Tanda of the week: milonga duets

Tanda of the week: milonga duets

I began this glorious year 2020 with an ode to milongas. Continuing in the same spirit, I give you lovely milonga duets from late 1950s in the form of a mixed tanda.

Why I built it this way

Opening the tanda is Pugliese's Silueta porteña, canta Miguel Montero y Jorge Maciel. The tempo is reasonably swift at 106 BPM and the key is E-minor throughout, and only at the end does the song resolve in a major chord.

Flowing in a remarkably consistent fashion, this lyrical gem has the rhythmical underpinning to inspire punchy milonga footwork. The familiar melody, delivered with Pugliese's unique lyrical mastery, ought to bring the milonga crazies to their feet.

Following is D'Arienzo Chiquita y bonita, c. Horacio Palma y Jorge Valdez. We've sped up slightly to 108 BPM and the key is A-major alternating with A-minor.

It's sharp, accented, and proceeds resolutely as all D'Arienzos do. I feel that it's sufficiently lyrical as not to contrast with Pugliese's opener in a way that would make dancers uncomfortable. The kinds of movements it provokes might include more tension, compression, or perhaps precision.

The tanda resolves with Salamanca's Milonga sentimental, c. Armando Guerrico y Mario Luna. The tempo inched up by a notch to 113 BPM and the key is G-major alternating with G-minor.

The foundation is solid, with clear milonga patterns and beats, and while we occasionally hear glimspes of Salamanca's signature violin legatos, this is a light, forward-driving milonga built on the right accents and staccatos. Its character is lighter, more easy-going than the previous two, which is why I like it as the closer in this tanda. It should also be helpful that the melody is widely known and appreciated, albeit from earlier recordings.


When I have a good crowd on a normal weekly milonga, I would play this tanda as the second or third milonga tanda of the night. It would help if I had milonga-loving audience present. Given that my sets usually include a lot of 1950s music, I would not have to prepare my dancers much for this tanda. I could stick it between late Biagi and Di Sarli tango tandas.

Additional notes

The primary binding agent here is that all three songs are duets. As you dance, you'll consistently hear two voices singing, and that should leave you with a memory of a cohesive story that made sense.

While I would never mix Pugliese with any other orchestra in a tango tanda, I felt like I had no other choice here, other than not to play his Silueta porteña at all.

Indeed, this tanda exists to feature Silueta porteña in a new light. I think it deserves it.

image artwork © Philippe Thiers

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