Category Archives: Music

Tango andaluz

The tango andaluz is one of the main musical genres which came into the creation of Argentine tango. It became popular in Buenos Aires in the middle of the 19th century through Spanish theater and inspired the creation of local songs which evolved into one of the primitive form of tango criollo.

The history of the tango andaluz is complex and raises many difficult questions including that of the origin and meaning of the the term “tango”. According to the Argentine musicologist Carlos Vega, (1) when Spanish sailors came to South America at the end of the 18th century, they discovered afro-american rhythms which were integrated into their musical tradition along with the word “tango”. This is the origin of the tango flamenco which in itself has little or nothing to do with Argentine tango.

When the tango flamenco was integrated into Spanish theater in the 19th century it went through a process of transformation which led to the creation of the tango andaluz. Because theaters worked with piano and orchestra rather then guitars, the tango flamenco began to incorporate elements of the habanera, a Cuban rhythm which was very popular in Hispanic countries at that time and better adapted to orchestra instruments. This blend of tango flamenco and habanera is at the origin of the tango andaluz which entered Buenos Aires through the genero chico, a short genre of musical play or zarzuela.

In those days when there was no radio, movies or sound recording of any kind, theater was an important vehicle through which new songs were made popular. This is how the tango andaluz entered Buenos Aires where local versions were invented to better reflect the life situations and linguistic expressions of the Porteños. Many of those tangos acriollados were directly based on an original tango andaluz as Carlos Vega pointed out comparing the “Tango de la casera” with “Andate a la recoleta” (1880). Another example of an early tango which is little more then an adaptation of a tango andaluz is “Ay, qué gusto que placer” (1897) which can be compared to “Ar sal’i los nazarenos”.

Other primitive tangos of andaluz influence include “Bartolo” (1900), “El cochero de tramway” (1900), “La morocha” (1905), “Cuidado con los cincuenta” (1907), “Hotel Victoria” (1906) and “El caburé” (19). These are the tangos which were popularized by interpreters such as Angel Villoldo and Alfredo Gobbi. They contributed to the creation of other genres of  tango criollo and disapeared around 1910 in favour of another current related to the milonga.

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[1] Selles, Roberto. “El tango y sus dos primeras decadas (1880- 1900)” in La historia del tango: Primera epoca. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977. Print.

[2] Matamoro, Blas. “Orígenes musicales.” In La historia del tango: sus orígenes. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1976. Print.

[3] Horvat, Ricardo. Esos malditos tangos: apuntes para la otra historia. Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos, 2006. Print.

Derecho viejo (tango, 1916)

“Derecho viejo” is a 1916 tango composed by bandoneonista Eduardo Arolas. The title, as it was often the case in those days when copyrights did not exist, was chosen in honor of those to whom the piece was dedicated, in this case a group of law students.

According to an interview with musicologist Rafael Tuegols, published in the magazine Cantando in 1948, “Derecho viejo” was first performed at the cafe La Morocha where Arolas used to play for a crowd of workers from the brick kiln of the Parque Centenario.

Like many other compositions by Eduardo Arolas, “Derecho viejo” is structured in a way which allows for rich arrangements. It has been recorded countless times by various orchestras and solo artists from Julio de Caro and Francisco Canaro, to Juan d’Arienzo, Francini-Pointier, Nelly Omar, Astor Piazzolla and many others including contemporary orchestras. It has become one of  the best known pieces of the repertoire along with “La Cumparsita” and “El Choclo” and is commonly featured in tango shows. There unfortunately are no  recordings of it by Eduardo Arolas.

Though “Derecho viejo” is almost exclusively known as an instrumental theme, it is good to know that two sets of lyrics were written for it many years after its creation. The first one was written by Andrés Baldesari and recorded by the Orquesta Típica Victor with estribillo by Teófil Ibáñez in 1934.

Usted sabrá que cuando el amor comienza a taconear sentimientos en el pecho, la dulce tentación, sentimos sed de amar, de amar de corazón!

Y yo tambien amé con gran passión, amé con gran delirio, y coseché martirios, porque un padecer me brindó esa mujer que fue mi perdición!

The second one was written by Gabriel Clausi shortly before the 50th anniversary of Eduardo Arolas’s death and was officially registered in order to extend the copyright on “Derecho viejo” by the composer’s successors. This version was recorded by Nelly Omar accompanied by guitars in 1979.

Tango de mi ciudad, malevo y sensual, cayengue y triston, color de arrabal. Señor de salon, tienes emoción de noche porteña.

“Derecho viejo” is the title of a 1951 movie by Manuel Romero, inspired by the life of Eduardo Arolas.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. III). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

 

Los mareados (tango, 1942)

“Los mareados” is one of the most famous tango songs of  all times. The version we know today was written in 1942 by Enrique Cadícamo, at the request of Anibal Troilo, to the music of Juan Carlos Cobián.

One day in 1942, as he was beginning to perform with his orchestra at the cabaret Tibidabo, Anibal Troilo came to Enrique Cadícamo with an old instrumental recording by Osvaldo Fresedo. It was a 1922 recording of a tango by Juan Carlos Cobián entitled “Los dopados”. Troilo felt strongly inspired to rearrange and present it as soon as possible and he wanted Cadícamo to write the lyrics for him.

Cadícamo says he hesitated at first because the composer Juan Carlos Cobián was away in Mexico and had not given his consent for the project, but Troilo convinced him that it would be a winning situation for everyone if “Los dopados” resurfaced twenty years later as a hit. Cadícamo agreed to write the lyrics and changed the title to “Los mareados”.

Shortly after, the new song was premiered at the Tibidabo by the orchestra of Anibal Troilo with Roberto Fiorentino. “Los mareados” became one of Troilo’s greatest hits and the recording they made on June 15, 1942, remains among the great classics of the golden age.

When Juan Carlos Cobián returned to Argentina he could only be pleased to find his music was in vogue, but what Troilo and Cadícamo apparently didn’t know is that “Los Dopados” already had registered lyrics by Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach.

Bebe ese olvido que te ofrecen, que acallara tu almita herida, y asi podra, embrutecida, amar, beber, reir…

Busca del vicio el triste ensueño, bebe el olvido en su veneno, que si el beber hace olvidar, sera esa tu mayor felicidad.

Drink the forgiveness which isare  offered to you, which calms your soul, so you can, numbed, love, drink and laugh…

Go for the sad illusion of the vice, drink the forgiveness in its poison, and if drinking makes you forget, let that be your greatest happiness.

“Los Dopados” by Juan Carlos Cobian, Raul Doblas and Alberto Weisbach had been composed in 1922 for a play which was presented at the Teatro Porteño. It was recorded in 1923 by Roberto Diaz with the original lyrics and by Osvaldo Fresedo in instrumental version. Though “Los Mareados” are now one of the most famous Argentine songs of all times, the original lyrics by Doblas-Weisbach have fallen into oblivion.

In 1943, “Los Mareados” was banned by the new military government along with many other tangos which contain lunfardo terms or allusions to drunkness. Cadícamo wrote a new version entitled “En mi pasado”, which in spite of its beauty, and like many other pieces which were rewritten at that time, was hardly ever used or recorded.

When the prohibition was lifted in 1949, “Los Mareados” gained back its popularity. Since then it has been recorded by countless artists of all styles including Hector Mauré, Floreal Ruiz, Suzana Rinaldi, Raul Lavié, Astor Piazzolla, Mercedes Sosa with Roberto Goyeneche, Adriana Varela and pop singer Andrés Calamaro.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

 

 

Garua (tango, 1943)

“Garua” is a 1943 tango by Anibal Troilo and Enrique Cadícamo. It was recorded by Troilo with Francisco Fiorentino for the label RCA Victor on august 4, 1943. Two days later, Pedro Laurenz recorded his own version with Alberto Podestá under the label Odeon.

“Garua” is the second of 3 tangos composed by Anibal Troilo with the lyrics of Enrique Cadicamo, the other two other being “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” (1942) and “Naipe” (1944). According to Cadícamo, Troilo presented the music to him one night at the Tibidabo and asked if he could write the lyrics. As he walked home that night there was a very light rain or drizzle falling over him and this is where he conceived the first verses of his famous tango. [1]

¡Garúa! Solo y triste por la acera, va este corazón transido con tristeza de tapera.

Drizzle! Sad and lonely by the sidewalk, goes this hear striken with the sadness of an abandoned house.

Garua is a lunfardo term of Quechua origin which translates to “drizzle”. [4] The rains is a recurrent theme in tango and has been evoked directly or indirectly in many other pieces such as “El café de Los Angelitos”, “El ultimo café”, “Charlemos”, “Tarde gris”, and “La noche que te fuiste” as a symbol of loneliness.

It wasn’t long after that night when he walked back home under the drizzele that Cadícamo came back to el Tibidabo with “Garua” and just a few days later Troilo was rehearsing with Francisco Fiorentino.

The 1953 recording by Troilo and Fiorentino was followed by another one in 1962 by Troilo and Roberto Goyeneche who recorded two other versions with Raul Garello and Astor Piazzolla. Other well known interpretations of “Garua” include those of Hugo del Carril and Adriana Varela.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Garúa. Tangos al Bardo, 2013. Online. http://tangosalbardo.blogspot.com.ar/2013/07/garua.html

[3] El tango y la lluvia. El Litoral, 2011. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2011/08/20/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-02.html

[4] Diccionario lunfardo. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/comunidad/lunfardo/?i=G&s=all

 

La ultima curda

“La ultima curda” is one of the last great poems of the golden age of tango. It was written in 1956 by Catúlo Castillo to the music of Anibal Troilo. It tells the story of a deeply disillusioned man, talking to a bandoneon about the futility of life and the profound emotions he feels at the sound of a tango.

Curda is a lunfardo term which means “drunkenness” or “inebriation”; thus La ultima curda would translate as “the last  inebriation”. It is the third of a series of tangos which presents the bandoneon as a living character and friend of the lonely man in the style of “Che bandoneon” by Homero Manzi. It also resonates with the work of Enrique Discepolo as it takes tango poetry to the deepest level and ultimate apogee of existentialism.

¡Ya s’e, no me dig’as! ¡Tienes razon! La vida es una herida absurda, y todo es tan fugaz que es una curda, ¡Nada mas! Mi confesión.

I know, no need to say! You are right! Life is an absurd wound, and everything is so ephemeral that it’s as good as getting drunk to even bother telling my story (talking to the bandoneon).

In his memoirs, Roberto Rivero remembers a beautiful summer evening when they were rehearsing “La ultima curda” in Troilo’s apartment on Parana street, near Avenida Corrientes and the cabaret Chanteclerc. They were making the last arrangements when they noticed a crowd was amassed in the street, interrupting the late night traffic, so they went out on the balcony and performed “La ultima curda” for the first time in public. It was such a magical night it felt a bit strange to sing “life is an absurd wound”, said Rivero in “Una luz de almacen”. 

“La ultima curda” was recorded for the first time in 1956 by Anibal Troilo with Edmundo Rivero for the label TK. It became a classic of Troilo’s repertoire; he recorded another version with Goyeneche in 1963, followed by an in instrumental version in 1969. Both Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero kept the song in their repertoire as well and recorded it many times over.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Adet, Manuel. La ultima curda. El Litoral. Online.  http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2013/03/09/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-03.html

[2] Riveo, Edmundo. Una luz de almacen. Buenos Aire: Emecé editores, 1982. Print.

Organito de la tarde (tango, 1923)

Organito de la tarde” is a tango composed by Catúlo Castillo in 1923 with the lyrics of his father Jose González Castillo.

In 1924 it was presented in the first contest organized by Max Glucksmann at the cine-teatro Gran Splendid.  At that moment only the music was eligible for the contest. Each piece was performed by Roberto Firpo and voted by the public in various eliminatory rounds. [2] Apparently this public contest was not particularly objective as there is evidence that Canaro, Lomuto and Gonzalez Castillo were competing to buy entries in order to influence the vote. [1] In anycase Catúlo Castillo won the third place with Organito de la tarde” after “Sentimiento gaucho” by Francisco Canaro and Rafael Canaro and “Pa’ que te acordes” by Francisco Lomuto.

One year later in 1925, Organito de la tarde” was premiered in Teatro San Matín by Azucena Maizani who recorded it soon after with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro. It was featured in a 1925 silent movie of the same name by José Agustín Ferreyra. Carlos Gardel also recorded it in his early years with Odeon and Carlos Di Sali produced 3 instrumental versions in 1942, 1952 and 1954. Other versions include those of Rodolfo Biagi (1956) and Roberto Ruffino (1959).

Organito de la tarde” is only one of many tango celebrating the portable instrument which “filled the neighborhood with musical notes”, allowing tango to enter every household through the windows at the turn of the 20th century.

Al paso tardo de un pobre viejo
puebla de notas el arrabal,
con un concierto de vidrios rotos,
el organito crepuscular.

The organito became obsolete in the 1920’s as recording technologies evolved and became increasingly accessible.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Concursos de Max Gluksmann. Wikipedia. Online. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concursos_de_Max_Gl%C3%BCcksmann

[3] Tálice, Roberto A. “Evocación y ubicación de José Gonzalez Castillo”. In La historia del tango: Los poets (I). Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977.

El entrerriano (tango, 1897)

“El entrerriano” is regarded as the first tango in history. It was composed in 1887 by pianist Rosendo Mendizábal under the pseudonym of A. Rosendo. Along with other early compositions such as Don Juan (1899) and “El cholco” (1903), it contributed to establish and consolidate the musical structure of tango.

Many others tangos had been composed and popularized before 1887, but   offered the first printed tango partitions with registered author[2] It is also the oldest tango still present in today’s repertoire and this is why it is regarded as the first tango in history.

“El entrerriano” means “the one who comes from the province of Entre Rios“. It was dedicated to Ricardo Sergovia, a member of a young men’s club which regularly held their parties at lo de Maria la Vasca, a well known casa de baile where Rosendo Mendizábal had become the regular pianist. Since copyrights didn’t exist at the end of the 19th century, it was common for composers to dedicate their work to someone who could pay them in return for the favour, in this case Ricardo Sergovia who was born in the province of Entre Rios. This is why the first tango in history is entitled “El entrerriano”. [1]

Like most early tango compositions, “El entrerriano” is essentially an instrumental piece. Many different lyrics were written for it over the years by A. Semino y S. Retondaro, Planells y Amor, Julián Porteño and Homero Expósito but these were rarely used or recorded. Ángel Villoldo also added some verses to “El entrerriano” for Pepita Avellaneda in 1900:

“A mí me llaman Petita, ay ay, de apellido Avellaneda, ay ay, famosa por la milonga, y conmigo no hay quien pueda” 

Unfortunately Rosendo Mendizábal died in 1913 leaving no recordings. That same year “El entrerriano” was recorded twice, first by Genaro Espósito and later by Eduardo Arola under the labels Atlanta and Odeon respectively. Other early recordings of “El entrerriano”  include that of Ciriaco Ortiz with his trio and another recording by the municipal band.

Many versions of “El entrerriano” were recorded by orchestras of the guardia vieja and of the golden age including those of Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro, Osvaldo Fresedo, Juan D’arienzo, Alfredo de Angelis, Anibal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese. Astor Piazzolla  recorded his own version of the first tango in history with his Octeto Buenos Aires.

“El entrerriano” was performed in the Argentine sound film “Tango” (1933) by the Orquesta de la guardia vieja of Ernesto Ponzio and Juan Carlos Bazan. π

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Selles, Roberto. El Entrerriano. La historia de “El entrerriano” y sus principales grabaciones. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/380/El-entrerriano-Historia-de-El-entrerriano-y-sus-principales-grabaciones/

[3] Selles, Roberto. “El tango y sus dos primeras decadas (1880- 1900)” in La historia del tango: Primera epoca. Buenos Aires: Corregidor. 1977. Print.