The above names are a sparse sampler of tango orchestras. There are lots of very famous and important figures of tango I haven't even mentioned - discovering and listening to these and comparing their styles is an "exercise for the reader". The names include: Aníbal Troilo, Alfredo De Angelis, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo, Angel D'Agostino, Edgardo Donato, Lucio Demare, Osvaldo Fresedo, Ricardo Tanturi, Pedro Laurenz, Sexteto Mayor, ...
One of the important steps in improving musicality is to indulge our tastes - discover what we like dancing to, try to figure out why, and get more of the good stuff. That means:
- Identify your favourite tangos in the milonga and dance to them; In many milongas, the music is organised into sets of three or four tangos all by the same orchestra. If you've had a particularly marvellous set, of course it's probably because you're a fabulous dancer and so is your partner, but it's also probably because you both liked the music; ask the DJ who the orchestra was and try to get to know who your favourites are - it's often the orchestra that you like, rather than the particular tango.
- Buy their CDs and listen to them all the time. The best dancers that I know make tango the soundtrack of their whole life; they don't just listen to tango when they're dancing or practicing, they listen to it in the car on the way to work and again on the way home, they listen to it all day at work if possible, they listen to it at home turned up loud to drown out the protestations of their children, they listen while they cook, while they shower, sometimes while they sleep.
A wee game often played in the milonga, between tango and tango, is "guess this orchestra" - one person will ask the other something like "This is Fresedo, right?". The more familiar with your favourite orchestras you get, the better at this game you will be, but there are also some tricks. In particular, many orchestras 'sign' the tango by finishing in a particular way in almost all of their tangos. Once you get to know the 'chan-chan' of an orchestra, it can be easy to recognise them even if you're not familiar with the particular tango.
The 'chan-chan' is the last two notes dramatically ending almost all tangos. Here are some examples of distinctive chan-chans of some orchestras:
text: robert©fromont.net.nz August 2008
The following music was harmed in the production of this article:
(you can buy the CD from amazon.com by clicking the picture of the album)