras have a lot in common... maybe D'Arienzo stands out too much.

      Not really sure what you mean with the last part.... This experiment can be a failure and I have never played this tanda. Maybe a mixed tanda really needs to include iconic hits for it to work. While I occasionally play the other songs I still think that the Rotundo song that got me into this thought process is the weakest of the four.