Music for Dancers New to Argentine Tango

by Stephen and Susan Brown

Carlos Di SarliA guide to the recordings best-suited for dancers first learning to hear the rhythm of Argentine tango music.

Overview
The Recordings
Where to Buy

Overview

Outside of Argentina, most people do not grow up hearing tango music. Consequently, many beginning dancers face the challenge of finding music that is useful for learning to hear and move to the beat of tango. Many instructors recommend beginning with the music of the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra, and we consider that a good recommendation.

We think, however, that the beginning dancer will do better by listening and moving to the tangos on Francisco Canaro's La Melodia de Nuestro Adios and Miguel Caló's Yo Soy el Tango before moving onto Di Sarli. The tangos on these two CDs are among the very best for learning the walking rhythm of tango because they have a clear and simple beat that is stronger and closer to a walking tempo than that found on Di Sarli recordings. We recommend working with the tangos on the Canaro CD first because they are somewhat slower in tempo than those on the Caló CD.

After learning to move to the tangos on the two Canaro and Caló CDs, many beginning dancers are ready to listen and move to the instrumental tangos of Carlos Di Sarli.  The best available Di Sarli CD is Solo Tango: Instrumental Vol. 1. The tangos on this CD have a clear and simple walking beat for dancing. The release RCA Victor 100 Años is nearly as good.  The Tango Argentino release Instrumental is a decent third choice.  For those wishing to add a vocal dimension to Di Sarli's music, the CDs Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1 with singer Roberto Rufino or Porteño y Bailarin (Tango Argentino) with vocalist Jorge Duran are outstanding choices.

After learning to move to Di Sarli, the beginning dancer is ready to move onto the rhythm king, Juan D'Arienzo. To learn to hear and move to the 2x4 rhythms of Juan D'Arienzo, El Esquinazo 1937-1938, or Instrumental, vol. 1 are the best choices.  For D'Arienzo, El Esquinazo has the best set of tracks in the best-sounding collection of D' Arienzo's classics.  Instrumental, vol. 1 has more of D' Arienzo's classic instrumentals than any other CD and very good sound quality.  Other choices are Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 1, Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 2, or El Rey del Compas.

After D'Arienzo comes the more subtle Anibal Troilo and Ricardo Tanturi with Alberto Castillo.  The CDs Yo Soy El Tango (Troilo en RCA) and Instrumental (Tango Argentino) are the best choices for Troilo's early instrumentals.  The CD Troilo/Fiorentino (Solo Tango) captures Troilo with the vocalist Francisco Fiorentino.  Much of the best material from these three CDs can be found on the more widely available El Inmortal Pichuco (El Bandoneon) but at much lower fidelity.  For the Ricardo Tanturi orchestra with vocalist Alberto Castillo, the Solo Tango release, Tanturi/Castillo is a great choice.  The Tanturi/Castillo CDs, Tangos de mi Ciudad and El Tango es el Tango are also quite good.

The next challenge is to move onto the music of De Angelis, Pugliese and Biagi.  The music of Alfredo De Angelis provides a good bridge from Di Sarli to Pugliese because the De Angelis orchestra played solid dance music that has a feel between the smoothness of Di Sarli and the drama of Pugliese.  For Alfredo De Angelis, either From Argentina to the World or Instrumentales Inolvidables would be a good choice.

For a dancer moving onto the more challenging rhythms of Pugliese, the CD Ausencia captures dance classics from both early and later in his career, showing his transition from more solid dance rhythms to the more challenging, but wonderfully compelling La Yumba beat.  The CD Instrumentales Inolvidables is a good second choice.

Rodolfo Biagi—who was a pianist in the first Juan D'Arienzo Orchestra—took D'Arienzo's direction of playing in a 2x4 rhythm but added striking rhythmic elements of his own. Dancers who are comfortable with D'Arienzo's music are ready to tackle Biagi’s music. For those first listening and moving to Biagi, good choices are Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez (EMI Reliquias) and the somewhat lower fidelity Campo Afuera (El Bandoneon).

bandoneon - back to top

The Recordings

  1. Francisco Canaro
        La Melodia de Nuestro Adios  (El Bandoneon)
        Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango  (Blue Moon)
  2. Miguel Caló
        Yo Soy el Tango  (El Bandoneon)
  3. Carlos Di Sarli
        Instrumental Vol. 1  (Solo Tango)
        RCA Victor 100 Años
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino)
  4. Carlos Di Sarli with vocalists
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol.1 - with vocalist Roberto Rufino  (Tango Argentino)
        Porteño y Bailarin - with vocalist Jorge Duran  (Tango Argentino)
  5. Juan D'Arienzo
        El Esquinazo 1937-1938  (RCA 70 Años)
        Instrumental Vol. 1  (Solo Tango)
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino)
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 2  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
        El Rey del Compas  (El Bandoneon)
  6. Anibal Troilo
        Yo Soy El Tango  (Troilo en RCA Victor)
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino)
        Troilo/Fiorentino  (Solo Tango)
        El Inmortal Pichuco  (El Bandoneon EBCD 1)
  7. Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo
        Tanturi/Castillo  (Solo Tango)
        Tangos de mi Ciudad  (Tango Argentino)
        El Tango es el Tango  (Tango Argentino)
  8. Alfredo De Angelis
        From Argentina to the World  (EMI)
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias)
  9. Osvaldo Pugliese
        Ausencia  (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2)
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias)
10. Rodolfo Biagi
        Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez  (EMI Reliquias)
        Campo Afuera  (El Bandoneon 40)

bandoneon - back to top

Where to Buy

Despite a growing number of releases over the past few years, distribution remains limited, and availability is a constant issue in obtaining recordings of Argentine tango music suitable for dancing.  For purchases in the United States, keep your eyes open and visit lots of compact disc stores and be prepared to mail order.  Barnes and Noble bookstores occasionally have a few CDs of good tango music for social dancing—particularly on the Blue Moon and El Bandoneon and Harlequin labels—along with extensive stocks of tango music completely unsuitable for social dancing.  Some large local stores near universities also stock a fair number of tango recordings, some of which may be suitable for social dancing.

Of the dealers in the United States, TangoCD.com has the most extensive list of recordings.  Zival's Tango Store in Buenos Aires has the most extensive list of recordings and ships promptly.  Owing to the distance, Zival's shipping costs are high and are best spread across a big order.  In the United Kingdom, Mike Lavocah's milonga.co.uk, has an extensive list of available recordings.  In Germany, Danza y Movimiento has an extensive list of recordings.

bandoneon - back to top

Tango Argentino de Tejas

Home   Video Resources   Tango Music   Other Topics   Dallas Tango   Links