Tango Argentino > Open Embrace is an Oxymoron and Tango-fusion is Gibberish

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by tangomonkey, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I started to write about this, and i realized that i am sounding suspiciously like the textbook in dead poets society - not a good sign ;):
    "To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem's perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining a poem's greatness becomes a relatively simple matter."

    Lets think about what Zoo said above: the joy of dance is to "...discover both the music and each other"

    I think there are are two different things to discover about each other (and ourselves) - our musicality, our personal relationship and interpretation of the music, and our physicality, our mastery of our bodies and the physics of dance.

    I think we can thing of dance as a mixture of these two goals.

    If we want to explore our individual and shared relationship with the music we need a certain degree of complexity in the music -it is about us dealing with the flow of the music as a gestalt, and we need to use vocabulary that is very in the moment to allow us to work together on any changes of the music, and surprises that our partner offers in their interpretation of the music.

    If we want to explore our individual and shared relationship with we need a certain degree of complexity in the movement vocabulary - it is about us overcoming/playing with physics using strength, timing and teamwork, and we need to use music that does not get into the way of that - we are working together through movement puzzles, and the music should not distract from that.

    And a lot of electro tango that gives us a strong, reliable beat, and does not distract from that allows us to play with things are chained 5, 6, ten, howevermany steps, there will never be a moment where we will feel "i really should have hit that phrasing", or "we are getting back to the A part - i wonder if my partner thinks about this the same way as the first time?" or "why is there a break here" - it is in some sense more supportive of exploration of movement - we can follow our partners physicality instead of their musicality.
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  2. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Usually you and I are in agreement, but this time, I totally disagree with you on most of your post. I think you are WAY too much in your head with all this.

    If those are really the only things you discover about your partner while dancing, I'd be surprised given your experience and skills. I discover quite a bit about who the person IS, not just how they move and how they hear the music.

    My 1st teacher always said "Whatever you are, you'll be MORE that in Tango". I think that was just about the wisest, most insightful comment I've ever heard about Tango.

    My goal is expression. Pure and simple. I can go to the gym to master my body (or not... my body doesn't seem to want to be mastered) In any artistic endeavor (and I've tried many: painting, photography, acting, designing, skating, etc) my goal is simply to express something. Whether that be who I am, what I'm feeling, how something I see moves me, whatever.... it's all about expressing something inside.

    That's my goal in dancing.. it doesn't matter what kind of dance it is.

    The challenge and the fun of partner dancing is meshing what you want to express with another person, and possibly having that person influence, maybe even change, what you are hoping to "say".

    All the rest is just academic and a means to an end, not the goal itself. So yes, I think you're being a little textbook, where you could really use some Robin Williams style inspiration.

    And we all know that "Oh Captain, our Captain" hit the nail on the head: for many guys, the goal is to woo women, right? ;)

    Again disagree. It's like saying that exotic positions and calisthenics in sex will create a stronger emotional bond between the partners than simple love-making. They are 2 totally different things. Fun, yes. The goal? Sometimes, maybe.. but certainly not always.

    And I think the old milongueros would disagree as well about "complexity of movement" too. Omar Vega told us a story one time. (I can't get it exactly right, but you'll get the meaning):

    A beginner does 5 steps.
    An intermediate dancer does 10 steps.
    An advanced dancer does 25 steps.
    A show dancer does 50 steps.
    A milonguero does 5 steps.

    Complexity is great. It's fun sometimes. But it's only one way to explore the relationship. And gets us back to that basic premise. There are MANY more things to discover about your partner and explore with them than the 2 you listed.

    Sometimes the simplest most sublime music can facilitate it better, and sometimes not. Sometimes simple basic movements are all you want or need. (For example, with Waltz, I'd much rather the leader keep it simple doing the same basic steps over and over as long as it keeps MOVING, than have him get all complex. The magic of waltz is in the flow. Even something as common as the parada/pasada combination interrupts it.)
  3. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I don’t think that is so…a little too contrived for my taste. On the dance floor, at my best, I am not at all like the person I am during my day-to-day existence. But maybe that's what you mean...we our our best selves on the floor?

    Yes! This is the essence of artistry. Artistic goals are always ways to express emotions.

    Yes, again, nicely said.

    Well, how’d that end for him? Balance the academic and the inspirational. The academic can be (and is for me) a driver of inspiration.

    Beginner karate students have white belts. Black belts eventually turn white, after years of practice, wear and tear. When the black belt turns somewhat white the practitioner has returned to the beginner mind. This process is the way artistic pursuits develop - from ignorance to expertise, which has a simplicity, yet total mastery of the art (dance, musical performance, martial art, etc.)
  4. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Yes, of course....agreed!

    Again, a strawman point, as far as anything I have claimed. I'm not "pretending". I mean what I say. And - I really don't know why people have to go off on these non sequiturs - nowhere have I said "only" - in fact, numerous times I have explicitly said "for me". Music matters - junk is junk and deserves no respect from ME - others are free to like what they like.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    (emphasis mine)

    Not everyone is "at their best" on the dance floor. IME, my teacher was dead on in his assessment. People's traits are exaggerated in Tango... their best traits and their worst.. .and everything in between. Petty people are even more petty. Insecure people are made even more insecure. Happy people are even more joyous. Generous people are kinder.

    That's been my experience. Your mileage may vary in your community. I have made a conscious effort to overcome my worst traits and be my best self to others in tango, but I am aware that ALL my traits and emotions seem to get magnified when I go out to a tango event.

    I think it might just be the nature of artistic expression in a group endeavor. I've seen similar things in theater (but I expect them there). The teacher who said that hadn't spent a lot of time in other creative communities, so to him it was a feature of Tango.
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  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Even while saying that you haven't made any claims, etc, you are still disparaging "junk" music. Other people are free to like it, but it's still "junk". You aren't stating your opinion here as an opinion... you are stating it as FACT.

    "Junk is junk." That doesn't sound like you are meaning "for me".. it sounds like an assessment that is meant to be taken as MORE than just your own feelings about it. Even while saying that the thread title is tongue in cheek, you defended it by saying that certain music is "gibberish" and you can prove it.

    Your posts don't read as you might intend them. Whatever your exact words may be, they read with an attitude that is disparaging. Generally, that's not a good way to get people to open up to answer your question. Then I tried to do so anyway (after initially telling myself I wasn't going to bother with the thread) and you say I'm going off on a non-sequitur, which just feels like another attempt to shut down the conversation you originally posted wanting to have.

    You post to a public forum, you have to deal with the discussion of ideas, and possible expansion of the discussion. You asked why people like alternative music and open embrace (I'm going to keep calling it that, because it's terminology that we all understand the meaning of) and I gave MY opinion on both of those things and the way some people react to them. It's every bit as valid as you posting your opinions.

    But I thank you for your other, more positive words in response to my posts.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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  7. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    No, never said I can "prove" it, since no artistic opinions can be proven. I said I could make a very detailed musical case, which one could simply ignore (as no doubt most would), maybe learn something from, or counter argue the points. I'm not making a claim to authority - asking people to accept my musical judgement because I have the expertise to make one - I am saying I have spent time carefully listening to electrotrango, specifically, and found it very wanting, and I can back it up, offering support for why I hold the opinion I do. My conclusions seem to be held by others who have posted in this thread.

    Only after the words "pretending" and "only" were used, which I read as applying very specifically to me, not just in general. Maybe I misinterpreted... And my response to that particular paragraph does not shut down further discussion.

    Yes, of course, and thank you.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
    Gssh likes this.
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Of course this is academic - like in any artistic endeavor the core is an experience that is completely individual and only in that moment, and an unique personal expression. And think that tango likewise only exist in that moment, with that partner, with that music, with that dancefloor around us. And that end is personal and unique.
    But i think the challenge tangomonkey gave us is about the means. There is different means, and there is something to be said about the differences in the mean, even if the end is the same - just like we think of painting, photography and woodcuts as different means, with different strengths.
    I personally am currently doing the cliche "close embrace, scratchy music works best" thing for myself, and but i have done other things in the past, and will likely do other things in the future again, and i think it is interesting to ask myself what has changed for myself that made me change the means - if we only look at the end of artistic expression at its most basic there is no need to change means, and we should be content with our first medium (making sandpies? making out parents pick up things we toss out of the crib over and over again?).
    I have had (and still have) amazing dances in the openest of open embraces (up to and including letting go of the embrace sometimes) dancing to electro tango, and i am spending a lot of time trying to convince people who prefer dancing open and to electro tango to try to give close embrace and traditional tango a fair try, and i usually ask them to think of it as a completely different dance, with different strengths and weaknesses, instead of a suffocating version of the dance they love where they are "not allowed" to express the full range of themselves because 9/10 of what they want to say is "illegal".
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  9. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    "scratchy music works best"

    Hey, we work tireless hours to make it all less scratchy!
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  10. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    When I hear clear tango music, I feel something missing. :cool:
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  11. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I love your attitude, Gssh. I go through periods where I like one thing over another or I'm craving a specific style, but I'll often get all of it during one milonga and I'm a happy camper. I love the diversity you can find within tango. Why disparage styles other people enjoy? If you don't like open embrace, don't do it. If you don't like scratchy traditional music, don't dance to it.
  13. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I stay away from perfection in sound and dancing. :D
    My only goal is to feel perfect. :play:
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  14. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Thanks for the description and thoughtful elaboration in the entire post from which this quote is extracted.

    But, doesn't the fist part above - complexity in the music - not mesh with the second? Doesn't the strong, reliable beat actual simplify the music?
  15. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Yes, the means matters. And for me there was a narrowing down to the things (the means) I most enjoy, which allow me (us) to achieve the ends (as you have described them previously) most consistently. (I've made similar narrowing down in others aspects in my life).

    I'm happy for you!
  16. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't say that strong reliable beat simplifies the music per se.
    There are tango orchestra having strong beat but their music wasn't so simple (Biagi).
    But if you have consistent beat through out the song without layering that it makes it simple.

    The additional things is that how modern music is made, is made to be perfect.
    The song making is different than it used to be.
    George Marting (The Beatles) created producing the song of recorded material and songs are different.
    When you listen modern pop music, You don't record whole song in a piece.
    You record it and than produce it from what was recorded.
    That means that you get certain parts that are copied to many places during the song.
    Even back vocals are not recorded the way it used to be.

    So the new songs are artificially richer, but in essence they are shallow.
    We have less music in the song that we used to have.

    When I listen to traditional tango song I hear the rhythm but also the nuance of the beat.
    And the more you listen and focus you only hear more and more, and want more and more.
    On the contrary with new songs you reach the limit of songs quite soon and they become boring.
    What attracted you at first become repulsive.
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  17. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I meant: strong, reliable, and continuous beat. In other words, a clearly heard beat from start to end (more or less, maybe a break at cadences), similar to what you describe. And that is characteristic of electotango.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Strong, continuous, audible beat, right?
    Isn't the beat always there even when you can't hear it?
    Now, THAT is something I just read is understood in African music.

    (OK, I see you qualified it in the next sentence.)
  19. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Yes, and necessarily so.
  20. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think it (often, but not neccessarily?) does. I intended the two parts you cited to be close to the endpoints of a range of potential means of exploration/expression -
    on one end the exploration of music, and on the other hand the exploration of bodies.

    Maybe the better end points would have been on one hand a exercise that homer used to do, where he asked us to stand next to each other, and listen to the music, and sing to each other - an exercise that is all about hearing, communicating to each what we hear, and harmonizing (and dis-harmonizing) with each other.
    And on the other hand practicing vocabulary without any music at all, just listening to each other bodies.

    Both these extremes have not much to do with dancing, but the first is musicality focused, the second physicality focused.

    I think in reality all enjoyable dancing requires both musicality and physicality, and these might be two axes, not one, but i think to get back to the electro tango question i think reduced complexity in the music leads to a stronger emphasis on physicality, and in the reverse reduced complexity in the physicality leads to a stronger emphasis on musicality - simply because we need to do a certain amount of "stuff" to keep each other entertained, and if we use less from one column we will be tempted to use more from the other (of course everybody does both, but at most times we will - due the the music playing, who we are dancing with, where we are, how our day was, anything - favor one or the other). This is not really a value judgement - it is just a different thing.

    It becomes problematic when we are trying to use a tool for something that it is not good at - if my partner and i practice the singing exercise with only a metronome in the background it is going to be difficult unless we start making things up from scratch, and then we are doing something quite different than what we would be doing if we were improvising over a more structured, complex background. Of course if we had a strong shared set of vocabulary and preconceptions about what should be happening it works again, but then we are again improvising over a complex background, it is just in our heads. So complexity of vocabulary can supplement the complexity of the music.

    This is again almost purely academic, and a somewhat arbitrary framework, but i think it is a interesting exercise - there are good dancers who do all kinds of different things, and they all manage to express themselves - there are a lot of different means to get to the same end - but the risk of tango as a partner dance is that if we don't agree on the means we can not work together to get to the end. And i think it is interesting to think about what means are available, and what maybe works for us right now, what we can try out, what teachers are trying to talk about.

    While cats are awful at being dogs they are usually pretty good at being cats ;)
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