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Saturday, March 18, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
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Posted by AlexTangoFuego at 9:08 AM
Saturday, March 11, 2017
When the officials of that record company had the idea of putting together an orchestra that would represent the corporation, they turned to a pianist classically trained, who had not yet played tango: Adolfo Carabelli.
This great artist studied with the best teachers of his time and when he was fifteen he was already playing concerts in the theaters of the city of Buenos Aires. When he was very young he went to Bologna, where he stayed until 1914. There he went to school and continued his musical studies. When the war broke up he returned to his country where he put together a small group of classical music: Trío Argentina.
Around that time he became acquainted with the pianist Lipoff, who accompanied the well-known dancer Anna Pavlova, and through him he was introduced to jazz, a genre that was beginning to get a wide acclaim.
His first orchestra was named River Jazz Band, later, when switching to the radio, the group bore his name, and the orchestra achieved an overwhelming success and was requested by all the nightclubs of the period. Eduardo Armani and Antonio Pugliese, among others, passed through its ranks.
He recorded his early records for the Electra label and later he is hired by the Victor company as musical advisor and responsible for the creation of a tango orchestra.
It was a seminal orchestra in tango, that never performed in public, but which left for us, during its long career, the indelible memory of its perfection and quality.
The first setting chosen by Carabelli, and that made its debut recording two tangos on November 9, 1925: “Olvido [b]”, by Ángel D'Agostino, and “Sarandí” by Juan Baüer, was the following: Luis Petrucelli, Nicolás Primiani and Ciriaco Ortiz (bandoneons); Manlio Francia, Agesilao Ferrazzano and Eugenio Romano (violins); Vicente Gorrese (piano) and Humberto Costanzo (double bass).
The composition of the orchestra changed very often, the musicians were continuously replaced, but they all were of an excellent level. So that so that some experts recognize, on certain recordings, the violin of Elvino Vardaro, for example.
Other important names that passed through the ranks of the orchestra were: Federico Scorticati, Carlos Marcucci and Pedro Laurenz (bandoneon players); Orlando Carabelli, brother of the leader, and Nerón Ferrazzano (double bass); Nicolás Di Masi, Antonio Buglione, Eduardo Armani and Eugenio Nobile (violins). Cayetano Puglisi, Alfredo De Franco and Aníbal Troilo were also included in the orchestra on some occasions.
Years later, and due to commercial reasons, the label thought that only one orchestra was not enough. For that reason a number of orchestras began to appear: Orquesta Victor Popular, the Orquesta Típica Los Provincianos led by Ciriaco Ortiz, the Orquesta Radio Victor Argentina led by Mario Maurano, the Orquesta Argentina Victor, the Orquesta Victor Internacional, the Cuarteto Victor lined up by Cayetano Puglisi, Antonio Rossi (violins), Ciriaco Ortiz and Francisco Pracánico (bandoneons) and the excellent Trío Victor, with the violinist Elvino Vardaro and the guitarists Oscar Alemán and Gastón Bueno Lobo.
The already mentioned quality of the musicians made the Orquesta Típica Victor one of the highest musical expressions of its period, and it would remain at the same level until the late thirties. And this is important to highlight, because other important orchestras, such as Julio De Caro, had lost their north.
Unfortunately later, because of a repertory that tried to fit into the commercial needs of the period, the quality of it declined, but neither its sound nor the capability of its members were of a poor level. Its vocalists, likewise, kept on being of a first rate level.
In 1936 the leadership of the orchestra is transferred to the bandoneonist Federico Scorticati, and its early recordings were the tangos “Cansancio” (by Federico Scorticati and Manuel Meaños) and “Amargura” (by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera), sung by Héctor Palacios.
In 1943 the orchestra was led by the pianist Mario Maurano, and recorded the tangos “Nene caprichoso” and “Tranquilo viejo tranquilo” (both by Francisco Canaro and Ivo Pelay), with Ortega Del Cerro on vocals, on September 2.
The last recordings under the name Orquesta Típica Victor were made on May 9, 1944, and they were the waltzes “Uno que ha sido marino” (by Ulloa Díaz) and the popular “Sobre las olas” (by Juventino Rosas), both sung by the Jaime Moreno and Lito Bayardo duo.
According to Nicolás Lefcovich's discography, the recordings were 444, but to this number we would have to add many recordings coupled on discs that on the opposite face had renditions of varied interpreters.
Even though it was an orchestra that mainly played tango, it also recorded other beats, more than forty rancheras and a similar number of waltzes, around fifteen foxtrots and very few milongas. Also polkas, corridos, pasodobles, etc.
As for vocalists, they appeared only three years after its creation, after over a hundred instrumental numbers were recorded. And the first one was a violinist, Antonio Buglione (a total of four recordings), with the tango "Piba", on October 8, 1928.
He was followed by Roberto Díaz (27 recordings), Carlos Lafuente (37, the one who recorded most), Alberto Gómez (25), Ernesto Famá (17), Luis Díaz (14), Teófilo Ibáñez (9), Ortega Del Cerro (7), Juan Carlos Delson (7), Mario Corrales —later Mario Pomar — (6) and Charlo (4).
Through the ranks of the orchestra the following vocalists passed: Alberto Carol, Jaime Moreno, Lito Bayardo, Lita Morales, Eugenio Viñas, Ángel Vargas, José Bohr, Osvaldo Moreno, Vicente Crisera, Dorita Davis, Oscar Ugarte, Fernando Díaz, Héctor Palacios, Mariano Balcarce, El Príncipe Azul, Francisco Fiorentino, Armando Barbé (also with the name Armando Sentous), Samuel Aguayo, Hugo Gutiérrez, Jimmy People, Deo Costa, Alberto Barros, Raúl Lavalle, Augusto "Tito" Vila and Gino Forsini.
When in 1944 the label decided to put an end to its career, tango was so successful that it would not be an exaggeration to say that everyday a new orchestra was put together. Somehow, with the great orchestras of the forties: Troilo, D'Arienzo, Di Sarli, D'Agostino, Tanturi, Fresedo, Laurenz, among others, the need of having one's own orchestra has come to an end.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
I've never been much of one for awards and awards shows, especially in the skewed and twisted world of the American music industry and film industry. Mainstream I ain't. I'm not going to elaborate on the skewed/twisted part because I'm not in an expounding mood. Let's just suffice it to say that there are literally millions, okay, maybe hundreds of thousands, nah...make that tens of thousands...or at least 10,000 amazing, world class musicians and singers that you will never hear or see. They are out there, practicing their craft in the privacy of their own home, perhaps meeting up with other musicians to rehearse, going out and doing small intimate gigs in various venues. Coffee shops, house concerts, hotel lobby bars, etc. I didn't mention bars/nightclubs because that can be loud/raucous not-so-good stuff, but hey - there are good'uns doing that good work as well - that is your taste.
I'm blessed to live in Austin, Texas, "The Live Music Capital of the World", so I'm exposed to a lot of opportunities to listen/see/hear/experience. We have a fair number of house concerts around Austin, with the most notable by far being the one called Blue Rock. It's out in Wimberley, held at the home of Billy and Dodee Crockett, in their gigantic great room, adjacent to their commercial recording studio. Adjacent meaning in the next room. A house concert is a somewhat casual gathering of folks to listen to a musician or two. Usually traveling/touring troubadours in the singer-songwriter folk/Americana genres. Mostly acoustic, mostly small "walls of sound" - although in the case of Blue Rock and the Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas, there is a great deal of investment in a high-fidelity listening experience. The first time I heard Richard Thompson at the Cactus Cafe (who happens to be my sister-in-law's brother-in-law) - I was dumbfounded as to the extremely high fidelity/sound quality. "Am I hearing what I think I'm hearing?" was going through my head. The cover can range from $10 to $30, depending on the artist - and the thing about house concerts is that 100% of the door goes to the artist/s. They also sell CD's and T-shirts and crap during the break and after the show.
The point is to support the artists we love - not by buying a $0.99 song on iTunes - but by truly *supporting them. Show up when they're in your town, buy their CD (preferably from the artist's website, where they get the biggest cut), go to their house concerts...you get the picture. Also, buy the entire CD if you only want one song - like in the old days.
I've only recently really started listening to the words - like really listening to what they say. I have to thank my singer-songwriter most recent ex for that. I call them "poets who sing".
Here's a favorite of mine Sam Beam/Iron & Wine, with Resurrection Fern:
Sorry for the mish-mash/poorly organized post...maybe I'll come back and clean it up...
Local Austin Musicians/Groups:
Minor Mishap Marching Band (my internist plays clarinet)
Austin Piazzolla Quartet (I heard the founding member moved to east Texas)
Glover Gill & The Tosca String Quartet (yes, we have our very own Tango composer)
Iron & Wine/Sam Beam
Band of Heathens
Blue Rock Texas (the Blue Rock website is a great way to discover new artists...they also now offer live streaming of their concerts...)
Uncle Calvin's (in a church in Dallas)
There's one in a church in the Woodlands
Several in Austin proper
Google and ask around - you will find them
"Listening Rooms" is what you are looking for...imagine a concert where everyone is absolutely quiet during the performance - no talking, no getting up and going to the bathroom, etc. - just applause at the end of a song...you are there to listen and let the entire experience wash over you...
Here in Austin it's:
The Cactus Cafe
The Continental Club Upstairs - The Gallery (downstairs is good too, but noisy bar with dancing)
Strange Brew - Lounge Side
Other Spots (here in Austin):
The Lobby Bar at the Driskill Hotel on 6th
The Townsend on Congress
The Elephant Room (for Jazz)
Antone's on 5th (famous venue - more rock genre)
Cheatham Street (San Marcos)
Best to check out the Austin Chronicle Music Calendar for everything...http://www.austinchronicle.com/calendar/music/
Here are my preferred avenues for listening and discovering new music:
Radio station websites (live streaming and other content -KUT, Sun Radio, KEXP are good ones)
YouTube (subscribe to your favorite channels for updates)
Spotify (I prefer over Pandora because I pick what I listen to, subscribe to or follow compilation playlists and then drill down into the various artists, follow your friends - check out the music they are listening to - that's the point)
NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
There is an amazing and plentiful amount of good music out there - a veritable smorgasbord/plethora - oodles gobs superabundance. You just have to be aware, listen, and look for it. I count myself lucky to be "into" music. I listen to it every day. Music completes me.
Good luck and good listening...
Sunday, February 12, 2017
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Saturday, February 11, 2017
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Interesting premise...this short film appears to be promoting an upcoming theatrical performance in Los Angeles...
Published on Jan 27, 2017
A Homeless man from Los Angeles meets Argentine Tango.
Coming soon, the show Exit 2 to Tango, developed by Guillermo De Fazio in 2017, a homeless war veteran living in the streets of Los Angeles,as a last resort, finds hope in his imagination. The union of the homeless character and Argentine Tango is inspired by the nostalgia present in Tango music, and in the city of Los Angeles, where exists the highest population of homeless in the entire United States.
About the Show
According to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center, there are currently 44,000 homeless people living in the streets of Los Angeles. Guillermo De Fazio, choreographer, dancer, and writer of Exit 2 to Tango, analyzes and projects this phenomenon through his portrayal of a homeless war veteran, with his mastery of Argentine Tango. With 22 years of Tango performance and travel, Guillermo uses his theatrical tools to expose the melancholy that is dominant in Argentine tango, and in the city of Los Angeles. This theatrical and interactive performance invites the audience to watch, but more importantly experience the nostalgia, irony, comedy, and mixture of emotions that are present in tango, and present in our every day lives here in Los Angeles, California.
Adapted by the author from Tango Stories: Musical Secrets, 2nd edition, milonga press, 2014.
Listening to tango dance music - A beginner’s guide
hen listening to tango music for the first time, especially if our main experience of music has been modern pop music, it can be difficult to hear what is going on, and what we hear may well seem like a “wall of sound”. The good news is that listening to music is a faculty that we can develop. Attentive listening immediately changes our experience, making it richer, creating a relationship to the music. If you are a dancer, you dance what you hear, and so what you dance will immediately begin to change as well, without learning any new steps.
1. The four elements
Dance music can be thought of as comprising four elements: beat (compás), rhythm, melody, and lyrics. Lyrics are optional, although there are always feelings. The first step in developing our listening faculty is to learn to listen to these four elements. These form four listening skills, which for the dancer will map to four dancing skills —the skills of dancing to the beat, to the rhythm, to the melody, and to the lyrics—.
Beat and rhythm are not the same. By beat we mean the regular pulse of the music. Beat alone is not music, but it is the foundation of music. We walk on the beats, and so without beat there is no walking dance. Beat is a natural, physical phenomenon, like the beat of your heart, or the cadence of walking, or breathing. Some people think of themselves as having «no sense of rhythm», but the beat is there within us, waiting to be discovered.
Beat and rhythm are connected, and it’s hard to find a tango that is pure beat (i.e. with no rhythmic variation), but there is one: Juan D'Arienzo’s “Nueve de julio” —curiously, and significantly, the breakthrough track for the new D’Arienzo sound— that was created by the arrival of Rodolfo Biagi in 1935.
By rhythm, as distinct from beat, we mean the changing pattern of the beats. A classic example is the opening of “Milongueando en el cuarenta”, recorded by Aníbal Troilo in 1941, with its tumbling syncopation: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2, 1.
The melody is what we sing to ourselves, or to others, when we recall a song: the tune. The more romantic orchestras prioritise the melody over the beat and the rhythm. This is something we hear developing in the later recordings of Di Sarli. For an earlier example, we can turn to Lucio Demare’s iconic 1942 recording of “Malena”, his own composition. The melodic line is vigorous and clear, and thus easy to follow.
Finally we have the lyrics – meaning. This element is hidden if we don’t speak Spanish. As an example, let’s take Ada Falcón’s 1940 recording of “Te quiero” (“I love you”) with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro. The opening lines run:
I love you!
As no-one has ever loved you,
and no-one ever will;
I adore you!
As one adores the woman
one has to love…
Hearing these words is sure to change your relationship to the song, and to arouse feelings, perhaps memories, which can then become enfolded into the music and expressed in your dancing.
The tango orchestras mix and prioritise these elements differently and this is one way to feel the orchestras and to distinguish them.
Beats are not all the same —they have their qualities—, and each orchestra has a different quality to its beat. A first attempt to discern and feel these qualities would be to classify them into polar opposites: hard or soft, strong or weak, sharp and choppy (staccato) or rounded and smooth (legato). D’Arienzo’s beat is staccato, a development that reaches its zenith with Biagi (e.g. the extreme beat of “Racing Club”); whilst Caló’s beat is smooth and soft (“Al compás del corazón (Late un corazón)”). Troilo is more sophisticated, moving between staccato and legato (“Milongueando en el cuarenta”, 1941).
This analysis breaks down when one starts listening to music from before the golden decade. The beats of Roberto Firpo (“La eterna milonga [b]”, 1929) or Juan Maglio (“Sábado ingles”, 1928) are strong, but also soft. In this period, most of the orchestras made a prominent use of the arrastre in their music. Now, what is the arrastre? It is when the beat, instead of being something instantaneous, is made longer, starting quietly and accelerating to a crescendo. In tango, this is described by the sound zhum (written: yum). This effect can be produced on all the instruments within the orchestra. In the bandoneon, it is produced by keying the note before opening the bellows, and then accelerating the opening to a sudden stop: listen for instance to the opening of “Melancólico”. In the strings, the bow is placed on the string before it is moved, and then accelerated. If you are not used to listening for this, it’s easiest to start with the double bass rather than the violins, for instance in the opening of Piazzolla’s “Buenos Aires hora cero”. From the point of view of walking, the most important of the string instruments is the double bass, because it’s the low notes which produce the beats upon which we walk. When going on to listen to the violins, the opening chord of Di Sarli’s “Retirao” provides an exaggerated example.
When the whole orchestra joins in, the effect can be dramatic. My favourite example is a recording by Osvaldo Fresedo’s sextet, “Mamá… cuco” (1927). This reveals another side to Fresedo, full of bite. The arrastre would not be so prominent again until Osvaldo Pugliese incorporated it into what he called la yum-ba: the repeated cell of two strong arrastres (‘yum’) on beats 1 and 3, separated by a less powerful chord on beats 2 and 4 (‘ba’), supported by the double bass powerfully striking the strings with the bow.
The qualities of the beat will affect the quality of the walk. Dancing to different orchestras is not principally about choosing different figures for different kinds of music, although we might: it is about manner. The different qualities of beat inspire different qualities of walking —different ways to place out feet upon the floor—. The arrastre in particular can have a big impact on the way the weight is transferred across the foot.
Rhythm and syncopation
The main rhythmic devices in tango are syncopations —beats falling in unexpected places—.
Let’s start with D’Arienzo. Principally, he uses the syncopa, tango’s classic syncopation – in Western terms, the behind-the-beat syncopation: listen for instance to the first syncopations in “Don Juan (El taita del barrio)” (1936). For a dancer, the staccato acceleration of the syncopa is strongly suggestive of a corte, a cut step. These syncopations often occur in bursts of three —useful information for the dancer—.
Listen closely, and you’ll hear that each syncopation is actually a double syncopation – a behind-the beat syncopation followed by a different one, a before-the-beat syncopation. This is normally much quieter, so we don’t notice it, but when equal prominence is given to both, the result can be disconcerting, as in the opening beats of D’Arienzo’s “Homero” (1937). You can also hear this combination at the opening of all three of Di Sarli’s recordings of “Organito de la tarde”.
Another classic syncopation is the 3-3-2 syncopation (counting 8 beats as 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2). In tango’s golden age, this is found only in the more sophisticated orchestras. Strong examples are Pedro Laurenz’s “Arrabal” (1937) and Troilo’s “Comme il faut” (1938) —both of them electrifying recordings—.
An even more sophisticated and unique example, which we might consider derived from the 3-3-2, is the tumbling syncopation that Troilo employs at the opening of “Milongueando en el cuarenta” (1941). Counting it out, we find that it runs: 3-3-3-3-2-2-1.
Melody is constructed in phrases, just like human speech. Phrases can be short or long. In the very early days of tango, the days of the 2x4, phrases were always short: think for instance of “El choclo” —but this would soon change—. The example par excellence of the long phrase in tango music occurs in Francisco De Caro’s “Flores negras” (1927), one of the most beautiful melodies ever written in tango. It’s also an excellent example of counterpoint: listen carefully to the opening phrases, and underneath the nasal tones of Julio De Caro’s cornet violin one can hear the second violin playing a completely different tune.
It’s beyond the scope of this essay to talk about lyrics in any depth, but it’s worth noting that in the golden decade, sad lyrics were often given a very bright treatment by the dance orchestras —just think for instance of Troilo’s “Toda mi vida” (1941)—. This creates a bittersweet quality, which is perhaps no accident. If you want to appreciate this, there is no alternative but to learn Spanish.
Mixing the four elements
Generally speaking, dance orchestras lean towards a treatment that favours either the beat and the rhythm (D'Arienzo), or the melody (late Di Sarli). When both aspects are given space, the results are very satisfying: think for instance of Ricardo Tanturi with Enrique Campos, or Ángel D'Agostino with Ángel Vargas.
2. The instruments
Having looked briefly at the way the orchestras treat the elements of beat, rhythm and melody, we can go look at the way they use the instrumental forces at their disposal: the bandoneons, the violins, and the piano. How much prominence is each section given? In the case of the bandoneons and the violins, are individual players given solos? If they are, is there something characteristic about their playing which allows us to enjoy and to identify individual musicians?
The D'Arienzo orchestra always had a terrific bandoneon section, and many pieces culminate in a variación showcasing the ability of the whole group. A classic early example, with very clear phrasing, is the variación in “Paciencia” (1937). Listen closely and you may also hear the delightful changes in rhythm (from 4 beats per note to 3) that D’Arienzo often employs in his variaciones.
The Troilo orchestra has a completely different way of using the bandoneons. Rather than featuring the whole section, Troilo’s solo playing is given space. Troilo was famous for the feeling he put into his playing, and on many occasions he makes music just on a single note: the supreme example is his solo at the end of the milonga “Del tiempo guapo”. His rather more famous solos in “La tablada” (1942) and “La cumparsita” (1944) also use very few notes, but feel more economical and modest, with a subtle, introverted feeling.
Another way of using the bandoneon is shown by fellow bandoneonista Pedro Laurenz. His orchestra makes use of running variations, in which the bandoneon doesn’t pause for breath. The bandoneon is bisonic: each button produces two different notes according to whether the instrument is being opened or closed. It’s easier to play the instrument with power when opening, because, with the help of gravity, the instrument falls open across your knee. For this reason, many players mostly play in the opening direction, and then quickly close the instrument in order to return to that opening direction. Laurenz, on the other hand, just keeps going – listen to any of his orchestra’s recordings from 1940, such as “No me extraña”. This is virtuoso playing, requiring a total technical mastery of the instrument.
There are other bandoneon players whose sound we can identify. Osvaldo Ruggiero, Pugliese’s first bandoneon for 24 years, can be immediately identified by the piercing, sharp sounds he produces, for instance, in the 1944 recording of “Recuerdo” —the facility with which he dashes off the final variación makes it sound quite effortless—. One doesn’t realise how difficult it is until one hears it attempted by any other player.
Another bandoneonista with an individual sound is Minotto Di Cicco, Canaro’s first bandoneon for many years. Minotto was a real student of the instrument, producing chords with a wide spread of notes whilst always maintaining a very clean fingering. A good example of this can be found in “La muchachada del centro” from 1932.
The violin was a tango instrument from the very beginning, and there are a few orchestras which favoured the violins over the bandoneons. The classic example is the orchestra of Carlos Di Sarli. A useful listening example is the 1940 recording of the instrumental “El Pollo Ricardo”. Given the year of the recording (still in the aftermath of the D'Arienzo explosion) the playing is staccato and up-tempo, but the music is easily identified as Di Sarli from the piano playing. In the first chorus, the bandoneons are used to support the sharp attack in the string sections.
An even sharper attack can be heard from the violin of Raúl Kaplún, who joined Lucio Demare in 1942. This added strength to Demare’s lyrical sound, a combination you can hear from the opening notes of “Sorbos amargos”.
Another orchestra with a muscular violin sound, although with a denser texture, is Tanturi during his years with Campos on vocals. The classic example is “Oigo tu voz”, in which the violin opens the piece.
D'Arienzo’s violin rejects all these possibilities, and returns to the violin obligato of the guardia vieja: not really a melody, but a simple line, played low on the fourth string, which threads its way through the music. You can hear it for instance in the closing passage of his first (1937) recording of “La cumparsita” —or just about anywhere in his music—.
The use of the piano within the orchestra shows huge variation, perhaps more than with the other instruments. In some sense, it is the axis, the spine of the orchestra. Its role can be restricted to accompaniment, as in Tanturi (e.g. “Pocas palabras”), but the great orchestras did more with it. The piano often appears in the gaps between phrases, where it has different functions. Sometimes, especially in valses, it links the phrases together, e.g. Osmar Maderna’s piano for Miguel Caló in “Bajo un cielo de estrellas”. Sometimes it punctuates the phrases, as with Biagi in D'Arienzo’s orchestra, e.g. “El choclo”. D'Arienzo’s piano is usually heard quite high on the keyboard: the marcato of his bandoneons is so strong that his pianists, unusually, do not need to do much work in the bass notes.
Di Sarli’s piano is also easiest to notice in the spaces between phrases, where he places delicate, bell-like trills, but the real action is going on in his left-hand. A good example is his version of “La cachila”, and not just because it contains a rare piano solo. Di Sarli recorded this twice, in 1941 and 1952. The two versions are quite different in the piano; both are good, but Di Sarli’s growling left-hand is easier to appreciate in the second version.
Finally we come to tango’s most brilliant improvising pianist, Orlando Goñi, a man whose contribution to the Troilo orchestra has not really received the recognition it deserves. Naturally, he shines most in the instrumentals. “C.T.V.” gives you a good idea of what he is capable of: he roams all over the keyboard with great freedom. In the right hand, he can imitate and reflect the phrasing of Troilo, as in the opening notes of “La tablada”; in the left-hand (the bass notes), his legendary marcación bordoneada —striking of a chord as though rolling up through the bass strings of a guitar— provides a fluid and elastic foundation to the rhythmic drive of the orchestra that has never been equalled.
The double bass
The bass notes of the orchestra give the walking impulse, and these come from the left hand of the piano and the double bass, which had to work together in the orchestras: the double bass was usually positioned very close to the piano. Today we mostly listen to tango music on recordings, on which these notes are not as loud as they are in real life. In addition, the sound system in the average milonga does not reproduce these notes very well, so we need to make a special effort to train our ears to listen for them. Most pop music has some kind of bass drive; the tango of the golden age was simply the popular music of its day, albeit some of the most sophisticated pop music the world has ever known.
For the dancer, being aware of both the beat/rhythm and the melody, and being able to separate them in our ear, expands the range of music that we enjoy and gives us freedom. In tango music, the melody is often given a rhythmic treatment. It’s often impossible to separate them entirely, but learning to discriminate between the melody and the rhythm is one of the most important skills of all.
Adapted by the author from Tango Stories: Musical Secrets, 2nd edition, milonga press, 2014.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Professor Timothy Snyder/Yale
Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.
1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.
6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don't use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps "The Power of the Powerless" by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.
--Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History, Yale University,
15 November 2016.
(PS: If this is useful to you, please print it out and pass it around!
1 December 2016)
(PPS: I removed a reference to a website, which as friends have pointed out is too context-specific for what has become a public and widely-read list. 2 December 2016)
Sent from my iPad