First Pass at Performing Tango - First Step: Music Choice
Every once in a while, we come across a piece of music that virtually everyone loves. Tango to Evora is a great example. Everyone wants to dance to that music. Unfortunately, it doesn't make a good performance piece at all because it is consistently lilting and flowing with very little change in musical dynamic.
Ideally, look for changes of speed as well as changes in dramatic tension in the music. Typically, if the music doesn't have parts that are flowing and parts that are sharper or more dramatic, it doesn't really support the kind of variety the choreography must have to be successful.
----- Sample 1 -----
(Paraphrased from the website): Astillero was formed in 2005 with the defined purpose for creating and playing their own new compositions, as the past tango masters did.
----- Sample 2 -----
The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night-Apasionado
(Paraphrased from wikipedia): Piazzolla's tango was distinct from the traditional tango in its incorporation of elements of jazz, its use of extended harmonies and dissonance, its use of counterpoint, and its ventures into extended compositional forms. As Argentine psychoanalyst Carlos Kuri has pointed out, Piazzolla's fusion of tango with this wide range of other recognizable Western musical elements was so successful that it produced a new individual style transcending these influences.
----- Sample 3 -----
Bordoneo Y 900
(Paraphrased from creativetango.com): Color Tango was founded and is directed by Roberto Alvarez. Quoting Roberto Alvarez: "Our music is focused on what tango is for: the dance. Tango had a bad time, when orchestras dissolved."
----- Sample 4 -----
Carlos Di Sarli
RCA Victor 100 Años: Carlos Di Sarli
(Paraphrased from todotango.com): He, as nobody else, knew how to combine the rhythmic cadence of tango with a harmonic structure, apparently simple, but full of nuances and subtleties.
----- Sample 5 -----
Nothing Else Matters
(From the website): Since they formed in 1993, Finnish orchestral rock band Apocalyptica has released six studio albums featuring numerous cello-based instrumentals along with some vocal-based songs. Whatever styles they’ve explored – from atmospheric interludes to fast, battering rhythms -- their music has been gripping, dynamic and full of melody.
- When you listen to this music, is this a good performance music?
- And, it's very driving, which is good, because it really makes you want to move.
- But, on the other hand, and this is Anden by Astillero,
- It's like this the whole song. Which is a lot of drive. And so, eventually, you have enough.
- So, here he's talking. There's a little of variety. But it's actually not varied enough.
- It's a great song. It has a lot of drive. You want that drive. But you want more variety.
- Likewise, this song, Bailongo by Astor Piazzolla has this great energy.
- But, likewise, it stays more or less the same most of the song.
- So, one thing you want is variety.
- So that the music...
- Can give you natural excuses to change what you're doing. So you keep the audience's attention, right?
- So they can zone out very easily. And you want to make sure it stays varied, so they don't.
- So, this is Bordoneo y 900.
- And this is ... Very varied, actually, it has this da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, and...
- And then it changes. This is same song, completely new energy. So, this is a good choice.
- And, in general, you want songs that have more drive to them, as well.
- So, for example, if you look at some of the traditional stuff,
- Which is beautiful music, but not what you normally perform to.
- Because, for example... let's see.
- So, this doesn't have the same drive to it.
- So, you might do this in a demo, for social dancers. But you wouldn't do it on a stage, for non-tango dancers.
- Or, even as a dramatic thing, stage tango, right?
- It doesn't have that same "Boom", that makes you want to, really sort of agonizing move... Agonizingly beautiful movement.
- Now, there is this rule of thumb I'm saying, that you want the songs to have drive, and be varied.
- But there are exceptions. So, for example, you'll see, on our website we'll have... Let's see, what's it called...
- "Nothing else matters" by Apocalyptica.
- And it doesn't have a lot of variety at all.
- But it's really beautiful. And so, there are some songs which fall in this class of sort of sweet beauty.
- Which, as long as you can stay in this energy of the romanticism of it, it really works.
- I would say this shouldn't be a first performance, though,
- Because it's a tougher thing to do. You don't have this variety to keep the audience's interest.
- In general, though, there's also... I want to make the comment, that...
- For some of the performances that we've choreographed or done,
- There's a free program "Audacity". And you can do a little bit of music editing.
- So, for example, if a song is too long. You usually don't want a routine which is to a 5 minute song.
- Right? No matter how good you are, it's hard to keep the audience's interest for 5 minutes.
- So, what you'll do is you can just find a chunk, where it's very natural to take out a piece of music and smush it together.
- Where you might do a cross-fade. Or you might fade it to nothing. Cut out a chunk, then fade it back in. Something like that.
- And... So, summary: we have music that has lots of variety, has a lot of drive.
- Target length is between 2 and a half and 3 and a half minutes. If it's longer, you can cut it.
- And all rules are made to be broken.