Sunday, December 11, 2005

Different fusions

For each of the 200 or more milongas at the Tango Center, the music, the mood, etc, has been marvelously different. They've been all good parties, certainly. At least judging by the happiness of the majority. Certainly, individuals have bad nights ... their dancing is off, everyone else's dancing is off, no one danced with them, the room's temperature wasn't right, something really irritated them, the music didn't please them, etc.

Most of that stuff is part of life. And most of that stuff "gets worked out" in the long run. Dancing improves, adaptive ability improves, the party's mood lifts you beyond small concerns and large troubles ... and the music? The musical mix finds its own level: something that pleases most people, most of the time, and teaches tolerance to the rest.

This level is different in different places. And in many places there's no levelling at all: at Portland's Wednesday Nocturnal milonga, you don't know what you'll get, because the DJ's all have very distinct ideas about what should be played. I should say, you know what you'll get if you know the DJ's.

At the Cellspace milonga, on the same night in San Francisco, there's been a lot of discussion and trial and error regarding the appropriate mix for that milonga's community of dancers. And each time I go, I find it pretty much sounds the same. So you don't have to pay really close attention to the DJ's -- the mix is a very reliable "cellspace fusion".

Now, we in Eugene haven't really branded our fusion yet. It leans much more heavily in the Golden Age direction. And it has a taste for ethnic, alternative and nuevo music, in equal parts. It has no taste for traditional covers ... Color Tango, the movie 'Tango', etc. This is pretty distinct ... even in Buenos Aires, traditional covers are more accepted than they are in Eugene. I just danced at a few milongas in Moscow, and most of the music was traditional covers.

Eugene has a strong relationship with tough Golden Age music, because of who we invited to teach & DJ, because of the tastes of our instructors, etc.

But there's one more reason ... the Tango Center's experiments with live music. When live musicians tried to play for tango dancers, they often failed to make people happy. This became a real crisis ... some musicians were insulted, some retreated into Golden Age arrangements ... but ultimately we tried to look at the structure of golden age music to see why it worked.

Most people who don't like Golden Age music, don't like the 'antique sound' and/or the sound quality ... or at least, they don't like too much of it. Usually they're happier with the better Golden Age recordings, like Pugliese from the 60's, or Di Sarli from the 50's, or Canaro from those same periods. But there's a harshness to some of these Late Golden Age recordings (De Angelis & D'Arienzo's particularly), which are a product of their time -- although they're excellent dance pieces, you just shouldn't play them too much.

So, new live tango musicians need to look at pieces from the 1930's and 1940's to really understand what's going on. This is probably why we're still very much into it. Many of us would like to create a "Eugene Tango" new music scene, and Golden Age music is our reference point -- not the mixes of other tango comunities. The real fusion will be the product of this new, second golden age. I hope.


Blogger JendaPerl said...

I quite often with there was a real "revival band". Someone who'd study the old orchestras, selected the best pieces and tried to play them as close to the way they where played back then and recorded them with current technologies.
For example there's a lot of Lomuto I'd love to play but the recordings are so bad that I seldom dare.
There are swing orchestras that do things like this, why not tango?

3:45 AM  

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