Tango as a phenomenon

Tango originated towards the end of the 19th century in Argentina, in the Rio del Plata area around the towns of Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Its roots go back to the music played by dock workers, but its beginnings around 1890 are connected with brothels.

The original instruments of tango were the piano, the flute and the violin. The bandoneon appeared later and replaced the flute. It is a small diatonic instrument (produces different notes on the push and the pull) originally invented in Germany. After 1900, tango was brought to Paris where it became popular, mainly thanks to the dance which was shocking, even almost scandalous for Europe at that time. In central Europe, dance brass bands and jazz orchestras played tango mainly in cafés. The golden times of tango continued until 1955 when tango was pushed aside by the big beat music. The modern form of tango (its concert form with jazz elements) was created by composer Astor Piazzolla as Tango Nuevo (new tango).

Czech tango-like songs (such as Cikánko ty krásná or Nikdy se nevrátí pohádka mládí by Karel Vacek)  have absolutely nothing in common with the Argentine tango. They use different rhythms, harmonies, lyrics, phrasing and instruments. If you are interested in more details, you can have a look at my diploma thesis (in Czech): Czech artificial music influenced by tango in history of European music during XX-th century.

A little composition for you

If you want to learn to play a “little tango” based on the rhythm and phrasing of the Argentine tango, you can try Tanguito.

SCORES – PDF  MuseScore

To learn the accents and dynamics, you should listen to the recording while you follow the score. This is one of my short instrumental compositions I started to write for my students at ZUŠ Vítězslavy Kaprálové, a music school in Brno.

text, sheet music and recording | Klára Veselá
published on 24/10/2016