Monday, January 26, 2009

The Basics

I just wrote this quick letter to a Tango instructor who is now considering Dj-ing a Saturday evening at the Tango Center.


Here are some DJ basics.

At the TC, we always start out with sets of Tango that are on the slow side, for the beginners' sake, with a steady beat but interesting enough for advanced dancers. The slow Di Sarli works well, but so do appropriate pieces by Calo, Canaro, De Angelis, Orchesta Tipica Victor, etc. Using fast tangos to start will fail, miserably.

Inside of most tandas (there are always exceptions) it's important to build up, from slow-to-fast. Think of a tanda as a story, typically with a climax. Also, it's important to put the most familiar or interesting songs at the beginning and at the end, to draw people onto the floor. Slow familiar songs at the start of a Tanda are always a good idea. But, super-exciting songs (Donato's El Huracan comes to mind) can also launch a tanda.

The tanda size that works best is three or four songs ... almost always of the same type of music (same band, same era, and of course, all Tango, all Vals or all Milonga) ... a consistent number (all three or all four) is more important than the actual number itself ... because people count songs. I always use four (except for milongas when I use three) but there's nothing wrong with three in Tango and Vals sets, if you always use three ...

The classic overall tanda structure is usually:


... then repeat ... this works really well.

To keep things interesting, it's important to avoid songs within a tanda that sound identical ... sometimes a band (Tanturi is a good example) will record two songs that essentially use the same rhythm, same tricks, the same key, the same singer, and a very similar melody. It's important to avoid putting those back-to-back! Also, you rarely want to play two covers of the same song near each other in an evening. There are lots of great songs ...

Good luck!"


Blogger Nicolas said...

A comment on how to build each tanda:

First, chose the general style/speed/genre of the tanda. Then, for the order, something like

1- The most well known and representative of the tanda so that dancers know what's coming.

2- The second most well known

3- A less often heard, more challenging one

4- A song that will make everyone happy.

10:13 PM  

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