Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rough Guide to Interpreting Different Orchestral Styles (Int/Adv)

Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 24, 2014, Ardingly College, England

We worked with 4 songs:
(1)   D’Arienzo’s Arnsiedad with Alberto Echague on vocals
(2)   Fresedo’s Cordobesita with Roberto Ray on vocals
(3)   Rodriguez’s No Se Porqe Razon with Armando Moreno on vocals
(4)   Tanturi’s Que Nunca Me Falte with Enrique Campos on vocals

We first did a rhythmic miniexercise since the AV wasn’t quite set up:
1 side clapping when Homer points to it, and the other side snapping its fingers when Homer pointed to it.
Then 2 snaps and 1 clap (imitating the boom chick chick Vals rhythm).

Then we moved to another room since our original room was too noisy, being next to the dining room.

Our goal was to dance, but stopping at the end of the song, finishing when the music stops. 
We danced first to D’Arienzo’s Arnsiedad.
Then to Fresedo’s Cordobesita

What were the differences in the two orchestras we heard?  Fresdo was softer, not as hard as D’Arienzo.

Next, we danced to Rodriguez’s No Se Porqe Razon
Notice that Rodriguez has a lot of nice variacion, and finished without the last note – the song is unresolved. Rodriguez’s bad is the only one that does that (cuts off the last note).

The Follower needs to listen as much, if not more to the music.

Next, we danced to Tanturi’s Que Nunca Me Falte.
Notice that this song has a nice, long ending, so you can get a good idea when the ending is coming and we can better prepare for it.

Part of developing connection with the music is recognizing the orchestra.  The main message is that orchestras have telltale signs/signatures.  One of the clearest is how they end, which can be defined by time period or singer.

How you interpret the music is how you express yourself.  Don’t just be historians.
This class attempts to get you to connect better with the music.

Next exercise: Tango Chacarera game.
Leaders behind Homer in one line; Followers behind Cristina in one line.
Tango Chacarera game is normally with 4 steps forward and 4 steps back.
This time, we take 4 steps forward and 3 steps back, so our count is to 7, followed by a silent 8.  We were to pay attention to what happens between the 7 and the silent 8.
We danced first to D’Arienzo’s Arnsiedad, where there was a pause in the momentum of the music between the 7 and the silent 8.
Then to Fresedo’s Cordobesita.
In both songs, we noticed that the phrasing stays in a pattern.
The quality of Fresedo’s song was lighter and slower, with less nervous, frenetic energy.  Fresedo came before D’Arienzo and is sweeter, with more violins than bandoneons. 
In Fresedo, there is also an extra instrument that is not heard in other orchestras. 

We were to dance to the Fresdo song again, and really listen between the phrases to figure out what that instrument was.  Some thought it was the piano, and while it is true that the piano does appear in between the phrases, the specific instrument that is only heard in Fresedo is the Harp.  Once you hear the Harp in Fresedo, you can never go back. 

Next, we were to dance, and when we hear the harp, we were to try to notate it in our movements.  So the Leaders could tap with their feet, and the Followers can tap with their hands.  The Follower can do decorations/adornos between the beats by moving her body during the little fills.

Next, we went back to our Tango Chacarera exercise to:
D’Arienzo, then changing to
Fresedo, then changing to

Rodriguez has similar energy to D’Arienzo (crazy, frenetic energy), but he creates a really interesting feeling with the bandoneons. The way the bandoneon is used in Rodriguez is more stretchy and elastic, more slinky, but not as what they would do with the violin.

What kind of movement would we use?  How do we move to this? How does the quality of movement change?
D’Arienzo is more staccato and we can do a lot of quick changes in direction via rock steps or steps that are short and sharp.
Fresdo is more flowy and sweet, syrupy, so we can do long, flowy movements.
Rodriguez, we can focus on doing changes of direction with choppy movements interspersing them with continuous and smooth wherever it is appropriate in the music. Rodriguez has the energy of D’Arienzo with the playfulness and fills of Fresedo.

Followers: Be aware of the Leader and what she can add to the conversation by being in tune to the music without disrupting the dance, being disobedient to the Leader, or changing the step.  If she is with the music, what she does will make sense to the Leader.

Someone asked a question of how we should dance to a song if the lyrics are sad. Maestro said in dancing, we are expressing that we are happy to be alive, so it is a celebration of the song.  Everyone decides individually what they get out of the song or what they hear out of it: the music, the singer, or the poetry/lyrics.

Some asked a question about where to get tango lyric translations.  H&C mentioned several of them (todotango, Alberto Paz, Jake’s, Derek Del Pilar), and suggested googling for all the different sources.

Next, we were to dance to a totally different orchestra and flavor it like a wine connoisseur.  We were to keep our movements simple.  The song we danced to was Tanturi’s Que Nunca Me Falte.

There was an element to the song that is not heard in the other three songs we worked on. And that is the “kiss me goodnight” (or syncope rhythm), that is combined with the singing, usually done three times in a row.  Also, the ending is very stretched out.

There are lots of things happening in tango music:
Musical instruments
Syncopa (kiss me goodnight).

As dancers, we make a choice, training our hearing and choosing one thing to focus on in our movement.

Next, our exercise was to dance to Tanturi with accenting all the kiss me goodnights (the syncopas) in our dancing.

Maestros conclude with a class quiz.  There was no demo song.

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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