13 March 2013

On tandas and safety nets

I just came back from Viento Norte - Festivalito Milonguero. Throughout this event, as is common at milonguero events / encuentros, (almost) all of us said "thank you for the dance" after one tanda.

It's been two days, and I miss it already: this buzz of excitement we experience every ten minutes.

The electricity in the room when the floor is empty and the cortina is drawing to an end. The electricity inside. What is the DJ's choice for the next tanda? Will it be something I love? Will I be able to find the right person for Donato, Di Sarli, D'Agostino?

I miss the anticipation in the room before each tanda.

Girls on the edge of their chairs, necks craned, backs straight as rulers. Guys standing tall, looking across the dance floor. Heads swivelling to locate the next favourite partner. Secret smiles as decisions are being made. Determined looks as the tanda starts. Eyebrows shooting upwards, happy nodding, broad grins, guys walking towards their lady. Humorous exclamations of disappointment if someone else was chosen. Misunderstandings, blushing and bashful laughter.

I miss this carefreeness, one that I don't find elsewhere. I miss the carefreeness of not having to plan ahead for the tanda after, a tanda I don't know anything about. The carefreeness of not having to worry about getting stuck with the right person, but the wrong music. The carefreeness of not making anyone feel bad by saying "thank you" after one tanda.

And most importantly: I miss being reminded to dance without a safety net, to dance knowing that there's no next tanda if I fail miserably during the first four tangos. I miss being reminded to walk into the embrace, into the music, into now, to challenge myself to immediacy, without hesitation or reservation.

I even miss the sting of sadness when a perfect tanda is over, a sadness coloured with the comfort of thinking that if we danced another one, it might have become just a little less perfect...

7 March 2013

Female tango composers: Dorita Zárate

Since it's International Women's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd celebrate by starting off a series of posts about women that are unknown for many of us. These women have something special in common: they were composers in a time when the tango music world was dominated by men.

In these posts, I'll focus on women who composed music that was recorded, so we can listen to their work.

The first female composer I discovered was Dorita Zárate. In addition to one milonga that wasn't recorded, Por ella, she wrote one tango - No esperaba verte más - and one milonga - Zorzal - that were recorded by Carlos Di Sarli.

(collage by me - images found at Tangos al bardo and tango.info)

Sadly, I couldn't find much information about Dorita Zárate online. There's a small biography in Spanish at Tangos al bardo though, which tells us that Zárate's real name was Teodora María García, and that she was born in 1917.

Zárate was a singer as well, and her career started early: when she was only 15, she won a contest for new voices at the Radio La voz del aire. She sang occasionally with Ciriaco Ortiz - who used to call her "Gauchita" - and even with Rodolfo Biagi on the radio.

Dorita Zárate wrote both music and lyrics to No esperaba verte más and Zorzal.


* No esperaba verte más  Carlos Di Sarli - canta Jorge Durán - 1946

* Zorzal  Carlos Di Sarli - canta Roberto Rufino - 1941

* Zorzal  Orquesta José García - canta Alfredo Rojas 1942

Zorzal was also recorded in 1969 with Enrique Rodríguez and Dorita Zárate herself, but I couldn't find this one online.

Zorzal is a type of bird - for instance a blackbird - but to me, it looks like the lyrics might be about a man that was a great singer:

Lyrics copied from tangostangos.com.ar

If you have additional information about Dorita or her music / lyrics, you're welcome to post it in a comment. I'll be away this weekend, so comments will be published on Monday =)

4 March 2013

Yo no sé por qué te quiero - beauty in simplicity

Drawing music is both fun and useful. It always makes me see something I didn't notice - or didn't know I had noticed. So this weekend, I made a drawing of a tango I love a lot: Yo no sé por qué te quiero. It was written in 1934 by Francisco Canaro; with lyrics by Ivo Pelay. My favourite version is Canaro's own recording, canta Ernesto Famá 1934.

You can listen to it here: archive.org and YouTube. The links are to the same recording - I hope that at least one of them works if you live in a country that restricts online listening. The links open in another tab so you can listen and look at the same time. 

I'm fascinated with how Canaro builds his composition out of one, very small idea. Basically, most of this tango consists of one tiny structure:  ╱╲

Here are the two parts - A and B section.

This is by no means a full musical analysis - and it's not meant to be - but we can still see how Canaro builds a whole story with his small fragment. I especially like the way he's changing the mood from the A section to the B section. He uses the same idea, but breaks up the structure, adding suspense.

If you leave a comment, I'm very much interested to hear if this did make sense or not - and if you are familiar with music notation / have done this kind of thing before.

Additional links:

- Francisco's younger brother Rafael recorded a quite beautiful version a couple of years after.

- Lyrics and version by José Carnet / Nelly Omar on Todotango