Tango Argentino > HELP no can do at close embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by aaah, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I think most people do parallel in milonga because they have been taught, or learned that they were supposed to do lots of "quick" steps, or traspie as it is sometimes called. I always tell people they should concentrate on the strong 2 beats per measure indicated in the 2/4 time signature of most milongas. (This echoes what I heard from most most influential teacher.)
    Traspie, the quicks, are the icing on the cake, not the main course. If you make it the main course, then you have to leave something else out to make it danceable - "crossed system".
    People also say: "no ochos" in milonga, "no pauses" in milonga, etc. I disagree with them.
    Sure the musicians hit normally unstressed beats which are between the 2 strong beats. That doesn't mean you have to dance them all the time. You can then explore other things that most people don't do.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Regarding syncopation... I've decided that when I take that extra step, I am stressing a normally unstressed space in the music. That means that I AM.....
    dchester, bring it!
    Don't leave us with just one post!
  3. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member


    And i still believe that there is a subtle difference between a syncopation and a double time - a syncopation is a syncopation because it is swung, the singletime is not split evenly, whereas a doubletime is not a syncopation because it splits the single time evenly.

  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    What I've been taught is that the syncopation takes place in the interval between the double time and the beat.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    In every tango class that I've ever been in, when the teachers talked about syncopation, they were simply refering to quick steps (steps that take half as long to do, or double steps). Now in classes on Milonga, instead of calling the quick steps syncopation, they call it traspie.

    The concept of syncopation in music is something different. The general idea is that the normally accepted (sometimes called strong) beats are not stressed, and instead some other (sometimes called weak) beats are stressed. I'll try to give a simple example of what I'm talking about (although there are many other more complicated forms of syncopation in music).

    First to set things up, and give us a common reference frame, let's talk about a "measure" of music. In this example, we'll define our measure as have 4 strong beats (4/4 time if you're a musician). The 4 beats are called quarter notes, thus 4 quarter notes make one measure. Also, in our example, each quarter note represents one SLOW step in tango. In this example we could also have quick beats, which in music would be called eighth notes. Two eighth notes take the same amount of time as one quarter note, and similarly, two quick steps take the same amount of time as one slow step. The other thing we can have in music is where no note is played (called a rest), and a similar thing in tango is called a pause.

    So now (musically) we could have some different measures like:
    quarter       - quarter  -  quarter       -  quarter
    eighth-eighth - quarter  -  eighth-eighth - quarter
    quarter       - quarter  -  eighth-eighth -  quarter
    quarter       - quarter  -  quarter       -  rest
    In tango, the steps for the above four measures would correspond to:
    Slow        -  Slow  -  slow        -  Slow  
    quick-quick -  Slow  -  quick-quick -  Slow  
    Slow        -  Slow  -  quick-quick -  Slow
    Slow        -  Slow  -  Slow        -  pause
    (BTW, the above might work to the song, Bahia Blanca by Disarli)
    OK, none of this stuff has syncopation in the [B]musical[/B] sense.  
    This is because the quick steps were done in pairs, 
    thus the strong beat were always stressed 
    (in each pair of quicks above, the first quick is the strong beat, 
    where as the second quick is the weak beat).  
    strong - ~weak~ - strong - ~weak~ - strong - ~weak~ - strong - ~weak~
    eighth - eighth - eighth - eighth - eighth - eighth - eighth - eighth
    Slow              Slow              Slow              Slow
    Now for an example of a measure where the strong beats are not stressed. 
    strong - weak - strong  -  weak - strong  -  weak - strong  -  weak
    eighth - quarter        -  quarter        -  quarter        -  eighth
    If you add it all up, you get a complete measure, but the timing is different. The start of the three quarter notes (along with the last eighth note) is on the weak beat. When I get some time, I'll have to look for a song that does something like this, so I can post an example. I suspect it's probably still not clear what I'm trying to explain, but at least I gave it another shot.
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I just think of syncopation (in dance) as a step on the "and" count of the music, as in, between the beat.

    I think of traspie as making use of the candombe rhythm: 1, ah 2, and 3, ah 4.

    Could be correct, could be wrong. Everyone seems to have wildly varying definitions. I've given up caring. My definition makes sense to me.

    I think of syncopation differently for dancing than I do in music (non-primary beats being stressed).
  7. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i'M amazed; firstly I understand it and secondly i think you could be right.

    Bu to add confusion I also thonk Peaches is right; where a beat other than one or three are accented then its Peachsyncopation. I know a version of La Trampera where its like that and fun to dance to; lots of shoulder movement as its milonga or the chicken-wing movement.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    ...which is what I've heard called contratiempo.

    ...and this is why I've given up caring. Especially since I'm a follower...I just let the lead figure that stuff out, and just go along with him! :-D

    (Also since I hear and think of music entirely differently when it's in a dance--particularly AT--context than when I listen in a musical context.)
  9. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm assuming that in addition to stepping on the "ah" you also stepped on the 1. If so, the 1 and the "ah" are the quick steps, the 2 is a slow. In milonga, they call it traspie.

    If you were stepping on the "ah"s without stepping on the 2, 3, and 4, that would be syncopation in the musical sense.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    *shrug* I have a hard time thinking in quicks and slows in AT. I just don't hear and feel and process the music that way.

    I step on: 1, ah, 2, and, 3, ah, 4. (If I find a guy who leads that. I can only think of one or two people who do, and they're teachers, and generally don't dance with me.)
  11. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    I agree with Gssh. Double time is straight division, syncopation is swung. Both straight and swung time divisions occur in the music that we dance tango to. Especially in milonga. Right now playing in the background is D'Arienzo's El Esquinazo. The double time and the syncopations in the music are quite clear. I tend think of traspie as syncopated, not merely double time.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Everyone thinks of it a bit differently. I heard someone else describe tango as a combination of ones and threes. Eventually I figured out that for him, the one was a slow, and a three was a quick, quick, slow (or a 1, ah, 2).

  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    well i try but with my dinosaur brain if I want to dance on any of the ahs by the time the signal reaches my feet we're in the next bar. I can dance on half beats if the rhythm is regular or I know its coming from familiarity, but the fast running steps (corridas) in milonga are a bit beyond me. (yet)
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I find the traspie/dancing on "ah's" to be easier. Possibly because that's how I first learned milonga.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    And to add to that there is the concept of swing/notes inegales (or what we use as traspie in milonga). Two eight notes take the same amoung of time as a quarter note, and they don't create a scyncopation if both eight notes have the same length. The big thing in jazz and ragtime (and milonga imho :) ) is the idea of swing. If a musician plays two eight notes and they take the same amount of time as a quarter note, and they are evenly spaced, he is playing "straight". no synchopation. there is nothing emphazised.
    The magic of jazz is that the musician don't play straight they play with swing, they delay and accelerate the rythm. So instead of playing two eigths, as written where they have both the same length they play a "long eight" and a "short eight", where one of the eigth is longer than the other (but they still add up to the same lenght as a quarter note), or in extreme cases they play a dotted eight and a sixteenth. And different members of the band will play with different degree of swing, creating tension due to the slight pull and push they give to each other by this.
    The syncopation does not happen due to emphasis ing the weak beat, but due to the fact that the irregularity in the rhythm emphasizes the deviation from the expected, regular rhythm.

    So what creates the dynamic of milonga is not doubletime (dancing quick, quick, but by doing traspie, a short quick and a long quick, so it is not di di di instead of da da , but didi dap).


    P.S. i have been looking up the entry for syncopation in wikipedia to make sure i get this right, and they mention the "anticipated bass" of son, where the bass comes syncopated shortly before the downbeat - this "short eight" and "long eight" seems to be closer to the milonga "short quick and long quick" than the swing pattern. I wonder if there is a historical relationship betwen them?
  16. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Well, I did say that there are many other more complicated forms of syncopation in music. I was just trying to explain a simple example. I'm not sure how good of a job I did, though.

    I must confess that I've never seen this short quick followed by a long quick that you described in a traspie. The didi dap to me seems like quick quick slow, but maybe it's just something I haven't been exposed to yet.
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I don't actually know if it can be seen - my main teachers for milonga are a couple (they studied with omar vega), and while he insists when talking about milonga that there is a difference between traspie and doble (his image is "traspie means stumble: You stumble, fall, and catch yourself very quickly, and the next step gets you back on the normal rhythm), i am not sure i can see it when he dances. I only understood it when i danced with her, and she spend multiple milongas yelling at me (while following as flawless as my leading allowed) "NO!" "NO!" "this is not it!" "NO" "too slow" "too rushed" "NO" - fond memories :). Then one day it clicked, and i was able to do it at least some of the time (and all i got was a very curt "better" - somehow it still balanced all the yelling :) :) ). I get the impression that followers feel the difference (and they tend to enjoy it (well, most of the do - there are a few who i can't do it with - they insist on their own rhythm, and dance dobles and not traspies, and then it feels like i am manhandling them, because i "push" them through their first quick faster than they decided on stepping, and its uncomfortable for both of us - i switch do dancing straight, but that beginning of the dance is very hard to make up for afterwards)), and i feel more in the music and the mood of milonga when i do it, but i think if i were to look at myself from the outside my patterns would look the pretty much the same.
    Followers - is this something that i am making up? We have talked about this quite a bit, and right now i have tried to find a youtube video where the difference is visible, but i can't find anything that would convince me if i assumed that it is just double time. I have been googling for syncopation a lot, too, and it seems that everybody insists that syncopation in dance is different than syncopation in music, and that it just means double time. And it is not like they are beginners, or bad dancers - the opposite. In a way it is a puzzle for me - it was taught to me as the cornerstone of what makes milonga con traspie milonga con traspie, and much better dancers than me do without that concept at all.

    DChester would you mind trying to experiment with this idea some time? Just rushing the first quick of the quick quick a little bit, and the delaying the second one to be back on the beat?

  18. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Please see my earlier comment re D'Arienzo's El Esquinazo. To my ear, you can quite clearly hear the straight double time and the swung time. There will be a passage with straight double time followed almost immediately by one really emphasizing the swung rhythm. Try tapping out the straight fours with one hand and then following the very prominent double time & the swung time with your other as they take turns being dominant. Unless you are a drummer, you will probably have no problem with the double time but will drop one hand when the swung time happens.
  19. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    In music, I've heard (and played) stuff like this and many other variations. I was trying to say that I hadn't seen someone dance that way (with a short quick and then long quick).
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I believe the common root may be the "habanera" rhythm aka Spanish tinge, Cakewalk, etc.
    Wikipedia has music notation for it, but I have seen, and will share, eventually when I get it done, the notation I found in the the Courlander article on Cakewalk, and "Early Jazz". "Black Music of Two Worlds" covered the same gorund, sort of, stating that this ryhthm is found throughout the new world among various Afrcian American groups and music they influenced.

    Syncopation is a tough one because it has so many meanings. The wikipedia article looks pretty good. Note that almost every sentence has a reference to what looks like a good book on the subject.

Share This Page