Acoustic recordings

In Argentina, the acoustic era of sound recording coincides with the gestation and guardia vieja periods of tango history.

The first tango recordings where made on cylinders and 25 cm discs in Europe (1902) and Argentina (1904). These recordings featured primitive or very early tangos performed by various singers, payadores and musicians such as Gabino Ezeiza, Higinio Cazón, Angel Villoldo, Flora and Alfredo Gobbi,  Manuel Campoamor and Andree Vivianne. They also included tangos performed by military and police bands.

The first recording of a tango by an orquesta típica criolla was made by Jose Tagini with Vicente Greco in 1911. Jose Tagini was a sucessful importer of gramophones and discs and his store acted as the first recording studio in Buenos Aires. Casa Tagini had an exclusive contract with Columbia and also recorded with Eduardo Arolas, Angel Villoldo, Genaro Esposito, Alfredo Gobbi and Juan Maglio (Pacho), who became extremely popular in 1912. Tagini also gave Carlos Gardel his first opportunity to record, though Gardel was not a tango signer at that time.

Another important actor in the early history of tango recording was Henri Lapage, owner of a photography store which was also among the first to import phonographs and gramophones in Argentina. Casa Lepage was sold to Max Glucksmann who signed with the duo Gardel-Razanni for Odeon and recorded Carlos Gardel’s first tango, “Mi noche triste“, in 1917.

Early recordings made in Argentina were sent to be pressed in the United States, Germany or Brasil. Discs were shipped back to Argentina six months later to be released. Max Glucksmann was first to produce his own discs in Argentina in 1919.

Acoustic recordings were entirely mechanical processes. They involved collecting the physical air pressure of sound waves into large conical horns. This pressure was used to activate a stylus to scratche an analogue of the sound waves onto a moving medium. 

Cylinders appeared first in 1877 and were associated with phonographs. Gramophones appeared in 1887 along with the first discs. Zonophones were phonographs which were commonly used in Argentina.


[1] Pesce, Ruben, Oscar el Priore, and Silvestre Byron. La historia del tango: La guardia vieja. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977. Print.

[2] El tango: Un siglo de Historia. Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[3] Luci, H. Lorenzo. “Los payadores y las primeras grabaciones en Buenos Aires.” Todotango. WEB. Aug 2016.


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