Thursday, 16 July 2009

Color Tango - Music Map

I saw the Color Tango talk last Thursday and couldn't write it up because I was away. It's a real bonus if you are ignorant about music, like me; they walk you through the history of tango from the last decades of the 19th century up to the end of the Golden Age, demonstrating everything as they go. You get an overview of what's important, what order it goes in, and what the music of the different eras sounds like, and why. People who are quite a lot less ignorant than me liked it too, especially the demonstrations (all-orchestra percussion! wow!).

They had lots to say about the musicians of different eras, their skills, and the way arrangements and the choice of instruments gradually developed from when the music started being written down. They showed us how the instruments of a typical tango orchestra - bandoneón, piano, violin, and double bass - are used for percussion in creative ways. And they showed how guitar, voice, and woodwind came in more, or less, at different times.

The part about Pugliese was particularly interesting because two of the band members were in Pugliese's orchestra for a long time. Roberto Alvarez was 1st bandoneón and arranger, and he explained and demonstrated the difference between what Pugliese wrote down and what he actually wanted played. This part is clearer on the DVD than it was live, although I'd certainly suggest going to one of their talks if you possibly can because it's always better to feel the music being played. And the camerawork on the DVD misses other important things.

I liked the way every band member had his and her piece to explain. I found that very engaging. It feels like a team effort of research and presentation. The musicians aren't just instrument players.

I bought their DVD, which was only a tenner and has the lecture on it. It has a near-professional-quality English translation, plus captions to help you keep track of all the names and to tell you exactly what you're listening to. Now I have a long list of music I'd like to buy. I personally like some of the very oldest music a lot - music for dancing on a dirt road rather than a ballroom floor. But that's just me. And I adored their Cumparsita with the clarinet. Unfortunately the DVD doesn't seem to be on the website.

Tangocommuter has video of them playing for dancing on the Friday, and a description of their music with some pointers to related bands.


Simba said...

I would LOVE to go to one of those seminars/lectures. Alternatively getting one of those dvds. I have heard them play several times, and they are always excellent!

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

I wish I had the opportunities to attend one of these lectures. The Europeans are more fortunate than North American. It seems all the good tango people are working in Europe.

Henry ( said...

I also would enjoy hearing their talk. Do you know where we could buy their lecture on DVD?

Joli said...

The lecture sounds amazing! What a fantastic idea, it certainly gives a deeper appreciation of the history and music. Color Tango is one of my favourite orchestras, I have been lucky enough to see them perform a few times.

tangocherie said...

I too would love to get the DVD of that lecture! Tango dancers need to learn more about the music.

Some years ago I attended a tango festival in Los Angeles where Color Tango played for the milongas. I've also seen them perform here in BsAs several times.

msHedgehog said...

I don't know how to get a copy, as it isn't on the website and doesn't seem to be among their CDs on Amazon. But Tangocommuter has been emailing around trying to find out - I daresay he'll post if he has any success.

msHedgehog said...

Oh, I've just found this bit of the website, which has details of the 'workshop' if not the DVD, and what's needed if you'd like to arrange one.

Dave said...

If you click on the link at the bottom of the Seminario page, you end up here:

Although it looks like it's just a CD, there's only about 20 minutes' worth of music listed, so I'm guessing that this is the lecture in question with the tracks being used as illustrations.