Tango Negro, The African Roots of Tango

2014 April 2
by Simba

Now this looks interesting, a documentary about the African roots of tango. It’s featuring Juan Carlos Cáceres (of “Tango Negro” fame), of which I’m a great fan. One of the best concerts I ever attended was with Cáceres and band and Facundo & Kely Posadas performing.

You can read a bit more about the documentary at the ADIFF film festival pages.


The Impossibility of Re-Creating the Tango of Times Gone By

2014 March 27
by Simba
First Impressionism by OldOnliner, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  OldOnliner 

There is a paradox concerning my relationship with tango, and maybe with tango itself. On one hand, I want to learn from the sources, learn the ‘true’ tango.  If that even exists. On the other hand, I want to see progress, to move on, and to find or invent ‘my own’ tango. Which may not exist, either. This tension between a certain nostalgia and  the Sisyphean quest for the authentic, and the longing for progress, a rational approach, the tension between being controlled by the tango and taking control over the tango is at once frustrating and tantalizing.

We are, inescapably, products of our time. The way we dress, the way we talk and the way we move has changed in numerous ways over the years, not to mention growing up on a different continent. How the times we live in manifest themselves in people was beautifully captured by this interesting reflection upon the remake of the classic movie ‘Psycho’  in an article in The NewYorker:

The way that people carry themselves—their posture, their gestures, and even the micro-gestures, the sense of sharpness or tremulousness, the brusqueness or smoothness of movements, the pointedness or curves of joints, the decisive rapidity or easy offhandedness with which they move, and the precision or meander of speech—conveys more about their personality and their times than the overt signifiers of fashion or vocabulary.

I mentioned once before how I was fascinated by the refined, elegant movements  of’El Flaco’ Dany when he lit a cigarette. This fascination is despite me generally finding the the habit of smoking despicable. Still there was something about about his way, the micro-gestures, the way he carried himself that stays with me. I would never be able to make his way of lighting a cigarette my own, even if I tried. Even if I worked hard, the best I could hope to achieve would be a superficial resemblance, a bleak copy. A fraud.

We may learn from the best, the ones that lived during the golden age of tango, or at least from those few who remain.  We may keep trying, but we will never dance their tango. We are left to find our own.

Glorias del Tango — New Tango Feature Film

2013 August 7
by Simba

This new project looks interesting, you can support it on kickstarter. Not sure I believe the story, but the flashbacks look promising. On the other hand, it sounds much more believeable than Assasination Tango.

“Glorias del Tango” is an ambitious and exciting feature film that will end the decade-long silence of tango on the silver screen.

I’m looking forward to it. Time to revive the tango film club?

Guide To Tango Music Stores

2013 May 23
by Simba
Last Memory of a Record Store by Telstar Logistics, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  Telstar Logistics 

Tangohub beat me to it. Head over there for a comprehensive guide to stores for buying tango music online. It’s written from a UK perspective, but most of the stores mentioned are international.

I would mention Tangostore also (aka Zival’s), but they have been offline for a while.

Tango Tunes Website Up

2013 May 7
by Simba


The long awaited TangoTunes project website is now online and accepting purchases. I’ll start by checking out the few Troilo recordings they have available at the moment. The purchase went through very smoothly.

This is how they present themselves:

TangoTunes is an Austrian-Argentine project with the aim to preserve the music of Tango Argentino. This way, we also preserve and support a piece of Argentine culture, which was declared World Heritage several years ago.

In cooperation with TangoVia Buenos Aires we promote the project “Tango Digital Archive” with the goal to archive the recordings and documents of Tango Argentino in their entirety.

TangoTunes purchases selected collections of vinyl and shellac records from collectors in Argentina and digitizes them in a highly difficult process. Since the beginning of 2013, approximately 1.000 vinyl records and 5.000 shellac records are successively being digitized with precision and care. We offer these Tango recordings – our „tunes“ – to Tango lovers in our online store. Our product catalog is constantly expanding – it pays off to have a look more frequently!

Founded in 2013, TangoTunes is a young company located in Vienna, Austria and a branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We spend much time and care to restore the music of Tango Argentino as close to the original as possible. This not only requires much know-how and experience, but also great appreciation for the original and tenacious work for an ideal final result.


More Fast Transfers

2013 May 7
by Simba
Unbelievable!!! by Aleera*, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Aleera* 

I have previously discussed too fast transfers from 78s. Age Akkerman has a well researched take on Di Sarli’s El ciruja which he found to be about 5% too fast on the Euro Records transfer.

Rare Clips of Petróleo, Virulazo and others

2013 March 31

Amazing how these old clips slowly surface on youtube and facebook. Here are some clips that seem to be from an old documentary, posted by Victor Barrios and Cristina Benavidez:

HT: @FerGaleraTango

El Papa Francisco

2013 March 31
by Simba

Apparently the new pope is a tango lover, and now he got his own tango. Composition and lyrics by Daniel Ursini. Courtesy of  Canciones para grabar.

Happy Easter, Papa Fracisco!

HT @milongaroom

Carlos Di Sarli Documentary

2013 March 30


According to Realidad Bonaerense, there is a new documentary about Carlos di Sarli coming out, directed by Alberto Freinquel. No information about dvd or download edition, but there will be several public viewings in Buenos Aires and in Bahía Blanca, I think. The article mentions several dramatized sequences, which makes me a bit sceptical, but I guess you have to do something if there is little historical material available.

EDIT: A bit more information here.


2013 March 29
by Simba
Oil-wheel kick drum by Paul Graham Raven, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Paul Graham Raven 

The advances in DSP and processing power since I started ripping my cds to store all my music on a computer drive are enormous.

Sometimes having an estimate of the BPM of a tango song can be useful, e.g. when searching for “slow” milongas, sorting by BPM would be useful. But tapping each song individually to store in tags — no way it’s worth the effort. I remember doing some experiments years and years ago with automatic BPM calculation, and the results were useless.

Now, on the other hand, there are open source solutions available. The one I tried got good results, better than I could achieve manually, I think. I used Sonic Annotator with a vamp plugin from Queen Mary:


The command line I used was this:

 ./sonic-annotator -d vamp:qm-vamp-plugins:qm-tempotracker:tempo -w csv --csv-stdout ../test.wav

And I did a small script to calculate for my collection. I probably should have used different parameters for vals and milonga, but I haven’t had the time to try this out (it is already a long time since I did this, trying to cope with the blog post drafts queue).

flac -d "$1" -f -o "$TMP" 2>/dev/null
BPM=$(sonic-annotator -d vamp:qm-vamp-plugins:qm-tempotracker:tempo -w csv --csv-stdout "$TMP" 2>/dev/null |head -n 1 |cut -d"," -f3)
metaflac --remove-tag=BPM "$1"
metaflac --set-tag=BPM=$BPM "$1"
rm "$TMP"

In Sonic Visualiser I could have the software play along the detected beats to see if the timing was ok. Depending on your sense of humour, this could be a funny version of what seems to be my favourite test track: Al verla pasar + kick drum