Thursday, January 13, 2011

Foreshadowing and Alternative Tango Music

I met an eclectic and tasteful musician to whom I described Alternative Tango music. Helpfully, he gave me some wonderful music to listen to ... really brilliant stuff: authentic and inventive ... with the hope that I might be able to use some of it.

I know I can dance to some of it. I go to a lot of alternative Tango events just for fun. So I can do it. But I'm "looking for new songs". Because the alternative tango songs get boring pretty quickly. Good tango music shouldn't be like that. The great traditional music, which generally has poor sound quality and no hint of modern sensibility, is still easy to dance to over and over again. Sometimes it gets tiring, but there's something in the structure of the music that gives it legs. Let's call it "S".

I finally have realized the reason Alternative Music doesn't inspire Tango for very long. It's because the special quality, "S", needed by Tango cannot be "discovered" in a song. The song needs to be composed and played with "S".

I've also finally realized the essence of "S". It is foreshadowing. You need to build the music, or the song, with a lively attempt to communicate to the dancer (which could be an appeal to instinct or to intellect) the thing that is coming next. This "S" is everywhere in Golden Age tango music. You can find hints of it in other music -- a rhythm, after all, conveys a kind of primitive S, but doesn't change, so it's not interesting "S".

I don't think there will be a new Golden Age for tango music (and perhaps not for Tango dancing) until we see a modern, complex, interesting and exciting movement of composers who are interested in the foreshadowing that dancers need to help them decide upon their next steps.