Friday, January 30, 2009

The Decarean School of Music

Song: Anibal Troilo by Julio de Caro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
January 26, 2009, The Beat, Berkeley, CA

We began dancing with two songs by Julio de Caro: Tierra Negra and Anibal Troilo, to introduce us to the Julio de Caro sound.

Next, we danced to segments of four songs: D'Arienzo's El Flete, de Caro's El Monito, Canaro's La Melodia de Nuestro Adios, and de Caro's Mi Dolor. We then discussed the comparisons and contrasts among the different orchestras (staccato, a way of straining instruments, more soloists and when they happen, the wobble, the variación -- de Caro created the formula for solo improvs -- "variaciones").

The first element of de Caro's music that we explored was Pausing and Breathing. We attempted to stretch our dance movement though the shimmy or two-foot ideas (with our weight on two feet and legs open). Here, we attempted to work on articulation of the hips in an unconventional way, where the hips are more separate from the torso, playing with the concept of different ways to articulate our hips, and the flexion in our knees, in both linear and side articulation. It was noted that this move was somewhat bluesy. We did this to de Caro's Mala Junta.

We continued our discussion of de Caro's music: how there were shifts, that it was rich in variación with lots of unaccompanied solos, the element of "whistling", how de Caro's music was known more for innovations than playing virtuosity, the use of his specially made violin-coronet, the music's playfulness, sometimes the strong beat is missing, during which you can switch into pitter-patter mode.

The second element we explored in our dance was the planted two-foot pivot. Here, the Leader takes two steps forward, plants the Follower while her left foot is back and right foot is forward, then the Leader walks around her clockwise; her upper body follows his, maintaining connection, until all of the weight transfers fully to her forward right foot, at which point his continual motion around her causes her left leg to free so she pivots all the way around on her right leg. One option to this is that the Leader can change direction both ways clockwise and counterclockwise, forward and back, to unwind the Follower the other way.

Followers should take their time coming to their axis on this move (go ahead and hang out). She can easily practice this by herself, transferring weight as she rotates around one side to another. For a more advanced Follower technique, she can play with the way her body moves as the Leader walks around her, letting her knees go so that they open up the hips, where there's a delay of movement from one joint to another. Generally, the hips turn first, then the knees follow. However, sometimes there is a movement where both knees are turned out.

For the Leader' technique, it is important that he lets his right hand go (just like for all big pivots or big ochos), still providing a frame in which the Follower can move, but not restricting her body rotation, as her rib cage has to be free to have maximum torsion without any hand pressure from him. At the point of where the Leader plants the Follower, he actually stops short of the middle as the Follower's foot starts to put the weight down. For the Leader, it is important that he walks around close to the Follower, and that he attempts to walk around the standing, pivoting leg of the Follower. The Leader should envision an invisible circle that he has to walk around the Follower, using her right leg as the center of the circle as his goal. If he walks too far away, he will pull her and she will fall.

Next, we attempted to focus the energy on the release to try to lead a boleo at the end.

Next, we changed the ending into a volcada instead of boleo. The trick was that the release of energy is farther away when the volcada is led.

We then tried it in close embrace, and also changed the ending to a shared single axis turn, or the two foot shimmy out to resolution.

The concept of strechiness can be found in many orchestras (Troilo, Pugliese, Donato, Laurenz). About 80% of de Caro's music is instrumental, with only about 20% having vocals.

To conclude, we danced to two de Caro songs: Derecho Viejo, and a milonga, Saca Chispas.

It was noted that de Caro was so interconnected with the musicians of the time, that Piazzolla wrote a tribute to de Caro. Pugliese was such an admiring student of de Caro that he dedicated a whole album to him.

Maestros did a demo of what we learned to de Caro's Anibal Troilo.

Shared class materials were from:
* "History of Tango Music" masters thesis by Pablo Aslan
* A page from the coffee table book called Tango (picture of de Caro's orchestra, and he with his violin-coronet)
* A tango diagram of orchestras and composers "Cuadro Relacionador de estilos orquestales"
* Maestro's handwritten class outline

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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