Thursday, May 26, 2005

New milonga

It's so rare to find a milonga that breaks new ground ... but this one sure sounds like one, from the group Electrocutango -- written, I guess, for Pablo Veron and the Oslo production of "Tanghost".

The song is "retrotango", and I've never heard so many references, or quotes, in a danceable modern piece: milonga, candombe milonga, brazilian, Piazzolla, D'Arienzo, Canaro, and Vince Guaraldi's sweet piano jazz (obviously a reference to his Brazilian collaborations).

I'll play it tonight, to see if people are excited about it.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

More gestalt evidence

After four months, or 32 milongas, of trying to create an evening with more "analog" methods (i.e. CD's) I'm certain that no system of CD's can ever achieve the quality in an evening possible using a laptop computer.

First of all, CD's are less holistic than a computer can be. You cannot adjust their relative volume on the fly. You cannot rearrange them on the fly, you cannot preview them easily ... but most importantly, absolutely, is that when you make a discovery, you'll lose it, if you don't write it down. And even if you do write it down, it is out of context, and you have to try to re-create the evening from your head or your notes ...

I've seen quite brilliant DJ's, like Alex Krebs & Robert Hauk, try to do this. The more I listen to their evenings, the more I feel they are limited by their technology. And what if someone is less brilliant or educated than they are? I don't know as much about musical structure as Alex, so I need to listen carefully, and make carefully considered Tandas, with careful notes, integrated with the music files. Otherwise I'll just forget good stuff, and I won't be able to improve bad stuff.

The cortina problem is typical ... some cortinas simply fit beautifully between two particular Tandas. But you don't always want to play those two tandas in a row. But having the same music on multiple CD's is maddening. I've tried it. It kinda works, but it doesn't work well. You'll end up limiting your range to compensate.

It's back to a laptop for me. A solid DJ laptop, the low-end iBook, isn't that expensive these days. But we'll be setting up a desktop (or two, for pair dj-ing) at the Tango Center's DJ station, so people can arrange their own playlists. And share their playlists with each other ... borrow & learn.

But I still believe real analog can beat digital ... live music: for dancers, for tango.

Pair DJ-ing

At the Tango Center last night in Eugene, I DJ'd together with Demetrius Gonzalez, who's part of the DJ pool at Homer Ladas' collective Cellspace milonga in San Francisco. Technically, "pair dj-ing" is pretty easy: two to three tandas per dj, and show each other what you'll be playing, so adjustments can happen on the fly. It probably gets better as DJs know each other better.

I think this is the second time I've shared DJ-ing a night: Jaimes Friedgen & I did it last weekend at the Tango Center, but it was more "I'll take the first half, you take the second". Still, Jaimes & I have a closer range of Tango music, so it sounded pretty smooth to the dancers.

Although I told Demetrius that we were doing a "traditional" night, I didn't explain what I meant by "traditional". At Cellspace, "traditional" apparently includes post-golden age covers, such as Hugo Diaz, Tubatango, Color Tango, etc. So, during my share, I stuck to Golden Age music, to keep the evening from getting out of people's normal range. I also tried to play three sets to Demetrius' two.

I liked his music, and enjoyed dancing to it. I've always enjoyed dancing at Cellspace. But Golden Age music is critical to a Milonga: it's very organically intertwined with Tango as a dance, and it helps you to play with dancing on the beat. But I also believe new music to be critically important too, in doses ...

... and when a real live Tango music scene re-emerges, I'm quite sure it will sound completely different than what anyone imagines.