Tango Argentino > Teaching Musicality to tango dancers

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by bordertangoman, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Ok I've got Vals playing only to see what I can hear.
    Maybe it's the way the melody timing is played with over and above
    the typical argentine style soft rhythm. It certainly deceives the ear though for me the 3/4 time is still there even when unplayed.

    Alberto Paz has just been posting about the Vals on one of the Yahoo tango groups, here is an extract:

    there isn't a single piece of evidence of a tango vals ever being written, because the waltz was absolutely well defined in its structure since its arrival to South America in the late ninetenth century.

    The new generation of criollos that followed the 1870 immigration wave, added a telluric tone to the traditional waltz, and that gave birth to the Vals Criollo. The Creole Waltzes, composed by Latin American musicians preserved the characteristic and style of the Viennese waltz. It continued to be mainly a dance. It had three parts especially arranged for dancing.

    By the first decade of the twentieth century, composers in both Argentina and Uruguay wrote numerous valses which became part of the repertoire of the first tango orchestras. As Buenos Aires was becoming a city with its own personality, the valses composed during that period were acquiring that personality as well. The rapid growth of the city and an environment heavily influenced by the cadence of the tango added an authentic Buenos Aires melodic tone to the music of the Vals Criollo. While the “forbidden” tango was being played by guitars, flutes, violins, pianos and bandoneons at questionable places, the same instruments played the valsecitos for the decent families, at the weekly neighborhood social dances.

    The preference of the Buenos Aires musicians for the waltz over the other dances of the time, i.e. polkas, mazurkas, was due in part to the expression and nuances of its melody. Outstanding musicians who made it an integral part of their repertoire like Roberto Firpo, Juan Maglio “Pacho,” Francisco Canaro and Francisco Lomuto never called it tango vals. It was always called Vals criollo, or more affectionately called by the public, valsecito.


    I've never heard of telluric so using the dictionary I'm guessing a telluric tone is an earthy tone, whatever that means!

    With due credit again to Alberto Paz on the Argentine Tango Open Forum. The full post is here and the thread of course

    http: slash slash groups dot yahoo dot com slash group slash argentine-tango slash message slash 12685
  2. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    so this is interesting - mandragora tango has a whole bunch of sheet music (http://web.archive.org/web/20120307...dragoratango.com/sheetmusic/655TangosVol1.pdf,
    http://web.archive.org/web/20140910...dragoratango.com/sheetmusic/655TangosVol3.pdf), and just thumbing through the first bunch of valses they are all 3/4.

    Now i would still maintain that waltzes and valses have a noticably different rhythm, but now i don't know how to describe it anymore. Oh well, back to the drawing board. - i feel that emphasizing this difference in my dancing has made it work better - i now just have to figure out what i am actually doing.

    Thats what i like about DF - it keeps me from spending too much time in the echochamber of my own head :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2017
  3. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Of course this is another interesting question - if the ear gets deceived should the dance support that deception, or be with the "true" time?

  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    It could be that 3/4 time means less than you are thinking it does. You can have different rhythms that all could be considered 3/4.

    The important thing is that you understand it internally, and that's enough for it to be helpful for you. Being able to communicate it externally is only important if you are trying to teach it to others. There really are many ways of thinking of this stuff. You've found a way that works for you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2017
  5. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Or write posts on dance forums ....:D

  6. ant

    ant Member

    I never said a set of rules but a simple sentence to say that Tango music is normally made up of sets of eight beats and if a teacher recommends orchestras that best shows this in the music, that would be a good piece of instructiuon IMO.

    I had the same experience but I say that it is the teachers we had that should be ashamed of themselves and we should not look at their teaching methods as a model for future learning.

    There are four instruments it would take one or two sentences to say what you would normally expect them to do. I don't think it would freak them out, I think it would enlighten them. And again give them ideas of what music to listen too so that they can begin to appreciate and recognise the sounds each instrument makes.

    I don't think it would be a good idea to assume a person starting their Tango learning experience does not need some guidance with regard to the music they are hearing.
    Why do you associate that with a musical history or structure?
  7. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Gssh, it occurs to me that many leaders dance most often on either beat 1 or beats 1 and 3. I do anyway. I think most leaders step rarely on all three beats. Could this be what you are thinking about? Dancing on beats 1 & 3 gives it a swing or slow-quick feeling.
  8. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Both, but perhaps not at the same time!

    Though Rick McGarrey describes Milongueros as dancing the rhythm of Tango with their feet and the melody with the body. Sometimes I try but just not good enough yet to internalise that, too much thinking needed so far.

    Certainly many Vals have interesting cadences in both the melody and the pulse to be played with.
  9. borisvian13

    borisvian13 Member

    3/4 time by definition simply means that the total lenghth of each bar(measure) is 3/4 and that there is a strong time in the beginning of each bar(measure). It doesn't mean that each bar has 3 quarter notes in it. There might be innumerable different rhythmical patterns within 3/4 time, some involving syncopation, that is, accents in places different than the beginning of each bar(measure) or pauses where there should be an accent.

    The "ONE - - three-four...." that you hear is indeed quite a widespread pattern in tango vals and it happens during two bars(measures). So, don't worry, you hear it quite right:)
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    yes, and there are people in the AT world who do this

    Its hard to get a woman to rub up against you in a yoga class or on a hike.

    Seriously... I KNOW there are people in the tango community here who are in it for the social aspects, or because they want to show off something fancy and impress other people. They aren't moved to dance by something inside them that prevents them from sitting still when they hear music. Typically these people have no interest in any other type of dance.

    There are folks who are musical in tango and just have little interest in other partner dance styles, but it seems the ones who ignore the music and aren't moved by the music are NEVER interested in other dances. They chose tango precisely because they can come to tango events to dance and not worry about dancing to music. Its harder to get away with that in ballroom where the rhythm and how the the basic beginner patterns fit the rhythm are taught from day one. In fact, if they execute some fancy stuff, they might even impress beginners at a milonga!

    I attended a workshop once by one of my favorite teaching couples and they did a demonstration of "how many people in North America dance". The man proceeded to lead the woman in a variety of high flying boleos, ganchos, and show style moves while COMPLETELY ignoring the music. NOTHING he did was with the music (he mentioned later how hard it was for him to tune it out so he could be so completely NOT with it)

    I was laughing, rolling my eyes and shaking my head but other people were looking at me as though I was being inappropriate. When the song was over (which of course they didn't finish with the music) most everyone clapped and several people were like YEAH! That's what I want to learn! That was GREAT!

    They totally missed the point which was that it was AWFUL! (Even the execution of the moves wasn't that great because he was so awkward at trying to mismatch the moves to the song)

    The couple then tried to make their point by dancing again to the same song but WITH the music. They left out some fancy stuff, but when they put it in, it made sense. The little things they did were sublime and it all flowed. A beautiful demo!

    Unfortunately there were still people watching who didn't get the idea and thought the first demo was better because it contained more "impressive" steps.

    Its sad but true, that for some people, the music playing is nothing more than musak in an elevator... its there, but you can ignore it. It seems to me that tango attracts MORE of these people than any other social dance.
  12. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree... if they get something out of it, and they're having a good time, who am I to criticize.

    On the other hand, I also don't want to dance with them.
  13. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if that is because he was specifically trying to write music for concert rather than dance. Maybe he deliberately made it awkward fro the dancers of the time to discourage people from dancing when his music was being played?
  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm confused... I thought vals had the same rhythm as Viennese Waltz (as opposed to American Waltz) and I thought that was 6/8?

    I admit that I'm pretty rusty on music theory. However, I always feel that Argentine vals bears more resemblance to Viennese in structure than to any other waltz. (though I can see your point about the resemblance to milonga) In fact, my partner and I will do Argentine Vals style dancing to Viennese and use the Viennese "basic" (what I call the basic anyway, with my limited experience) to A. vals. And we'll do a milonga-like thing without traspie' to American Waltz.
  15. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Surely the point is to dance what you hear.
    It isn't necessarily what the next person is aware of
    in the same way, it's how people end up dancing differently
    to the same music.

    Bearing in mind Zoopsia's recent posts. I'm assuming
    of course that they are listening and connecting
    to the music.

    It's one of the more rewarding sides of having YouTube
    and video to watch - you can see how good dancers
    interpret the music, how they step to the compas etc.
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yay! I wasn't dreaming!
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Some stuff I dug up and put in Wikipedia.

    The Viennese custom is to slightly anticipate the second beat, which conveys a faster, lighter rhythm, and also breaks of the phrase. The younger Strauss would sometimes break up the one-two-three of the melody with a one-two pattern in the accompaniment along with other rhythms, maintaining the 3/4 time while causing the dancers to dance a two-step waltz. The metronome speed for a full bar varies between 60 and 70, with the waltzes of the first Strauss often played faster than those of his sons.[10]
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    What waltzes are you comparing vals to? For me, the similarity to VW is in the speed. Its easy to dance all 3 beats (One,Two, Three) in an American Waltz but its much harder to dance all 3 beats in Viennese... you gotta move pretty fast. Many people break up a V Waltz by inserting figures that pause for the 2,3 and only step on the one. Few people bother with that when dancing an American Waltz unless they're doing some specific move like a slow develope' or dip.

    However, people do hold beats in A. Vals, because like Viennese, dancing all 3 beats for the entire song gets pretty tiring. Dancing only the One count though may get tedious, just as it would in a Viennese waltz.

    I can see that A. vals may be 3/4 rather than 6/8 but I could imagine that some vals might very well be 6/8. Ultimately its the tempo not the emphasis on 4 that makes Argentine Vals resemble Viennese to me.

    Perhaps you feel that vals is not like Waltz because you are more accustomed to American Waltz or Country Waltz than you are to Viennese?
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I was not referring to people who are interpreting the music differently than I. To interpret you do have to listen to the music, and many interpretations are possible. I do know of some leaders here who don't hear the music the way I do, so dancing with them challenges me, but I recognize that they ARE listening to it and using it. I might enjoy watching them even if dancing with them is awkward.

    I was referring specifically to those that ignore the music and aren't listening to it.
  20. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Sorry Zoopsia I was using your post to qualify mine, no implication about yours at all.

    In fact your experience and mine are pretty similar as far as Viennese and Ballroom/American waltz are concerned. I sometimes try a rotating weight changing ballroom style to the Vals on the first beat only but often have a problem leading a reluctant partner to change foot on every close - haven't fathomed why yet.
    It isn't that important so I don't persevere and just change the dance.

    At other times if the music and my partner suits, we'll have a spell of turning steps on the beat - needs a good partner though. And weaving through the slowly moving obstacles can be a challenge too so it has to be done with care and in suitable space.

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