I will be DJ'ing this weekend in Sweden for the Midnight Light Tango Festival in Umeå!
1. Carlos Di Sarli / Jorge Durán - "Duelo criollo" 1946
2. Carlos Di Sarli / Jorge Durán - "Para qué te quiero tanto" 1946
3. Carlos Di Sarli / Jorge Durán - "Mañana no estarás" 1946
4. Carlos Di Sarli / Jorge Durán - "No esperaba verte más" 1946
I was dancing to a tanda of Di Sarli/Durán at the TangoSauna Marathon and pointed out to my partner how a few of the songs finish a bit too early... how the structure of the song is not perfect. Let me explain....
The very classic, common, ideal and almost ultimate structure for a tango can be heard especially in many songs from the earlier 1940's. It's a very balanced structure with a clear progression and ending. Listen to "Vamos!" (Spotify - Deezer) by Carlos Di Sarli with Alberto Podesta and follow the picture below.
The colored blocks mark parts of the composition - main part 1 and 2 - chorus part 1 and 2... Listen carefully for the melody and how the orchestra plays. Within the first minute you will hear basically everything that the orchestra plays in the song as it is repeated again although now with the singer joining in. You will notice that - for example - all the orange blocks (at 0:31, 1:35 and 2:08) representing the first chorus part are all identical although the second one has the vocals. Why I call it the chorus part is for the fact that it is repeated again in the very ending after the vocal part at 2:08... first half instrumental (orange) and second half vocal (red).
This is a very common structure. Sometimes the last two chorus blocks would be both instrumental. Sometimes there's more variation in how the orchestra plays the part but the "blocks" are arranged the same. Understanding this gives us a lot of tools to understand the common structures of tango songs and predict what's ahead, even if we didn't know the song that well.
So basically in this style of arrangement the chorus is played three times - first instrumental, second vocal and third is most commonly a mix of instrumental and vocal . The fact that right after the second chorus (vocal) the song repeats and goes into the third chorus works as the finale, tells us that the song is wrapping up and we should get ready for the end as the theme and melody is repeated for us once more. Sometimes with a bandoneon or violin solo (variacion). Sometimes without them.
This is not the arrangement always. Not even in the 40's. But it is a common arrangement for a vocal song. One of the fundamental changes in the arrangements through time has been of course the part of the singer. In the early 30's the singer often sang only a small refrain in the end of the song while in the later 50's the singer would often engulf almost the entire song.
But this structure at hand gives a great satisfied and fulfilled feeling. There is nothing too much and nothing is left out. With this structure and a midtempo tango you would have a song that is around 2:30-2:50 in lenght. Right away, if I notice that a song is less than that or more than that, I will know that there's probably something different about the structure and arrangement. Take the two Di Sarli versions of "Fumando espero" for example, both recorded one month apart in early 1956:
Carlos Di Sarli / Argentino Ledesma - "Fumando espero" 4:02 Spotify - Deezer
Carlos Di Sarli / Roberto Florio - "Fumando espero" 1:53 Spotify - Deezer
The version with Argentino Ledesma is a whopping four minutes long, while the version with Roberto Florio is less than two minutes! The first one seems like it never ends while the second one feels like it was cut way too short. A lot better arrangement in that sense of the same songs is the following one:
Héctor Varela / Argentino Ledesma - "Fumando espero" 3:17 Spotify - Deezer
Now when we look at this weeks tanda... you can compare the song arrangements to the example of "Vamos!"....
...and you will notice that the third song "Mañana no estarás" is arranged differently from the others. The song is only two minutes and 18 seconds long so something is probably missing?!? Let's look into it. Yes... it starts the same with the main and chorus parts played as instrumental and then followed by the vocal version of the same parts... but once we get to the end of the vocal part there is no more repetition of the chorus! The repetition is missing! I feel cheated... empty... I was still saving my grande passion for the final part which never came. The song basically comes to a stop already before two minutes is up. Sigh.
Not only does the song feel like it's missing something, because of this missing part it stands out in a slightly negative way from the other songs. Not the end of the world of course but you know the feeling of confusion on the floor when everyone is like: "wow, I didn't think the song would end already".
Another similar song from Di Sarli with Durán is the beautiful "Tus labios me dirán" (Spotify - Deezer), which I'd love to play seven times a night but I always feel like it ends too soon. It's such a beautiful song but the arrangement could be better.
So when creating tandas or choosing songs I want to play, I always pay close attention to the structure and arrangement of the songs. If I want to play a song that has an arrangement that is cut short.... then I at least have to be aware of it and make it work.
To give an example of how it does not work.... I once heard the very short Di Sarli/Florio version of "Fumando espero" played as the very first song of the tanda. By the time the dancers got on the floor and got comfortable and ready to do their thing... the song already finished!
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
For other tandas and links to more information about Carlos Di Sarli and Jorge Durán check the links below!
Di Sarli, Carlos - TOTW - Todo Tango - tango.info - TangoTunes - iTunes Store
Durán, Jorge - TOTW - Todo Tango - tango.info - iTunes Store