The night has progressed, the energy has built up, the couples have grown closer together and are ready to explore. It's time to slow down and open the floodgates of emotion.
It is March 1966 and Florindo Sassone records with Mario Bustos. There are only a few tracks available from their cooperation. All of them excellent for the purpose they are serving.
Why I built it this way
The purpose of this tanda is to give the dancers space and time to indulge. They'll be prompted to make slow, circular movements with plenty opportunities for legwork decorations and such. The music, when consumed with attention, will give them a powerful emotional release.
The overall feeling is heroic, thanks to Bustos' booming bass, mighty lyrical, and progressing from an emotionally balanced starting point towards a darker place.
I have six tracks available to make a tanda, and three of them are in the C-key. That somehow limits my options as I don't like to have two songs in the same key side-by-side (read my reasoning here). The other three all have unique keys.
My final choice:
- Esta noche me emborracho to open - starts upbeat, relaxed, the C major key alternates with A-minor, and of course the minor keys brings with it its sense of lyricism. Emotionally, it's balanced (not all upbeat and not all dark).
- Yira yira - starts happy in D-major, then moves on to a more lyrical B-minor. Some drama, contained in a fairly regular flow. The overall character is also balanced.
- Bandoneón arrabalero - this is where the skies begin to darken. The song opens in G-minor with an urgent plea, so to speak. The occasional transitions to G-major do not leave much imprint in the dancer's memory. The song slows down before the end, which I definitely do not prefer for the 3rd song; here, it's the price I paid for a satisfying harmonic and emotional progression.
- Tomo y obligo is the emotional peak. No wavering and no balance here; it's serious business in C-minor. If my Google Translate isn't screwing with me today, it's about a man having been betrayed by a woman, drinking and wowing not to cry.
I mean, sometimes I think that having literacy in Spanish would help me appreciate tango more, and other times, I am grateful I only get to enjoy the beauty and brilliance of the music without being distracted by the over-dramatizing of the lyrics.
I would wait until later in the evening with this tanda. My dancers need to have warmed up, both physically and to each other.
It's not so difficult to dance to as there aren't any rhythmical "gotchas" here. The biggest payoff comes after the couples have danced a lot of rhythmical and lyrical tandas and need some more emotion - or rather, some more straightforward, non-nuanced emotional release.
At these times I often play Pugliese with Maciel, 1950s Di Sarli, 1950s Vargas or 1950s Federico. The advantage of Sassone is the regular rhythmical basis.
Plus, all the tunes are under three minutes long, whereas many, many 1950s and later music comes well over three minutes. I consider the 3-minute mark to be the ideal time to finish a song.
Sassone's instrumentals from the same period are perhaps better known to a milonga / marathon audience. I think these vocal pieces are no less deserving our attention and will reward the milonguero with a wide gamut of available emotional expression.
image credit Priscilla Du Preez