Estribillista

The estribillista is the singer of the orchesta típica of the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s purpose is to perfom the estribillo (refrain) in such a way that the orchestra and the music remains at the center of attention. It differs from the cantor de orquesta (orchestra singer) of the golden age and solo tango singers.

In the early 1920’s, singing was reserved to soloists such as Carlos Gardel and Ignacio Corsini. These singers used to perform with guitars or small band which would accommodate their voice and were not concerned with delivering a steady beat for dancing. Orquestas típicas were performing instrumental pieces only.

Francisco Canaro was the first director to incorporate a singer to his orchestra. In his memoirs he says he felt something was missing and so he invited Roberto Diaz to perform the estribillo and began experimenting with duos.

The challenges to integrate a singer to an orchestra were many at a time were there were no microphones and amplifiers. The voice of the singer had to be powerful enough to accompany the instruments in noisy public places, cafes and nightclubs. Cone were used sometimes but not an ideal solution estetically. Also it didn’t seem to occurre to anyone to slow down the pace or do major efforts to accomodate the voice of the singer until Anibal Troilo began working with Francisco Fiorentino in 1937.

Besides all of this the contribution of the estribillista to the orchestra was rarely credited. Singers were not regarded as members of the band and their names often did not even appear on recordings.

However the estribillista became popular by the end of the 1920’s and some soloists such as Charlo were associated to an orchestras. Juan Carlos Thorry and Ernesto Famá worked with Osvaldo Fresedo, Félix Gutiérrez with Julio de Caro, Dante with D’arienzo, Teófilo Ibáñez with Roberto Firpo and Santiago Devin with Carlos Di Sarli.

The presence, status and recognition of the estribillistas continued to improve as electric technologies allowed for better performances and in the 1930’s all orchestra were working with singers. Some were associated to a particular orchestra like Roberto Ray to Osvaldo Fresedo and others like Luis Diaz and Francisco Fiorentino worked with many.

It’s not until 1937 that the orchestras finally begin to fully integrate the signer and to adapt the music to showcase the voice and poetry of tango. That all began with Anibal Troilo and the first cantor de orquesta Francisco Fiorentino.

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García Blaya, Ricardo. El cantor del Tango: su evoluci’on en el tiempo – El estribillista. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/69/El-Cantor-del-Tango:-Su-evolucion-en-el-tiempo-El-estribillista/

Francisco Fiorentino

Francisco Fiorentino was tango musician, singer and director of the guardia nueva. He is famous for his work as a singer with the orchestra of Anibal Troilo and regarded as the first cantor de orquestra, the tipical singer of the golden age of tango.

Born in San Telmo in 1905 to a family of Italian immigrants, Francisco Fiorentino studied music at the conservatory of Minotto Di Cicco. In his youth he used to play with his older brother Vicente in the cafes and theaters of Buenos Aires for a living.

When he joined the orchestra of Francisco Canaro in 1924, Francisco Fiorentino wanted to sing. These were the years when Canaro was experimenting with estribillistas, however Canaro did not think much of Fiorentino as a singer back then. This is why Fiorentino left to work with other orchestras such as those of Juan Carlos Cobián, Juan D’Arienzo, Angel d’Agostino, Pedro Maffia and the Orquesta típica Victor, acting both as a musician and estribillista.

The estribillista used to sing only the refrain and were not usually considered as members of the orchestra.

When Fiorentino joined the orchestra of Anibal Troilo on July 1st 1937 he became the first orchestra singer. Together Troilo and Fiorentino recorded 62 tracks including “Yo soy el tango”, “Tinta roja”, “Fueye”, “Barrio de tango”, “Los mareados”, “Gricel” Garua, and “El bulín de la calle Ayacucho”. Their innovative collaboration also resulted in giving a second life to tango poetry and singing which was in need for new channels following the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935.

According to Blaya [2] Francisco Fiorentino was not technically a great singer. His voice and diction had certain limitations but he was good at conveying the emotion.

In 1944, Francisco Fiorentino leaves the orchestra of Troilo. He works with Orlando Goñi for a while and forms his own orchestra with Astor Piazzolla. In 1948 he joined the orchestra of José Basso. He made many good recordings including 22 with Astor Piazzolla but never reached the same success as he did in while working with Troilo.

In the 1950’s Francisco Fiorentino began traveling to Uruguay and to the interior of Argentina to perform. He died in a car accident in 1955 near Mendoza.

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[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Librerias Libertador, 2002. Print.

[2] Adet, Manuel. El Tano Francisco Fiorentino. El Litoral. Online. http://www.ellitoral.com/index.php/diarios/2011/11/05/escenariosysociedad/SOCI-04.html

[3] García Blaya ,Ricardo. Francisco Fiorentino. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/creadores/biografia/149/Francisco-Fiorentino/

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 and to the music of Juan Carlos Cobián. “Los mareados” became one of Troilo’s greatest hits and the recording they made on June 15, 1942 remains among the greatest classics of the golden age.

One day in 1942 Enrique Cadícamo  was at the cabaret Tibidabo when Anibal Troilo came to him 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 about it and he wanted rearrange and present it to the public as soon as possible. And he wanted Cadícamo to write lyrics for him.

Cadícamo says he hesitated because Cobián was away in Mexico and had not given his consent for the project. However 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”.

The new version was premiered shortly after at the Tibidabo by the orchestra of Anibal Troilo with the voince of Francisco Fiorentino. “Los mareados” became an instant hit and when Juan Carlos Cobián returned to Argentina he could only be pleased to find his music was in vogue. What Troilo and Cadícamo didn’t know however 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 is 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 drunkenness. 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.

Enrique Cadícamo

Enrique Cadícamo was a writer, poet, playwright and prolific tango lyricist of the guardia nueva. He is the author of 5 plays and 6 books including “El desconocido Juan Carlos Cobián” and “La historia del tango en Paris”. He is also the author of more then 400 tangos, many of which are great classics such as “Los mareados“, “Tres esquinas”, “Madame Yvonne” and “Nostalgias”.

Enrique Cadícamo was born in 1900 and grew up in the neighbourhood of Flores in Buenos Aires. As a young man he was required to spend long hours in public transportation and this is how he began reading classics such as Victor Hugo and Ruben Darío. He also began writing poetry and plays which were presented in the theaters of Flores.

Following the success of “Mi noche triste” in 1917 it was not uncommon for playwrights of the early 1920’s to write tango. Enrique Cadícamo wrote his first tango, “Pompas de jabón” in 1924. In 1929 he won the first place in Max Gluksmann’s contest with “De todo te olvidas” and he began working with Juan Carlos Cobián. His success with tango was such that 23 of his compositions were recorded by Carlos Gardel between 1925 and 1933, many of which were great hits.

One characteristic of Enrique Cadícamo as a poet was his ability to work with many different themes. “Tres esquinas” is a masterful piece about the neigborhood in the line of Evaristo Carriego and Homero Manzi. “Al mundo le falta un tornillo” is an existentialist tango comparable to those Discepolo. And on the romantic front he is the author of Los mareadoswhich is one of the most famous tango songs of all times.

Other well known tangos by Enrique Cadícamo include “Che papusa.. oi”, “Anclao en Paris”, “Niebla del Riachuelo”, “Garúa”, “La casita de mis viejos”, “Palais de glace”, “Tengo mil novias”, “Tres amigos”, “Muñeca brava”, “Compadrón” and “Pa que bailan los muchachos”.

Enrique Cadícamo remained professionally active until his death in 1999. He received many prices in his lifetime including a Premio Konex in 1885. He was declared Ciudadano illuste de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires in 1987 and Personalidad Emerita de la Cultura Argentina in 1996. [1] In 2011 the pasaje Carabelas was renamed Paseo Enrique Cadícamo in his honor. [2]

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[1] Sorias, Gabriel. (2002) Los Capos del tango: Enrique Cadícamo. Online. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvnBkWGe4Uc

[3] “Cadicamo, en tiempo de homenaje”. In La Nacion, December 17, 2000. Online. http://www.lanacion.com.ar/45314-cadicamo-en-tiempo-de-homenaje

Garua (tango, 1943)

“Garua” is a very popular 1943 tango by Anibal Troilo and Enrique Cadícamo. It is the second of 3 tangos produced by them both, the other two being “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos” (1942) and “Naipe” (1944).

According to a story told by Cadícamo himself, Troilo came up to him with a musical piece one night after his show at the cabaret Tibidabo. Troilo asked Cadícamo if he could create lyrics for hus music and as he walked back home that night there was a very light rain falling over him. This is where Cadícamo conceived the first verses of one of his most famous tangos. [1]

Drizzle!

Sad and lonely along the road,

goes this heart striken with sadness

Like 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 sadness and loneliness. [3]

It wasn’t long after that night under the drizzle that Cadícamo came back to the Tibidabo with “Garua”. A few days later Troilo was rehearsing with Francisco Fiorentino and the song was an instant hit. It was first recorded by Troilo and Fiorentino on August 4, 1943 under the label RCA Victor. Pedro Laurenz recorded his own version two days later with Alberto Podestá under the label Odeon.

“Garua” became a great classic of Troilo’s repertoire and in 1962 he recorded it again with Roberto Goyeneche who also had great success with it and went on recording 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

Anibal Troilo

Aníbal Troilo, also known as Pichuco, Gordo or El bandoneon mayor de Buenos Aires, was a renown musician, composer and director of the golden age. With his personal charisma, sensitivity and excellence of interpretation he became one of the major figures of tango history. As a composer he left 60 pieces, many of which are classics such as “Barrio de tango” (1942), “Garúa” (1943), “María” (1945), “Romance de bario” (1947), “Sur” (1948), “Che bandoneon” (1950), “Responso” (1951), “La ultima curda” (1956), and ”Nocturno a mi barrio” (1969).

Aníbal Carmelo Troilo was born in 1914 to a modest family in the neighbourhood of Abasto in Buenos Aires. His father was a butcher who died when he was only 8-years-old. As a child he was fascinated by the bandoneon and he was 10-years-old when he convinced his mother to buy him one.

Anibal Troilo’s experience as a musician in his youth was rich and diverse. In 1925 he began performing in public in a bar next to the mercado Abasto. In 1928 he formed his first quinteto and performed with Juan Maglio at the Café Germinal in 1929. He played with Ciriaco Ortiz for the Sexteto Vardaro-Pugliese and the Orquesta los provincianos in 1930. In 1932 he joined the orchestra of Julio de Caro and worked with other major orchestras in the 1930’s including those of Angel D’Agostino, Alfredo Gobbi, La Típica Victor, Juan d’Arienzo, Luis Petrucelli and Juan Carlos Cobian.

When Toilo finally formed his own orchestra in 1937 he was only 23-years-old. He made his debut as a director in the cabaret el Marabú and was immediately hired to perform at the Café Germinal. These were the years when tango was coming back into fashion because of the success and influence of Juan d’Arienzo and tango orchestras were needed all over the city.

One year after his debut in 1938, Troilo signed a contract with the label Odeon. Unfortunately he was requested to record only two tracks under this label so “Comme il faut” and “Tinta verde” are the only recordings he have from his early years as a director. In 1941 Troilo began recording with RCA Victor.

In 1942 Anibal Troilo was hired to perform with his orchestra at the Tibidabo, a cabaret located on Avenida Corrientes 1244. There he performed with Francisco Fiorentino and Orlando Goñi, turning the place into one of the hot spots of the golden age where poets and musicians such as Homero Manzi, Pascual Contursi, Catúlo Castillo, César Vedani and José Razzano used to hang out.

Anibal Troilo was the star of the Tibidabo for over 10 years. He appeared on popular radio programs such as Ronda de ases throughout the 1940’s. In 1953 he left el Tibidabo to perform with Roberto Grela in the musical “El patio de la Morocha”. The Tibiado was demolished two years later as cabarets began closing and tango orchestras were dismembered in the 1950’s.

Though tango was going through a profound crisis in the 1960’s and 70’s, Troilo continued inovating and experimenting with small bands, duos and giant orchestras. Along with Astor Piazzolla he became one of the pillars of the Vanguardia and continued performing until his death in 1975. He left 449 recordings with his orchesta típica and many more with other other bands and orchestras. From 1948 to 1976 he appeared in various movies including “El tango vuelve a Paris”, “Mi noche triste”, and “Tango Argentino”.

An important contribution of Anibal Troilo was to give a second life to tango poetry and singing during the golden age. This aspect of tango was loosing ground following the death of Carlos Gardel in 1935 and Troilo was the first director to fully incorporate tango singers to his orchestra. He worked with some of the greatest interpreters including Fransisco Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero, Roberto Rufino, Raúl Berón and Roberto Goyeneche.

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[1] Gobello, José. Mujeres y hombres que hicieron el tango. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de Cultura Argentina, 2002. Print.

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

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 down to it’s deepest level of existentialism.

(man talking to a bandoneon)

I know.. don’t say it. 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

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

“La ultima curda” was recorded for the first time in 1956 by Anibal Troilo with the voice of Edmundo Rivero. It became a classic of his repertoire and he recorded another version with Goyeneche in 1963, followed by an in instrumental version in 1969. Both Roberto Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero adopted it as well and continued performing and recording “La ultima curda” 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.

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