Posts Tagged ‘’

100 years of Orquesta Tipica recordings

June 21, 2010

I was searching for the year when the bandoneon was included in tango recordings and found this interesting history.  Vicente Greco grew up in the neighbordhood of San Cristobal at Sarandi 1356.  It’s interesting to note that Francisco Canaro lived next door at 1358.   Greco died at Humberto Primo 1823, one block from Lo de Celia Tango Club.  Greco gave the name Orquesta Tipica Criolla to his group.

It has taken years for me to recognize the distinct styles of the various orquesta tipica recordings played in the milongas.  Learning the composers and lyricists is an even greater challenge.  One thing I know is that it is rare to enjoy a night at the milonga without hearing at least one of Vicente Greco’s compositions.  Among them are: El Flete, Rodriguez Peña, La Viruta, and Ojos NegrosWe have these timeless tangos thanks to him.  He was a self-trained musician who didn’t know how to notate. 

Here is a recording of Vicente Greco’s Orquesta tipica criolla playing El Incendio, which was recorded 100 years ago and released on Colombia Records in 1911.

One thing leads to another

April 4, 2010

Years ago I went regularly to weekend house sales to buy what I needed to furnish an apartment in Buenos Aires.  House sales and consignment shops are for bargain hunters.  Yesterday I selected two sales since they were walking distance from one another.  One was a house that is set for demolition and had sheet music on the list of items for sale.  I went there to see if there were tango scores.

I waited about twenty minutes before I was permitted to enter the house.  There on a table in the garage were piles of all types of piano sheet music.  If one had to begin purchasing all this music  for study, it would cost thousands of pesos.   I began my search to see what I could find.

In one pile I soon found a handwritten note — tangos.  I was pleased to find tangos that I knew.  Some of the scores were originals, some were photocopies.  That did not matter to me.   I found one of my favorites — Dejame! …No quiero verte más.   I like to read and study the music while listening to recordings.  I paid ten pesos for about twenty tango scores. 

Today I looked over the scores and wanted to know more about one of them— Las cuarenta by Roberto Grela and Francisco Gorrindo.  I went to Todo Tango and found a biography of Roberto Grela.  He played a special role in bringing out the best in Aníbal Troilo.  The site also has a recording of Las cuarenta with a photo of the score.

One thing leads to another in the study of tango.

Si soy asi

September 14, 2008
si-soy-asi-sheet-musicI keep my clock radio tuned to 92.7FM Dos Por Cuatro so I wake to tango music and listen throughout the day while at my desk. One evening I heard this tango that caught my attention with its cheerful lyrics. I made a note of the title and then researched it on the Internet at where I found the lyrics and listened to the 1964 recording by Charlo. There are those who believe that all tangos have sad lyrics. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tangos for the milonga are three-minute poems about life, love, etc. You don’t have to know lunfardo* to understand them, although they include metaphors for life. This particular tango isn’t for dancing, but it expresses the true sentiments of many men. The following is my translation of the first stanza of Si soy así. You can read the lyrics while listening to the 1933 recording by Carlos Gardel with two stanzas.
If I am so
What am I going to do?
I was born handsome
And in a hurry to love
If I am so
What am I going to do?
With women I can’t restrain myself.
For this reason I have
the hope that someday
I will play a symphony
in which your illusion dies.

If I am so
What am I going to do?
It is my destiny
that sexual attraction makes me unfaithful.
Where I see skirts
I don’t focus on their color
married, widowed or single
For me all women are pears
In the tree of love
And if I see you flirting in the street
With your porteno eyes and swiveling hips
I dress you in the camouflage of my compliment of my flower.


*lunfardo: street slang that originated in the conventillos and developed in prisons so that the guards didn’t understand what the inmates were talking about. Today it is an integral part of the porteño dialect. The Academia Porteña del Lunfardo was established December 21, 1962.

Academia Portena del Lunfardo, Estados Unidos 1379

Academia Portena del Lunfardo, Estados Unidos 1379

El Alma Que Canta

August 5, 2008

I have a copy of the magazine “El Alma Que Canta” from April 6, 1948, the week I was born. The issue has 14 pages of lyrics and was sold for 20 cents. An article on about the magazine provides these interesting details. “El Alma Que Canta was published from 1916-1961. It was the main source for learning the lyrics of tangos heard on the radio. In 1920, 150,000 copies were sold at 10 cents. In 1928, one issue had 250,000 copies. They didn’t publish the next issue until all previous issues were sold.”  Those were the days when tango was at its height of popularity in Buenos Aires. Everyone listened to tango on the radio.
This has put things in a different perspective for me as far as the popularity of tango today, even in Buenos Aires. Argentina was cut off from the world until the 1950s. Today, travel and instant communication have made the tango accessible to a worldwide audience. And yet, tango’s popularity in the world today pales by comparison to what it was in the 1930s and 40s in Buenos Aires.

This is the back cover of the issue No. 1310 published April 6, 1948, with a photo of a young Anibal Troilo.



Cosas de Tango

July 11, 2008

The milonga is where I go to dance and to listen to tango. I finally understand why milongueros went where the best recordings were played for dancing. They could listen while waiting for the recordings of their favorite orchestras that inspired them to dance. They wanted to hear different recordings every night of the week.

About a month ago I heard Cosas de Tango for the first time. On my way back to my table, I asked the deejay for the title. I made a note of it, and later I went online to find the lyrics at TodoTango. Cosas de Tango was recorded January 31, 1946, with Carlos Di Sarli and Jorge Duran. The author is Rodolfo Manuel Taboada; the composer is Tito Ribero. Here is the original poem with my English translation.

La cosa fue como un tango
que nos hace entristecer,
como un tango a la deriva
que se silba sin querer.

La cosa fue como un tango,
como un tango nada mas,
el amor le dio unos versos
y el desamor el compas.

Una calle de barrio, en cualquier barrio,
una noche, una luna, un corazon.
Un tango desvelado que rezonga
su nocturno dolor de milonga.

Un maduro perfume de malvones,
dos centavos de luna en un rincon.
Un beso que se muerde, un juramento
y a los lejos el gemir de un bandoneon.

Mi pena no es mas que un tango
que ya cantan los demas,
el amor le dio unos versos
y el desamor el compas.

The thing was like a tango
that makes us sad
like a tango adrift
that whistles without desire.

The thing was like a tango,
like a tango nothing more,
the love gave it some verses
and the coldness the beat.

A street in a neighborhood, in any neighborhood
a night, a moon, a heart.
A tango kept awake which grumbles
its nightly milonga pain.

A mature perfume of geraniums,
two cents of moon in a corner.
A kiss that bites itself an oath
and far from the wail of a bandoneon.

My pain isn’t more than a tango
that the others already sing,
the love gave it some verses
and the coldness the beat.