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Topic: Composing tango

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  1. #1

    Question Composing tango

    I have been asked to compose a few tango pieces, and this is the first time I am asked something I don't really know. I am looking for resources out there that could help me understand the tango... Stuff like what defines tango (musically speaking)... What type of arrangements sound like tango, etc.

    Anybody familiar with this type of music willing to share info on it? Are there books on the subject? Websites? Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Martin
    Martin Lachance, Composer
    www.martinlachance.com

  2. #2

    Re: Composing tango

    *REMOVED*

    Because everything in my post turned out to be apparently wrong, I thought it would be better to remove it...

  3. #3

    Re: Composing tango

    Quote Originally Posted by DeOlivier
    I also find the "Twelve Monkeys" soundtrack very interesting (even though many critics hated it): Paul Buckmaster adapted music by A. Piazzolla for this film.

    Best, Oliver
    Yes, I thought that it was very good as well. Who cares what critics say anyway? If they had any talent they would be "doing" rather than criticising...!

    Daryl

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Composing tango

    That's a great little illustration of the tango groove.

    If you want the overall spirit of tango, it is seduction. Like any dance form, to really understand the music, watch dancers. They will completely explain it to you. It's a tease, playful but purposeful, one of the most sexually illustrative dance forms around. Which, musically, means that you should always remain on the path, and avoid reaching "destinations." Keep the tension on, but not a high tension...the tension should be a bubbling, persistent undercurrent. Never let a resolution be an actual resolution. There should always be a thread of doubt in each phrase, just sufficient to overcome gravity and pull the listener in further.

    If you are good in bed, you have the skills for Tango already. It's that pause before the plunge, the lingering glance, the slow hand...that ability to heighten desire by the withholding of gratification. Translate this into sound, and you will be a tango-master in no time.

  5. #5

    Thumbs up Re: Composing tango

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinL
    I have been asked to compose a few tango pieces, and this is the first time I am asked something I don't really know. I am looking for resources out there that could help me understand the tango... Stuff like what defines tango (musically speaking)... What type of arrangements sound like tango, etc.

    Anybody familiar with this type of music willing to share info on it? Are there books on the subject? Websites? Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Martin
    Martin,

    You can find excerpts of tango music at the link below:

    http://www.todotango.com/english/main.html

    BTW, tango's main instrument is bandoneon not accordion. I hope this helps.

    Julio

  6. #6

    Re: Composing tango

    There's a really good book by the tango pianist and composer Horacio Salgan, but I don't know if is available outside Argentina. Anyway... forget about percussion (specially castanets) if you are suposed to write something close to a real argentinian tango -tapping at the instruments is more idiomatic-. I should mention that the examples shown by Oliver are more related to a "tango a la Valentino" (maybe that's what you need). Check out the sheet music in that link posted by Julio. Think of lots of rubato. And at least some phrase should be in a minor key (not necessary but...). For the basic instrumentation use bandoneon and piano. Then, if you like, add a string chamber orchestra, or violin, guitar and bass (I'm thinking of the Piazzola quintet). Maybe a flute (the oldest type of tango used just flute and guitars). Perhaps some clarinet. Definitively no brass. I'm not an expert in tango, just an argentinian.

    Best regards (and sorry for my poor english)

  7. #7

    Re: Composing tango

    Poor English??? You wrote perfect English in a conversational style. Maybe an English instructor wouldn't like your puctuation, but I would not have guessed that English is not your first language.

    You shared some very interesting content. Between your post and Bruce's, I want to start writing tangos - or maybe I really just want to be an Argentinian.

    -JF

  8. #8

    Re: Composing tango

    Quote Originally Posted by cosmefulanito
    Anyway... forget about percussion (specially castanets) if you are suposed to write something close to a real argentinian tango -tapping at the instruments is more idiomatic-. I should mention that the examples shown by Oliver are more related to a "tango a la Valentino" (maybe that's what you need).
    Ok, I think I'm gonna trash my arranging book where I have the information above from....

    BTW, what's the difference between a bandoneon and an accordion?

  9. #9

    Re: Composing tango

    Now I realize why I like thrash metal so much, Bruce.

  10. #10

    Re: Composing tango

    Thanks to all for your replies, that's a nice start! Nice post Bruce, I'll try to remember that...

    I guess what I had in mind at first was trying to find some kind of resources that would tell me stuff like: what kind of rythmic figures are usually used in tango; what kind of scales are typically used, what kind of harmonic patterns, time signatures, melodic patterns, etc...

    Thanks for the example Oliver. BTW you mention your arranging book... What book is it exactly? Does it answer the questions I ask above?

    Thanks!
    Martin
    Martin Lachance, Composer
    www.martinlachance.com

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