mixing singers in one tanda

This is a personal note on mixing singers. Generally, this is not advisable and should be avoided to the extent practicably possible. When it comes to each Orquesta, though, as a matter of personal preference (I confine the discussion to music of golden era and I have assumed, for the present purpose, that we are talking about music of similar speed/period for otherwise it would be objectionable per se whether singers are mixed or not): –

  • D’Arienzo: it is NOT acceptable to mix Echagüe and Maure in one tanda. Indeed, in an ideal world Maure should not be mixed with anyone. Sometimes Echagüe can go with other singers, including Laborde, depending on track/year.
  • Di Sarli: in principle should NOT mix Rufino, Podestá and Durán with each other. In certain cases though, same year Rufino and Podestá can go together (but – apologies for the cliché – in an ideal world this should not happen).
  • Pugliese: personally, no objection to mixing certain Chanel and Moran, depending on individual tracks obviously (Jorge Vidal is rather unique though). In principle, I see no reason against mixing 50s singers either.
  • Tanturi: do NOT mix singers. Don’t, don’t mix Castillo and Campos, por favor.
  • Calo: do NOT mix Beron with others (not that I like him – just his voice is very different). I am open to mixing other singers with each other, e.g. within Iriarte, Podestá, Ortiz and Arrieta.
  • D’Agostino: should always go with Vargas, no?
  • Laurenz: no objection in principle, but watch out the speed and mood of tracks.
  • Demare: for the same reason above, try NOT to mix Beron with others. Otherwise, no objection in principle.
  • Biagi/Rodriguez/De Angelis: no problem.
  • Donato/Lomuto/OTV: no problem.
  • Fresedo: I prefer not mixing Ray and Ruiz but I can see it’s a common practice in many places and I don’t feel very strongly about it anyway.
  • Canaro: obviously, do NOT mix Maida with others. The Canaro sound with Maida is quite different. Among other singers, mixing is fine.

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milongas and valses

My principle of playing milongas/valses is simple: always, always the most popular tunes only. Never experiment with milongas/valses. There are several reasons for it, the most obvious being that the number of milongas or valses tandas you can play throughout the night is very limited. It is almost once every hour, and DJs need to bear in mind that for people who like milongas/valses, they have to wait five tandas to have one. It will seriously upset them if they hear something unappealing after a long wait. The dancing mood will be adversely affected, and irreversibly so.

Another reason, which is more geographically specific, may be that Asians are generally less good in interpreting milonga and vals music. Milonga/vals music is faster, demands good sense of rhythm, and allows less room for pauses. These coincide with general weaknesses in Asian people’s dancing, so I tend to observe that milonga/vals is a more difficult genre of music for Asian dancers. It will ease the situation if the tunes played are familiar to the dancers’ ears; otherwise, the scene could be a bit disastrous to watch sometimes. Even for people who are fond of and good at milonga/vals music, most definitely prefer the classics than unknown stuffs. Not even one tanda a night, por favor.

If you have to introduce a very good but unheard / less heard milonga/vals, please make sure: (1) it has normal rhythm and basically predictable phrasing; (2) it comes as the second song of a tanda; and (3) it sits in harmony with other songs in the tanda and does not cut the energy or vary the flow.

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the Buenos Aires classics

Some people say DJs in Buenos Aires do not really know the music, compared to their European counterparts. I agree they may not be as knowledgeable. But Argentinians never have scholastic tradition – tango is in their blood. The music’s just played so I want to dance to it; simple as that. Importantly, most DJs in Buenos Aires do not seek to educate dancers, nor do they try their ass off to impress dancers. Milonga is not a place for them to experiment or to show off. They provide a service and make people happy without seeking much attention for themselves.

Apart from the attitude issue, there is also a taste/judgment issue. Some DJs back home are overly obsessed with non-classics, especially post golden age (or even contemporary) stuffs which are, without understating their artistic values, less danceable. For DJs lacking proper control/observation of the dance floor and flow, the energy level often goes low. These problems seldom occur in Buenos Aires’s city milongas: most of the time, they play the best of best music that makes you unable to sit. The time-tested classics are treasures of Buenos Aires.

During my recent visit (June-July 2014), the most played tandas in city milongas include:

  1. Juan D’Arienzo con Hector Maure, across the years
  2. Juan D’Arienzo con Alberto Echague, 1938-1939
  3. Anibal Troilo con Francisco Fiorentino, 1941-1942
  4. Anibal Troilo instrumentales, 1941
  5. Carlos Di Sarli con Roberto Rufino, across the years
  6. Carlos Di Sarli instrumentales, 1939-1947
  7. Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo, across the years
  8. Rodolfo Biagi instrumentales, across the years
  9. Angel D’Agostino con Angel Vargas, across the years
  10. Osvaldo Fresedo instrumentales, across the years

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Troilo/Marino 1943

Anibal Troilo con Alberto Marino, 1943

1. Tal vez sera su voz
2. Farolito de papel
3. Cuando tallan los recuerdos
4. Uno

Troilo’s partnership with Marino started in the year of 1943 and these are among the first records they made together. Troilo’s orquesta plays differently when Marino’s on the vocal than Fioretino – even for those songs at similar speed, you could sometimes tell whether it’s a ‘Marino song’ or ‘Fioretino song’ even before the voice comes in. Some ‘Marino songs’ contain more thoughts, more layers, more ‘colours’ and more ‘uncetainties’ – they may however be less vigorous than the ‘Fioretino songs’ and hence less appealing to the dancers, especially at peak hours of a milonga.

This tanda, nevertheless, could be great and powerful if played at a right moment in a right setting. It would be perfect coming after a hard rhythimic tanda, in particular with the quiet and delicate opening solo in ‘Tal vez sera su voz’ flowing from a violin – not a typical way for Pichucho to start the music, though. Compared to later ‘Marino songs’ (from 1945 onwards) which tend to carry more contrast and tension, the early ones are more tender and stable, but no less emotionally evocative.

Don’t forget – listen out for Orlando Goñi’s piano throughout the tanda. These are among the final works he did with Anibal Troilo.


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D’Agostino/Vargas 1941

Angel D’Agostino con Angel Vargas, 1941

1. Agua Florida
2. Adios arrabal
3. Una pena
4. Tres esquinas

There’s no originality in the organization of this tanda – I simply reproduced the most typical composition of a 1941 tanda of Angel D’Agositno with Angel Vargas you hear in Buenos Aires. The best stuffs stand the test of time. There is a lot of room for meditation in the tangos of Los Dos Ángeles. Some tranquility affords more volume than loudness.

“El Yacare” (1941) is another equally popular and excellent choice. I go with “Una pena” instead in this tanda just because it serves, in my view, a better transition from “Adios arrabal” to “Tres esquinas”.


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Torrente (Troilo/Marino)


Música: Hugo Gutiérrez
Letra: Homero Manzi

Solloza mi ansiedad…
También mi soledad
quisiera llorar cobardemente.
Angustia de jugar y de repente,
sin querer,
perder el corazón en el torrente.
Se queja nuestro ayer…
Se queja con un tono de abandono
que recuerda con dolor
la noche del adiós…
la noche que encendimos de reproches
y el amor pasó.

la triste y la más gris canción de amor.
el último y fatal ayer final.
Fue mi desprecio, mi desprecio necio.
Fue tu amargura, tu amargura oscura.
Nuestro egoísmo nos lanzó al abismo
y nos vimos de repente en el torrente
más atroz.
Torrente de rencor
brutal y cruel
que ya no ofrece salvación.


La voz de oro del tango – Alberto Marino’s singing. A real treasure. We hear it we know it.

When I was visiting Buenos Aires this June and July, tandas of Anibal Troilo with Alberto Marino were more often played than usual in the milongas because it was around the centenary of Pichuco’s birth. Honestly, you cannot find a single bad song by these two: there are some not-so-good ones by Troilo with Fiorentino, but never with Marino.

This song is among the best of the best. Its opening line is breath-taking. It breaks my heart, when I feel every detail in it: how the melody flows, how Marino sings, and how those pauses and silence in between convey the unspeakable thoughts. Pay extra attention to the episodes of bandoneon solos and duets with violin in there: they are among the most beautiful and tender things I’ve heard in tango music. You’d better dance with an Argentine woman who understands this music and lyrics to know what I mean by that!

Also, there is another version by Lucio Demare:

Apparently but not surprisingly, this is a far less striking version.

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Tanturi mixed 1940-41

Ricardo Tanturi, mixed instrumentals/Castillo, 1940-41

1. Argarañaz (1940)
2. Una noche de garufa (1941)
3. La vida es corta (1941), canta Alberto Castillo
4. Pocas palabras(1941), canta Alberto Castillo

You can dance to this tanda a thousand times in the milongas of Buenos Aires and will never grow tired of it.

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