Saturday, December 17, 2005

Warmth


The Tango Center is over a 100,000 cubic feet of space. Right now, it's below freezing outside, and we have holes in the ceiling and vents in the roof ... so, until our ceiling is sealed (something we're working on), heating the place is very hard.

As the temperature drops to about 62 degrees fahrenheit (17 C) people start to complain about the cold. As it drops to 60 F, they start to bundle up. At 58 F, they get manic, and try to dance continously, energetically.

So I was wondering ... what kind of Tango music can keep people warm?

Recording "warm tones" is a real acoustic engineering challenge, even today. You need the right microphones, positioned carefuly, on the right instruments ... and a good ear for mixing. Some of the recordings of the "new acoustic movement" in the 1970's (David Grisman is an example) began to approach the true quality of warmth.

So, clearly the original tango recordings before this time won't achieve this quality. But some of the older stuff is quite sensitive and tender, and people will often 'read' the warmth into the playback.

But when the room is cold, that doesn't help a lot.

Much of the modern electronic music doesn't try to be warm, although it tends to sound warmer than the very brassy recordings of Tango from the 50's & 60's. Late De Angelis, including one of my favorite pieces "Pavadita", sounds pretty cold in a cold room. The later Tango covers, like the post-Canaro, 1990's "F. Canaro Orquesta", sound even colder ... you can hear the pauses hanging in the air like icicles. Canaro would know better ... laying down lots of sound helps to make up for sound infidelity at all frequencies.

Luckily, with some late Piazzolla, we have explosive original pieces, semi-danceable, with good recording quality. If it's bitter cold, give them a try, at the end of each tanda. Then play some modern acoustic string instruments for cortinas. And the most romantic golden age songs you can find. That's the best I could come up with, on the spur of the moment yesterday.

I also threw in a Beach Boys song: "The Warmth of the Sun".

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