Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Hock Siew, Nov 9, 2011.
To add to what Anda said, it's most important for the rhythm section of the band to know the feel of the song. The drum player usually sets it; in the case of tango, it's the bass and/or the piano who emphasizes the down beat, giving it the 123123 feel. Three notes in 4/4 time would be 123rest 123rest
Things get a little weirder with complex signatures. I've seen 5/4 played as either 12312 or 12123. Usually the score will have accents indicating how it's going to be played.
For example, Gonzalo Rey in El Tango. De expresión marginal a Patrimonio de la Humanidad writes:
The early form of milonga, today know as Milonga campera, is quite different from the Milonga urbana, that we dance today. This music is often melancholy. An example of milonga campera is Milonga triste (you can find it in Todotango) recently covered by Hugo Diaz.
This music was originally not danced. In fact you can find references of a music called "milonga" back to time of the Battle of Caseros (1852), but there are no references of dance before the last decades of 1800. And the dance that compadritos were doing in 1883, as cited by Ventura, was nothing else than an early form of tango, when the word tango was still not used. This dance was not what you mean as "milonga dance": it included PAUSES, and contortions that you won't consider "milonga" at all.
Yes: it doesn't seem to contraddict the fact that Vals is Waltz.
If you want a reference, here is the definition of the REAL ACADEMIA ESPAÑOLA dictionary:
(Del al. Walzer, de walzen, dar vueltas).
1. m. Baile, de origen alemán, que ejecutan las parejas con movimiento giratorio y de traslación. Se acompaña con una música de ritmo ternario, cuyas frases constan generalmente de 16 compases, en aire vivo.
2. m. Música de este baile.
Waltz (or Vals, or Walzer, or Valzer) is a music, and also a dance.
Argentine Tango is another dance.
Argentine Tango is not linked to "quick-quick-slow-slow" or any other rhythmic pattern or timing. You just step freely, but of course, your steps must someway fit with the music.
If you step on
1 2 3 4 or 1 2 3 4 or 1 2 3 1 2 3 or 1 2 3 1 2 3 or 1 2 3 1 2 3 or any other combination
you don't have five or more different dances on their own.
There is definitely a waltz "feel", similar to what you said about a swing "feel." Listen to almost any recording of the waltzes of Strauss for an idea of one famous type of waltz "feel."
But the fact that something is in 3/4 doesn't require you to "swing" in *only* one way. 3/4 time is used in all sorts of music, at all sorts of tempi, and if you tried to play them with the same swing, it would sound odd at the least. For some classical examples, look up Chopin's Scherzo in C# Minor, or the third movement of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto for two examples of music which is written in 3/4, but has none of the feeling of a waltz.
Time signatures and what notes composers choose to use (ie, 1/4 or 1/2 or 32nd) are really more for the performer than the listener, to the extent that it is the performer who needs to know what to play, and when, and how fast. The listener doesn't need to be able to read music at all in order to enjoy it or dance to it competently.
All the listener knows is the "feel" of the song, and this is as much about tempo as it is about time signature and the tastes of the performer.
What you say about "playing straight" is an excellent point, too - stereotypical "swing" music isn't notated with the "swing" - it is understood that the performer will know how to play it in style. So you'll see two eighth notes, but the second one will be played so it is roughly half the length of the first. "In The Mood" (Glenn Miller) is a GREAT example of a song that swings like there's no tomorrow, but the sheet music shows it straight, with a really unusual tempo marking: Moderately (in the groove).
Waltzes are similar - there's a feel to them, a "waltziness", but it changes from style to style. Strauss sounds like parody sometimes; Chopin is highly elegant and stately.
If it has a certain "feel" to it - you'll tend to follow that feel, regardless of what it looks like on paper. Sorry this post is so long!
My take on this is that the dancing comes from the music. Tango music is demonstrably different from milonga music, which is demonstrably different from vals music. (I fail to see your point about "vals" just being "waltz" in a different language. So?) Fundamentally, the dancing should fit the music and be expressive of the music. So, given the difference in feel between the three types of music, there are (or should be) very real differences between the dances themselves. Of course they are all related--highly related. Same body of steps, same underlying technique. But milonga technique is somewhat different (at least as I know it), being more into the knees and ankles. If you prefer to think of it as one dance with three flavors, fine. That's how it all gets lumped under the heading of "Argentine Tango"...but there is no denying that the character of the dances, as derived from the character of the music, makes them look and feel totally different from one another.
Peaches, excellent explanation and great point!
I reported the definition of the most authoritative dictionary of the spanish language. But you can look at the english wikipedia, if you prefer.
If I say that merengue, fox trot, mazurka and flamenco are different dances, it's not just because the music is different, or because I watch them and I feel that they are different, or because when I dance merengue I fell happy and when I dance flamenco I feel proud... there is something more objective. This is what I am asking for.
If "being a dance on its own" just means having its own character or feel clearly recognizable, then yes: milonga is dance, vals is another dance... and tango?
Tango can have a lot characters and feels. Some tangos are ironic, some tangos are sad, some tangos have the rhythm of habanera, others the rhytm of a march, others have the 3:3:2, some are faster, some are slower. All that features are reflected in the dance.
I'm not arguing with your definition. I just fail to see what your point is about it. Yes, vals is the Spanish word for waltz. Tango vals is a tango waltz. So what? How is that related to anything else.
OK. So foxtrot, mazurka, merengue and flamenco are different because there are objective differences in the music, yes? That's the point you're making, correct? Well, then, apply your same logic. Vals/waltz is its own thing because the music is its own thing. Milonga is its own dance because the music makes it so. Tango, also, has its own music. That's what makes it different.
Yes, different tangos can have different feels to them. Some are very rhythmic, some are more lyrical. I'd be curious to hear an example of a tango that has a 3:3:2 feel, or one with a habanera rhythm (because a habanera rhythm, AFAIK, is what distinguishes a milonga from the others...it's rather a defining characteristic). But just because different tangos can have different feels to them doesn't make them different dances. Different tango songs, while emotionally different from one to the next, still have more in common with each other (objectively!) than they do with either milonga or vals. Or, for that matter, foxtrots or quicksteps or merengue or salsa. By the same token, different valses have different feels to them--stately, romantic, sad, etc.--as do milongas.
So it's a style of waltz: the waltz performed by tango orchestras in Buenos Aires. But the dance is not waltz at all, it has almost nothing to do with waltz.
No, it's exactly the opposite: I said "it's NOT just because the music is different"
Perfect. If you can tell the same for the dance, you can conclude that they are different dances.
Now please watch this video (the music is a tango: El africano by Eduardo Pereyra) and tell me what you think about the dance.
Well, hey, Chanchan, thanks for "bringing it". Very much enjoying the information that you are citing, including the vids.
Here, I assume you are speaking for yourself, because they are most certainly part of MY milonga vocabulary. Again, I find PAUSES in the music, and the inspiration to do "contortions' that are African like when I listen to certain songs. The pauses are also on some of the sheet music for songs that declare themselves "milonga". (or is that TodoTango declaring them "milonga"?
I do the same to certain songs that are "officially" tangos.
The uncertainties of "what something is" don't concern me much at all.
A rose by any other name...
I AM working on a similar situation with our West Coast Swing. (Oh, they are doing lots of double rhythm to Bill Haley rock n roll. Is that West Coast Swing?)
Anyone interested in "swing" might want to look the write up here. http://www.acoustics.org/press/137th/friberg.html I found the whole article in an on line journal.
Clearly, there are many intermediate and transitional songs between genres. Another one I've looked at is ragtime. But that doesn't mean that having names for things isn't useful. Same thing for dances.
And basically, that's all they are, useful constructs.
Regarding "vals" and "waltz". It's a 'Tango vals" because it's played by the same musicians with the same instruments and the same sensibility as tango.
Same thing with "tango vals" the dance.
Actually I was meaning "most people", not really you: it was a mistake.
From a musical point of view, Tango vals can be considered a waltz that is played by the same musicians with the same instruments and the same sensibility as tango. You can also see it as a form of tango (in a broader sense) which has taken the rhythm of from waltz. If you prefer, you can consider it as a kind fusion of tango and waltz, which has some feature of waltz and some feature of tango. All those interpretations make sense.
But it is not the same thing with the dance. Tango vals is NOT the waltz dance danced by the same dancers with the same technique and the same sensibility as tango. It is not even a form of tango which has taken the rhythm form waltz, because you do one or two, and very seldom three steps on three beats. And it is not even a fusion, because this dance has nothing in common with waltz dance: posture is different, steps are different, giros are different, technique is different.
It is just a form of tango which fits the music of waltz.
so tango vals must have once been Nuevo!!!
Sorry... I didn't get the joke.
"Nuevo" music is an evolution of tango, isn't it?
well I'm sorry you didnt get the joke too.
Hi chanchan! Not that easy! Is that piece of music really a tango?? Or is it perhaps Milonga? Or does the composer did not knew it, and even left it suspended? The feel is Milonga. the signature is 2/4 as it was usual in the guardia vieja. That doent mean anything. We already wrote here about the feel of 2/4 vs. 4/4 tangos (actually cant find the link). El Africano and the huge number of similar pieces used to be labelled as Tango-Milonga (one word) by the people of that generation. I hate this classification and do not use it, at all.
Concerning the dancing: A minority dances like what we today would call Milonga. The rest is dancing Orillero. And Orillero was the playful variant of Canyengue. So by now we´ve got a three-dimensal field of classification. Do you still want to go further into it?
Steve, thought we´ve left that view behind! Historically vals and tango got nothing in common! (Except some steps). We agreed not to promote the word tango-vals any more. Sorry, cannot find the thread, but you´ve taken part!
Separate names with a comma.