Monday, December 13, 2004

Patterns of an evening

Sets of closely related songs give structure to the evening.

For recorded tango music, Tandas, or sets, consist of 3-5 solid, danceable recordings of a particular band (say, Di Sarli), of a particular era (say, the late 1930's), and a particlar genre (Vals, fast Tango, medium Tango, slow Tango, Milonga, candombe Milonga). Generally you try to make each Tanda coherent in itself ... playing profoundly with a particular range of moods, speeds, sounds, and rythms & melodies.

A wide range of music can punctuate the effect of a tanda.

Cortinas bridge bewteen two Tandas ... and contrast to them as well. It can be music with no relation to eaither Tanda, and which relate to other cortinas over the night. A cortina can also playfully suggest something from the previous Tanda, or suggestively lead into the next. The main purpose is to get people to stop dancing ... but also ....

The Alternative song Cortina
Sometimes a single alternative dance song fits just right in between two tandas.

If you want to play a chacarera, a salsa, swing, nuevo or alternative Tango song, later in the evening usually, it's not a bad idea to skip the cortina, and just play the alternative piece. This isn't always true ... especially if the crowd tends to dance to everything! But it is a useful pattern.

The odd song Tanda finish
Sometimes a single unrelated or alternative dance song makes the perfect ending for a Tanda.

The first three songs please you, but you can't finish it with the same band. You might find another piece, or an alternative dance piece, that complements the mood.

Tango-Tango-Vals-Tango-Tango-Milonga [repeat]
The large-scale structure of an evening

Usually you want to start an evening with a few sets of tango, and slow-to-medium speed, but exciting in some way. Then a Vals set, then one or two Tango sets, then a Milonga set ... then repeat. Approximately. Milonga sets are the only thing you can have too much of ... it depends on the number and energy of the crowd ... but this meta-structure works well.


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