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History and Origins of The Tango

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Music
Wordcount: 1292 words Published: 11th May 2021

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The Tango of Music

Music can be cherished as one of the most crucial forces in human life. It remains acceptable to play music no matter the occasion. Whether at a funereal, a graduation, or just in the background while studying, the collective nature and various functions of music play a pivotal role in everyday life. Interaction with music is unavoidable, so people find ways to relate whether through listening, preforming, or creating. Music stands a universal language where everyone can understand the mood or tone that is intended to be set. Music takes numerous different forms that its own definition can be up for interpretation. For instance, any type of vibration can be deemed as music, it is all up to the opinion of the creator or the listener. Every current and past cultures and societies produce their own individual patterns and styles of music. A style of music that is unignorably unique and individualistic remains that of tango.

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 The tango is viewed globally as one of the most flexible forms of music. This is widely due to its ability to change with its surroundings, music styles, or other popular media. Evidence of such can be viewed through the various and changing styles of tango with Electro Tango or Tango Nuevo. The most common instruments in tango are the guitar, piano, double bass, bandoneon, violin, flute, and vocals. When vocals are involved, it is usually in the Spanish language. Tango generally consists of a 2/4- and 4/4-time signature. The music is heavily in synch with rhythm and uses a 4/4 measure. The measure is very similar to that of rumba and Cubano styles (MasterClass 3).

The exact origins of Tango remain somewhat unknown and are lost in unrecorded history and myth. Each different theory belongs to a group of fanatical advocates. Where there is no way to know the exact origins, the commonly recognized theory remains that tango was brought by African slaves to Argentina in the 1800’s. The word tango both from African and Portuguese languages means to be close and to touch. Regardless of the word’s technical origin, tango acquired the meaning of a place to dance among freed slaves in Argentina (Brown 1). The earliest evidence of tango music being preformed and sung on stage comes during the mid-nineteenth century in Buenos Aries, Argentina. This tango music would not be considered tango today.  This style of tango was often played in nightspots or brothels, but only with the instruments of a flute, violin, and guitar. Thus, adding to difference when compared to modern tango (Denniston 2).

In addition, a tango written by Rosendo Mendizabal called El Entrerriano is historically deemed as the oldest tango that is still in the modern repertory of Tango music. Medizabal kickstarted the popularity of tango music, so much so that soon after he produced his song, tango music started to become recorded. These recording would consist of numerous variations from each other. For instance, one performance would be comprised of vocals and a guitar while others would be made up of an entire brass band. Early recordings of tango had a very Spanish feel but lacked all the strong influences that became integrated in modern tango (Denniston 3). The first great tango was written by Angel Villoldo around 1905 and was called El Choclo (Hudson3).

Argentina experienced a large influx of European immigrants during the turn of the nineteenth century. Over a 50-year period, the Buenos Aries population rose by approximately 1.3 million people. Large influxes of Italians, British, Polish, and Russian immigrants caused an intermixing with the native Argentines and Africans. The immigrants were mostly young men looking for their fixations of money in the newly expanding country and would bring the money back to Europe or bring their new families to Argentina. This immigration caused a large melting pot of cultures, and the new Argentina culture would borrow the song and dance styles from immigrants. The new style of tango had a profound integration of the feeling of loss and longing for the things left behind in immigrant’s home countries (Brown 3). The new influences also brought the lyrical style of the bandoneon and violin and to tango music, which is a key characteristic of modern tango.

By 1912, Tango had its first popular recording artist. Juan Maglio, otherwise known as Pacho, experienced huge success in Bueno Aries. He is the first conformed artist to implement the bandoneon into their music. It is around this time that dance was paired with tango music, adding to its enormous success (Hudson 5).  During the early 1900’s, tango began spreading around the world when wealthy Argentines traveled to countries seeking cultural innovation, such as France. By 1913, tango was widely popular in New York, Paris, and London (Brown 6). Argentine elite who once shunned tango music now had to accept it with national pride. The golden age of tango during the middle of the 20th century caused new musicians to take the music to new directions (Hudson 15).

When Argentina was taken over by the same coup that overthrew the Argentine president Juan Peron, the citizens were barred from anything that implied nationalism or support for Peron. Not only were the citizens of Argentina to express their political views, but also were stopped from preforming and creating tango music. A ban of a groups of more than three meant to stop political protest and tango performances and dancing. The restrictions caused tango to go underground (Denniston 15). Some artists, such as Astor Piazzolla, left Argentina before the government was overthrown. Piazzolla integrated components of American and European music to tango. While he was widely popular around the world, Argentines disliked Piazzolla’s tango music due to its nontraditional nature, but Piazzolla’s worldwide success softened their opinions. a new form of tango with jazzy rhythms was born called tango nuevo.

Furthermore, tango remained underground until the 1983 when the coup finally fell. Tango was pushed back into the spotlight with the worldwide hit tv show Tango Argentino. People began to dance for the first time in 30 years and younger citizens were forced to piece together dances. The reopening of tango caused a large demand for the music in forms of CDs, cassettes, and radio stations. The tango music that is popular today is still largely influenced Piazzolla’s. Young tango artists are realizing that many people are coming to tango music through dance and look to the golden age of tango for inspiration (Denniston 17).

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Music stands a universal language that is cherished by everyone that listens. It has always been a vital force in human existence. The diverse and moldable nature of has caused it to take different shapes. The Argentine music of tango has taken many different stages of life through the years. From the beginning days of implementing few instruments and having little background to today with a large ensemble of instruments and unique cultural integrations. Tango music has a deep meaning for the stories of the experiences of Argentines during specific periods. Ever since the twentieth century, tango music and dance have been wowing individuals across the world to become a hit music sensation.







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