Tango Argentino > El Choclo: A Musical Analysis

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by tangomonkey, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Who are you asking?
  2. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Here's my .02 cents...

    I suppose it is possible to trace origins back into the distant past, depending on how broadly the characteristics of the dance and music are defined. But 1860 sounds about 20-30 years too early for tango; milonga, yes. Anyway, doesn’t really matter…

    I don’t see anyone dancing 1800’s habanera/polka/candombe hybrids at my local milongas. There’s a reason “Golden Age” is called that. The elements of the dance and music reached maturity and mass popularity then. Since that style is still danced today (with many variations of course) to music from that period, “Golden Age” is “traditional” enough for me. :)
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Take a look at this curiousity from 1862.


    Many of the movements favored by so called "neuvo" dancers were in existence before the golden age or developed during it. Canyengue, the very existence of which is questioned by for instance Alberto Paz, also is danced when the music is appropriate.
    During the early part of the last century most Argentines danced the Europeanized ballroom like tango that came back from the continent.

    But, that stuff doesn't fit into many people's definition of "traditional".
    And that is too bad because it leaves out a large portion of the history an richness of the dance.
  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    While I haven't seen the book you are referring to, I think I've mentioned before that some of the moves that the "milonguero", Pupi Castello, used to do, looked a lot more like nuevo than milonguero style.
  5. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    If I'm correct, he was very much an open embrace dancer.
  6. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I knew you'd come back with at least one interesting link. Thanks! By the way, what is the earliest date you've come across when the word "tango" is used to name a dance?

    I am all for development and expansion of tango, the dance and the music. And for sure that has been happening for a very long time - since the very beginnings, probably. Explains its longevity, I think. Regarding Golden Age, (as you know, of course) Thompson writes about Petroleo and a couple dozen others during the late 30s-40s who experimented with new ideas and moves in practicas and then took them to the milongas. He lists about half a dozen which have become staples in the "nuevo" repertoire.

    So change and development is part of the AT tradition. However, the core dance - stepping and pivoting in an embrace/hold, to moderately paced music in 4, with characteristic rhythmic patterns and syncopations (what I've been calling the "habaneras") - has been danced socially for over 100 plus years. That's what I mean by "traditional".
  7. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    In this post I'll discuss what I hear in Section B, as played by Firpo, Di Sarli, and D'Arienzo.


    Firpo plays Section B twice, at :24-:47 and 1:34-1:56. It is for the most part simply played. The melody and its rhythms are played as written, but without the accents marked in the sheet music. There is some marking of a 4 count but overall the feeling is in 2.

    B1, First Time Through :)24-36, pickup to 17-24): Melody played by bandoneon in marcato style. Each note is clipped short with more or less equal weighting – no accents. There is a decrescendo during Phrase 1 then a crescendo as the piano plays chords on the beats in Phrase 2’s Answer, to emphasize the end of the phrase. The piano is used to fill out the harmonies and adds fills between the phrases, and there is some syncopation along with the melody.

    B1, Second Time Through :)36:47, pickup to 17-24): The repeat adds a counter melody, played by violin. It has its own distinct phrasing and is more prominent than the primary melody played as before, marcato, by bandoneon. The violin melody begins in a low register and works its way up, playing longer held notes and is quite clearly in “2”. It is somewhat lyrical and adds a nice contrast.

    B2 (1:34-1:56, pickup to 17-24): No significant difference from B1, if any at all. Boring from a musical aspect but not necessarily so for dancing.

    Di Sarli

    Di Sarli plays Section B just once, at :32-1:05. Remember, his structure is rondo: A-B-A-C-A. So Section A has a significant role while the others are for contrast to it. This interpretation is very different from Firpo, who is closest to Villoldo, and to D’Arienzo’s elaborate multi-layered version, as we’ll see.

    B, First Time Through :)32-49, pickup to 17-24): Right away the character is lush and lyrical. The texture is thick. The melody is played by the strings, smoothly, with slight accents on the first note of each habanera 2 rhythm (as written by Villoldo), but not marcato. The accents clearly mark each beat one in the 2/4 count. The syncopation in habanera 2 is not emphasized. Phrase 2 offers a sharp contrast. The melody is played marcato by bandoneons, again with accents on the first note in each of the habanera 2 patterns. The Answer in Phrase 2 is played by the full orchestra with a crescendo.

    B, Second Time Through :)49-1:05, pickup to 17-24): Continues the way Phrase 2 did: bandoneon playing the melody marcato with accents on beat one. The piano is louder, more promint that previously, with a melodic idea and rhythmic pattern of its own. It is heavily accented with some syncopations, clearly marking beat one along with the bandoneons. Phrase 2’s texture is thinner, until the Answer, which is again played by full orchestra with a crescendo.

    Di Sarli’s Section B is more elaborate, more changes in texture, dynamics, and phrasing – sometimes smooth & lyrical, sometimes marcato. That’s what we saw in Section A too: Firpo is simple, close to the sheet music, Di Sarli is more varied and layered.


    D’Arienzo plays Section B twice, at :30-1:01 and 1:33-2:03. As we’ve seen in Section A, his is the most elaborate and layered arrangement. Features include melodic elaboration, accented syncopations, clear and continuous marking of a 4 count, and varied texture.

    B1, First Time Through :)30-:46, pickup to 17-24): Right away there is melodic elaboration, played by the bandoneons. There is accented syncopation, loosely based on the habanera 2 rhythm. It happens in the Answer of Phrase 1, bar 19, and is on the & counts , counting in 4, not 2. Bandoneons continue in the same manner, but without the syncopated accents, throughout Phrase 2. All the time the piano and bass mark the 4 count, playing on every beat except when the piano adds some fill between the phrases.

    B1, Second Time Through :)46-1:01, pickup to 17-24): Accented syncopation by bandoneons and piano begin the repeat. This time the melody is played unelaborated. There is a less clear marking of the 4 count throughout because the piano functions to emphasize the rhythmic syncopations, as does the bass. So a constant marked 4 is less apparent. Phrase 2’s Answer is played by the full orchestra, with a return of the piano and bass marking the 4 count beat. The texture is thicker and there’s a crescendo to end Section B.

    B2, First Time Through (1:33-:1:48, pickup to 17-24): Begins with a piano solo playing an elaboration of the melody. Bandoneons and bass enter, marking the 4 count and playing fills between the phrases. This texture and format lasts throughout both Phrases, ie. melodic elaboration by piano with bandoneon and bass support.

    B2, Second Time Through (1:48-2:03, pickup to 17-24): The melody is played unadorned, by bandoneons. There is accented syncopation on the & counts, by bandoneons and piano. And once again the section concludes with full orchestra and a crescendo.

    D’Arienzo is once again the most varied in terms of his use of melodic elaboration, rhythm and syncopation, instrumentation, and texture.

    That’s it for Section B.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Saw this unanswered question.

    Distinctive elements added from candombe were quebradas, improvised, jerky, semi-athletic contortions, the more dramatic the better, and cortes, a suggestive pause, or sudden break in the figures of the dance. Unlike in the then "Tango" of that group, however, where these movements were danced apart, they were now danced together.[ Tango! The Dance, the Song, the Story. Collier, Cooper, Azzi and Martin. 1995. Thames and Hudson, Ltd, p. 51. pp. 46–47

    The above is material I added to the milonga article in wikipedia. No date, but there was another? dance by the same name - tango.

    Saw 2 songs cited by Jo Biam with Tango in the title from early on, too.
  9. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Is this a good book, worth reading?
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I think it's worth a look.
    And, based on the reviews I saw in JSTOR, I think I'll take a look at that other book - Economics of Passion, as a library loan. Looks like enough history to interest me.
  11. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I'm working on Section C. I'll post an analysis of the section first then look at each interpretation, as I did for Section B.

    After all that is posted I'll sum up what I've written, taking each performance as a whole rather than in sections. I'll talk about the many differences and the similarities - what makes each interpretation unique. I will express my personal opinions about the performances, the emotional responses I get, what works for me and what doesn't. Basically I will be subjective, but my opinions will be based in objective facts as found in the analysis........
  12. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    ...and then we should discuss how we might dance to each of these versions. The fast paced, simple, marcato playing of Firpo; the slow tempo, less rhythmic, alternating marcato (bandoneons) and lyricism (strings) of Di Sarli; the moderate paced multi-layered, rhythmic drive and syncopation of D'Arienzo.

    That's the point of all this, after all... :)
  13. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    This post will discuss Section C, the last of El Choclo’s three sections. As before, I’ll begin by first describing what I see in the piano sheet music, then in a subsequent post I’ll look at how Firpo, Di Sarli, and D’Arienzo interpret Section C.

    Section C: 16 bars, pickup to bar 25-40

    Some general remarks first. Section C is brighter, much sunnier in nature compared to the other sections. Right from the start there is an obvious change of mood to happiness and playfulness. Phrase 2 changes, it is less bright, shifting to a minor key at first, then to a major key by the end. Phrases 3 and 4 are more or less exact repeats of 1 and 2.

    The generally bright, sunny quality is accomplished in several ways. The pickup to Phrase 1 has an F sharp. Section B was in F major, with an F natural, so an F sharp should be heard as indicating something is about to change. (When Section C follows B, doesn’t always in the actual performances). The first bar of the phrase (bar 25) clearly establishes D major, and the perfect cadence as the phrase progresses and ends make the key change very apparent. Remember, Section A is in d minor. D major is called the tonic major because it starts on the same note. There is a very distinct character difference between major and minor keys. Writing Section C in D major creates a huge change in character compared to Section A and Section B, but less so. This matters less when playing A-B-C. It very much does when Section A is played after or before Section C. The music instantly changes from happiness and brightness (Section C) to more somber and darkness (Section A), or vice versa. I’ll get more into that when I look at each orquesta’s playing of El Choclo as a whole. There are reasons each of them has ordered the sections the way they have.

    There is a clever feature in the rhythmic pattern of the melody. After the three pickup notes, the Questions and Answers in Phrase 1 and 3 use the first three notes of habanera 2 (with a sixteenth rest between the second and third notes). That ties the rhythm to Section B, which uses habanera 2 as the most distinguishing rhythm. The melodic shape is different but the rhythm creates a link between the sections. Each Q and A in Phrase 1 and 3 concludes with a triplet sixteenth note and an eighth note pattern; exactly the same as Section A, in the same part of the phrase and the same melodic shape. The links to Sections A and B are a nice touch. Although the mood is quite different in Section C, these rhythmic connections help unify Section C with what has come before.

    Phrase 1 (pickup to bar 25-28 )

    Modulation (key changes) and Harmonies: As noted, Phrase 1 clearly establishes modulation to D major with a perfect I-V7-I cadence, spread out over the entire phrase.

    Rhythm: As noted above, Phrase 1’s use of rhythmic patterns links the Section with the other sections. The patterns help create the Q&A feel.

    Phrasing (Including Melodic Shape and Pitches): These play a very important role. Every note is a note in the underlying harmonies. A D major chord is D-F sharp-A, and only these notes are heard in bar 25. When only chordal tones are played the notes are called an arpeggio. There is a distinct character difference between arpeggiated and more scale-based melodies. Arpeggios clearly define the chord and reflect its major, minor, or dominant 7th qualities. Scalar melodies do too, but less so. The Question and Answers are entirely built on arpeggios of the underlying harmonies. This is another factor contributing to the bright, sunny character. There is a clear Q&A feeling, as the Answer repeats the rhythms and melodic shape of the Question at a lower pitch overall.

    Phrase 2 (pickup to 29-32)

    Modulation and Harmonies: There are two changes of key in Phrase 2. It begins in the remote key of e minor, with a perfect V7-i cadence in the Question. The Answer is in A major, again with a perfect V7-I cadence. A major is the dominant of D major, so it transitions us back to the home key beginning at the start of Phrase 3. These modulations create a feeling of change and development, something is happening to alter the bright, sunny mood.

    Phrasing (Including Rhythm and Melodic Shape): In the Question (pickup to bar 29-30) the melody changes from an arpeggiated style to more scale-like, playing continuous sixteenth notes. This contributes to the change in mood. The Answer (pickup to bar 31-32) uses the three pickup notes and the triplet sixteenth - eight note rhythmic pattern used to end each Question and Answer so far. The pattern is played twice, the second time at a lower pitch. The use of modulation, rhythm, and melodic shape create a strong Q&A in this phrase.

    Phrase 3 (pickup to 33-36): Phrase 3 is an exact repeat of Phrase 1

    Phrase 4 (pickup to 37-40): The Question (pickup to bar 37-38 ) is exactly the same as the Question in Phrase 2. The Answer (pickup to bar 39-40) is different because it needs to conclusively end the section. It does so by playing continuous sixteenth notes rather than the repeating rhythmic pattern in Phrase 2’s Answer, creating a moving forward sensation. The harmonies are the same but there is a perfect cadence (V7-I) in D major at the very end to conclude distinctly back in the home key.

    Again, habanera 1 is in the bass line in almost every bar of Section C, as it was in Sections A and B, and it is not played. Not even by the Garden Quartet this time. Their interpretation is simple, but very nice. The cello plays the melody throughout and the other three instruments play chords in a repeating rhythmic pattern of two bars. Bar one is the entire habanera 2 rhythm (sixteenth-eighth-sixteenth on beat one, two eighths on beat two. Bar two is two eights on beat 1 with a rest (no sound) on beat two.

    The Garden Quartet (Section C is played at :57-1:26):

    I’ll present my thoughts on Firpo, Di Sarli, and D’Areinzo next time.

    After that I’ll talk a bit about an alternative way to view the phrases, sub-phrases and the Q&As, by dividing each section into two 8 bar phrases with 4 bar questions and answers. Villoldo is quite clever – his use of melodic shape, rhythm, keys make the phrasing multi-layered, allowing us to hear and dance them as we see fit. Then onto some discussion of the things I mentioned in my last two posts.
  14. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Onto Firpo’s, Di Sarli’s, and D’Arienzo’s interpretation of Section C.

    Section C (pickup to bar 25-40)


    Firpo plays Section C twice, at :47-1:11 and 1:57-2:20. He interprets Section C simply, as he did with the other sections. The style is the same: crisp, marcato playing by bandoneons with simple piano accompaniment and fills when the melody pauses. The melody is played marcato by bandoneons with an emphasis on beat one.

    Section C1 :)47-1:11, pickup to bar 25-40)

    Phrase 1 :)47-:53, pickup to bar 25-28 ): In addition to the marcato melody played by bandoneons, the piano plays continuous sixteenth notes, from a low note, rising upwards in a scale-based pattern. The dynamic is forte, so it is quite prominent. The piano pays this pattern throughout the Q&A and it helps to clearly identify the beginning of the new section.

    Phrase 2 :)53-:59, pickup to bar 29-32): Phrase 2 is mostly bandoneons; the piano is less active, there are fewer notes and they are spread out mores. There is a nice decrescendo throughout the Answer, during the melody’s triple sixteenth-eight note repeating rhythmic pattern.

    Phrase 3 :)59-1:05, pickup to bar 33-36) and Phrase 4 (1:05-1:11, pickup to bar 37-40): There are some differences between Phrase 3 and Phrase 1. Although the melody is played the same – marcato bandoneons – the piano does not play the ascending sixteenth note scale-based pattern. During the phrase the piano contributes to the habanera 2 rhythm and sometimes plays the habanera 1 pattern in the bass register. This occurs throughout Phrase 3 and 4.

    Section C2 (1:57-2:20, pickup to bar 25-40)

    I’ll just point out the differences between Section C1 and Section C2. Once again, the melody is played by the bandoneons, but this time less crisply, less marcato. The biggest difference between C2 and C1 is the new counter melody, played by solo violin. It is prominently played throughout Section C2. It is slow and lyrical and generally rises in pitch. The counter melody’s rhythm, melodic shape, and phrasing effectively capture and contribute to the happy, somewhat darker character shifts of the phrases.

    As the section nears its end, the violin drops out and the perfect V7-I cadence is played by bandoneons and piano. Throughout Section C2 the piano functions to fill out the harmonies and adds short fills when the melody pauses or sustains a single note. It plays various rhythms, bits from both habanera patterns, and maintains the beat, sometimes playing chords on every beat.

    Di Sarli

    Di Sarli plays Section C once, at 1:38-2:11. His interpretation is unique and very effectively captures the character of each phrase, through instrumentation changes, rhythms, and melodic phrasing.

    Phrase 1 (1:38-1:46, pickup to bar 25-28 ): There is a very sudden, obvious character change to relaxed happiness, achieved several ways. The melody is played by the piano and it is an octave high than Villoldo wrote it. The notes have the same names but are eight steps higher in pitch. This instantly brightens the sound and mood. There is kind of music box quality to the sound. The playing is lyrical and legato – the notes are connected smoothly - and there is more or less continuous sound with no noticeable breaks between the Q&A. Below the lyrical piano melody the bandoneons and piano play the first two notes of habanera 2, very crisply, in a repeating rhythmic pattern; a sharp contrast to the legato piano melody. The bass sometimes plays habanera 1.

    Phrase 2 (1:46-1:54, pickup to bar 29-32): Instantly the texture changes from thin to thick. There is a lush, full sound, as the melody and harmonies are played by the strings. The melody is still very smooth and legato. The Answer ‘s triplet sixteenth-eighth pattern is not played, contributing to the smooth sound quality. The bandoneons function the same as in Phrase 1.

    Phrase 3 (1:54-2:02, pickup to bar 33-36): Phrase 3 is not significantly different than Phrase 1.

    Phrase 4 (2:02-2:11, pickup to bar 37-40): The Question is the same as the Question in Phrase 2 – lush strings. The Answer this time is played by the bandoneons, and very marcato. This is a very noticeable character difference and serves to end the section conclusively.

    I’ll simply repeat what I wrote about Di Sarli before: Di Sarli’s Section C is more elaborate, more changes in texture, dynamics, and phrasing – sometimes smooth & lyrical, sometimes marcato. That’s what we saw in Section A and B too: Firpo is simple, close to the sheet music, Di Sarli is more varied and layered.


    D’Arienzo plays Section C once, from (1:01-1:32). His playing is almost consistently thick – most instruments are playing at the same time.

    Phrase 1 (1:01-1:09, pickup to bar 25-28 ): The melody is played by bandoneons in a somewhat connected style, still marcato but gently so. The melody does not use the triplet sixteenth-eighth rhythm. Instead there is just an eighth note on the beat. This makes the phrase less sharp, it softens it. An interesting thing happens in the Answer, actually starting as the Question ends, from bea t 1 in bar 26 through beat 2 in bar 28. The melody is not played. Instead there is a piano solo, playing continuous notes in a scale pattern. Its rhythm is very different than anything we have heard before. Almost always, up to now, the beat has been subdivided into 2 or 4 counts (eighths or sixteenths). The melody now divides the beat into triplets, into 3 sub-beat counts. The effect is like a syncopation (even though strictly speaking it is not syncopation) because we are thrown from the familiar 2 or 4 count into a 3 count. Underneath the piano solo the bandoneons and bass mark the four count, making the triplet piano playing stand out as much as possible. Hard to describe the effect, but it is very noticeable when heard.

    Phrase 2 (1:09-1:17, pickup to bar 29-32): Like Di Sarli, D’Arienzo plays this phrase with a lush, full sound. Even more so, because he includes the bandoneons too. The triplet sixteenth-eighth pattern of the Answer is replaced by two eighth notes, making the melody smoother and less crisp than Villoldo intended. (Di Sarli did the same). The texture lightens up, the bandoneons drop out, and there is a nice decrescendo by the strings, creating a distinct Answer quality.

    Phrase 3 (1:17-1:25, pickup to bar 33-36): Phrase 3 is much the same as Phrase 1. Bandoneons play the melody the same way. There is new counter melody played by solo violin. It is not very interesting, simply playing long held notes, changing pitch on beats one and sometimes 2. (It sounds like a bee buzzing along – way too much vibrato - fluctuating the pitch below and above the actual pitch - for my taste). Overall its melodic shape is sideways – uneventful. There is no piano solo during the Answer this time. Instead there is only the solo violin. Mostly there is silence and a very thin sound, a sharp contrast to Phrase 1. The Answer’s melody is once again not played.

    Phrase 4 (1:25-1:33, pickup to bar 37-40): Phrase 4 is quite different than Phrase 2. It is thinner in texture, does not use the full orchestra, but the bandoneons play chords, filling out the harmonies and the sound. The Sections ends with no real emphasis. There is no attempt to create a feeling of completion – it simply ends with the same instrumentation and character heard throughout the phrase.

    To repeat: D’Arienzo is once again the most varied in terms of his use of melodic elaboration, rhythm and syncopation, instrumentation, and texture.

    Next time I’ll look at an alternate way to hear the phrases. Each section may be split into two 8 bar phrases, with their own 4 bar Q&As. Those 4 bar Q&As are what I have called Phrases 1-4. I have further split each of these into two bar Q&As. Doing so has made the discussion very granular and detailed- I zoomed in about as much as possible. Next time I’ll step back a level.
  15. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    This post will present a bigger picture view of the phrasing in El Choclo. Each 16 bar section can be divided into two 8 bar phrases, with 4 bar Q&As. And those 4 bar Q&A’s have their own 2 bar Q&As. I won't be talking about those again. The second 8 bar phrase may even be an answer to the first 8 bar phrase. It is in Section A, not really in the others. This structure is very common in tango music. (Personally, I hear and dance to 4 bar phrases – not just in El Choclo but in general. There is a reason the 8CB is 8 counts, not 6 or 10…).

    I’ll discuss three musical areas/techniques which I believe greatly contribute to the multi-level phrasing in El Choclo: Melodic Shape, Rhythmic Patterns (including the use of rests), and Harmonies and Keys. This post will look at the sheet music only and be somewhat technical. Another time I will talk about the ways the three orquestras bring out the phrasing in the bigger picture, ie through instrumentation, dynamic changes, etc.

    Section A (pickup to bar 1-16)
    For this discussion I need to redefine phrase lengths. Phrase 1 in Section A is now from the pickup to bar 1 through bar 8. Its Question is the first four bars; the Answer, the next four bars. Phrase 2 is now from the pickup to bar 9 through bar 16. Its Question is the four bars from 9-12; the Answer, the four bars from 13-16.

    Phrase 1, the Question (pickup to bar 1-4): The melodic shape is convex – rising then falling, but ending a 5th above the start. The entire Question is built on the tonic chord, d minor, until the very end, beat 1 in bar 4. Here the harmony is the dominant 7th, A7. Rhythmically speaking, the melody is almost continuous sixteenth notes with short rests separating the two bar sub Q&As. Rhythmic patterns help somewhat in defining the four bar Question, but because there are two of them, not so much. This is true in Phrase 2 also. So, taken together, these things accomplish a Question quality to my ears. The melodic shape, importantly, ending higher than it started, and the shift to an unstable harmony (dominant 7th) leaves a feeling of a statement posed and awaiting a response.

    Phrase 1, the Answer (pickup to bar 5-8 ): The melodic shape is also convex – rising higher than it did in the Question, then falling, ending a 4th above the start. The entire Answer is built on the dominant 7th chord, until the very end, beat 1 in bar 8. Here the dominant 7th resolves to the tonic, d minor. Phrase 1 is a perfect cadence (i-V7-i), divided into four bar Q&As to accentuate the Q&A feeling. Questions aren’t necessarily bold; Answers not necessarily subdued. That is a frequent pattern, but I think in this Phrase both the Question and Answer are bold, and the Answer quite a bit more bold than the Question; because the melody rises higher and the underlying harmony is less stable, more dramatic. It will of course depend on how the music is arranged and interpreted. It is entirely possible to make the Answer sound less bold than the question, through dynamics or texture changes. Something to note as we get into the playing of the music.

    So, taken together, these things accomplish a Question and Answer quality to my ears and establish these eight bars as a unique phrase.

    Phrase 2, the Question (pickup to bar 9-12): The melodic shape is mostly rising, ending a 9th (an octave plus one step) above the start. The Question begins on the tonic chord, d minor, then modulates to the subdominant, g minor, with a V7-i cadence in g minor happening in bars 11-12. The Question ends on the subdominant harmony, a closely related chord in d minor but with some tension. The rising melody and harmonic changes make this a more penetrating question to my ears. It boldly makes a statement and raises the drama and intensity of the music.

    Phrase 2, the Answer (pickup to bar 13-16): The melodic shape declines at first then basically goes sideways. The harmonies change every bar. The Answer begins where the Question left off, on the subdominant (iv, g minor). It then moves to the tonic (d minor) then a dominant 7th (A7), then resolves to the tonic at the section’s conclusion. The rhythm here has more of role than previously. The Answer does not stop – there are continuous sixteenth notes, with a couple triplet sixteenth note patterns too. The non-stop melody and its primarily sideways shape make these four bars softer, more restrained, than the Question. And again there is a distinct eight bar phrase, clearly defined in the music and recognizable to our ears.

    Section B (pickup to bar 17-24, then a repeat). The phrase is repeated. How distinct, or not, the repeat is will depend on how it is played.

    Phrase 1 (and 2), the Question (pickup to bar 17-20): The melodic shape is down. The harmonies alternate between V7 and I in F major. The rhythmic pattern in bar 17 is heard three times, repeated in the two in succeeding bars. Declining melodies tend to decrescendo and become softer, gentler in character. Repeating the rhythm helps establish that character too. The tension-resolution of the V7-I harmonies masks this somewhat. Again, how we hear the Question will depend on how it is played.

    Phrase 1 (and 2), the Answer (pickup to bar 21-24): The melodic shape is concave – it falls then rises. Rhythmically, the first bar repeats the pattern heard three times in the Answer. Then there is a very distinct rhythmic change in bar 22. The melody is half the speed (an eighth note) and a quarter of the speed (a quarter note), rather than the predominant sixteenths heard so far. The effect is like putting on the brakes. The Answer ends with continuous sixteenth notes as the melody falls then rises, to end an octave higher than the Answer started. Harmonically, the Answer abruptly changes back to d minor, on the dominant 7th chord. As the melody’s rhythm abruptly slows down in bar 22, the V7 chord resolves to d minor, further making this bar the most important one in defining the Phrase. Bar 23 abruptly changes to Vii7 (G# diminshed 7) of A major, a distant key to the section’s start in F major. The melody at first declines then rises as the diminished 7th chord resolves to A major, at the melody’s peak. The Answer begins somewhat gently then becomes very bold and assertive by its end.

    Section C (pickup to bar 25-40)

    Phrase 1, the Question (pickup to bar 25-32): The melodc shape rises, falls, rises, falls in arpeggios. The second series of rise/fall happens on a lower pitch. The rhythmic pattern from the pickup to bar 25 through beat 1 in bar 26 is repeated. The Question begins with modulation to D major, on the tonic chord. Then we hear the dominant 7th (A7) for two bars and its resolution back to the tonic at the Question’s end. So once again there is a perfect cadence within the Question (like Section A, Phrase 1). The music is brighter, optimistic sounding, because of these things.

    Phrase 1, the Answer (pickup to bar 33-40): The melody falls then rises in bars 29-30. Then it descends for the remainder of the phrase, from 31-32. Rhythmically, there is a return to continuous sixteenth notes as the melody falls then rises. The rhythmic pattern from the pickup to 31 until the end of beat one in bar 31 is heard twice, the second time at a lower pitch. And there are rests separating and defining them. The harmonies have modulated to e minor, the supertonic in D major (the second note in the scale). We first hear the dominant 7th of e minor (B7) in bar 29 and its resolution to the tonic, e minor, in bar 30. Bar 31 modulates to A major, and again there is first the dominant 7th (E7) then resolution to A major in bars 31-32. The Answer quality is again very apparent. It has some tension and sense of development as the rhythmic pattern repeats at a lower pitch and the underlying harmonies modulate twice. But to my ears there is very much a sense of resignation and change from the happy natured Question. Together, the Q&A make a clearly defined phrase.

    The Question in Phrase 2 (pickup to bar 33-36) is exactly the same as the Question in Phrase 1.

    The Answer in Phrase 2 (pickup to bar 37-40) is mostly the same as the Answer in Phrase 1. The difference being the rhythmic pattern in the last two bars of Phrase 1 is not played. Instead there are continuous sixteenth notes, moving sideways, as the Section concludes.

    Have a listen to Firpo, Di Sarli, and D’Arienzo and keep these things in mind…or at least make an effort to hear four bar Q&As and eight bar phrases. I post some other time what I’ve observed in their interpretations which help, or detract, from hearing the bigger picture.
  16. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I've noticed there are lots of "Guests" reading this thread. Some of these viewers simply have not logged-in, others perhaps are not registered members. I encourage unregistered guests to register! If you do not wish to do so you can contact me directly at tango.monkey1@gmail.com.

    Anyone can use that address to contact me. Please do so!
  17. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Ok, so I checked out this post as a Guest and saw that only registered members can see my email address. Oops.

    Here it is: tango.monkey1 at gmail.com.

    The forum automatically makes email addresses available only to registered members so I had to disguise it. Replace the "at" with @ and don't include the spaces surrounding it
  18. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Comparing D'Arienzo's El Choclo from 1937 & 1954

    Here's a very brief comparison of just one feature of D'Arienzo's recordings of El Choclo from 1937 & 1954. I gather that there are at least two other versions, but I have not heard them. It has been claimed, elsewhere, that these two performances are very similar indeed, and while I would readily agree that they both inhabit D'Arienzo's highly distinctive soundworld, there are some startling differences, which would call for a different treatment in dancing the two versions. Here's just one, as a token of bona fides:

    Let's just consider the first two full bars. He repeats this idea several times, so it is relevant to us as we start to dance, even if we have let the first phrase or two go by while taking up the embrace and getting ready to dance.

    In 1937 we hear something that is not in the piano reduction: silence.

    The melody is played out in semi-quavers (sixteenth notes) to an accompaniment of quavers (eigth notes). The melody is played in pairs of notes (and the piano reduction is so marked too), and the first musical phrase, ignoring the anacrusis, fills 1 1/2 bars (or three crochets/ quarter notes), before the anacrucis that starts the second phrase. Except that in the 1937 version, the first bar is as expected, but then after one more pair of notes, the phrase ends - the last quaver (eigth note) just isn't there, not in the melody, and not in the accompaniment. Silence.

    If we were dancing, and starting with perhaps just simple forward walks, matching the slow crochet (quarter note) underlying pulse of the music, we might very well 'feel' "Walk, Walk, Stop!". There is a solo piano flourish, that links the phrases, but it is absent in the piano reduction. We probably initially think that we 'hear' the end of the phrase though, because El Choclo is a very well known tango, and we can all hum its melody, but the orchestra doesn't play it.

    Now listen to the same passage in 1954. The whole 1 1/2 bar phrase is this time played through, and with a crafty syncopation achieved by accenting the second quaver of the second bar (the last note of the phrase), when the 'natural' accent would have been the note preceding it.

    If we were dancing, we would certainly no longer feel "Walk, Walk, Stop!", but perhaps three walks and a quick foot close with a weight change, which we might time "Slow, Slow, Quick Quick". The music cries out for four movements/actions, in the time of the earlier version's three.

    No doubt, more interesting ways of starting the dance could be found by those more experienced than me, but the differences in the rhythmic treatment of the piece just abound, throughout. My personal view is that an analysis that misses something that ought to be perfectly apparent to anyone, regardless of their musical training, is going to be of very little usefulness to dancers, who, for the most part, have little or no musical training.

    Now I really am done with this topic, and I'm going out -to dance.
  19. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Thanks for posting your thoughts here UKDancer.

    Are you "really done", or do you plan to post some more? I'll respond (politely :)) once you have said all you intend to say about these two versions.
  20. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    No, I'm done.

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