Eastern Tango

About Tango

Tango is a musical style that originated in Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century. It shares common roots with the milonga, since tango and milonga are words of African origin. The massive arrival of lower class European immigrants in the ports of the Rio de la Plata region, mainly of Spanish and Italian origin, greatly influenced the development of tango.

Originally, tango was a dance, mainly instrumental music in 2/4 time, where dancing between men was the norm. The first orquestas típicas ("typical orchestras" - tango instrumental ensembles) of the formative period of the guardia vieja used guitars, violins and flutes. Later, the piano was added to this ensemble. The bandoneon, an instrument of German origin, was introduced to the region by immigrants in the early 20th century and, by the 1910s, it became the centerpiece of the orchestra típica. The association of tango with poverty and the sensuality of the dance led to its rejection by the local upper classes until it gained popularity in the salons of Paris.

Tipica orchestras coexisted with sung tango, often accompanied only by the guitar. The lyrics of sung tango tend to use lunfardo slang and its themes were originally simple and humorous in nature. Carlos Gardel was a pioneer in the use of poetic lyrics and emotionally charged songs, a style that became known as tango canzón. Gardel's 1917 song "Mi noche triste", considered the first tango canzón, marked the beginning of a period known as "guardia nueva". From then on, tango lyrics addressed themes such as longing, heartbreak and life on the margins of society. Gardel achieved international fame as a singer and movie star in the 1920s. By this time, the Tipika Orchestra had become a sextet consisting of two bandoneons, two violins, a piano and a double bass.

The 1940s were considered the golden age of tango, with commercial and critical success; however, by the end of the 1950s, tango declined in the face of foreign and local genres that were more appealing to younger generations. Astor Piazzolla played a fundamental role in the transformation of tango from a dance music to a music intended only for listening, introducing elements of jazz and western classical music into the genre. These innovations marked the end of the "Guardia Nueva" period and the beginning of the "Tango Nueva" period.

The end of the last military dictatorship in Argentina in 1983 led to a renewed interest in tango and its fusion with a wide variety of genres. The electronic music experiments of the beginning of the century gave birth to electro-tango.

Tango with oriental motif for guitar. Dance version from 19.11.2021, more difficult to perform: