This morning, in an effort to feel more awake, we listened to tango music. (In my head I imagined a new daily routine, consisting of me begging for just “one more tanda” before having to rush off to work …) As I sat there with my foggy morning brain, I tapped out rhythms and phrases. I have said this before, but my main reason for wanting to learn how to lead is to be able to interpret the music. Not just to follow and play with someone else’s interpretation, but to lead someone else to hear the music as I do. (It isn’t at all about getting bored at milongas because of a gender imbalance, or anything like that!)
I finally got myself out of bed and moving toward work. As I turned on the radio in my car, I started thinking more about music. I am one of those people who listens to tango music but can’t identify most of it. I recognize songs, I understand most of the lyrics, I dance to the feelings, but I am rubbish at identifying orchestras and song titles. I’d like to change this, to develop a different kind of understanding of tango.
Another thing I would like to work on is understanding what makes a good song to dance to. I love alternative music, and I keep hearing songs that would almost be good to dance to. For example, I love this new cd I got for belly dancing, Tribal Derivations by Beats Antique. One of the songs I am particularly fond of (and that you can hear on their myspace page) is The Lantern. This song, in my mind, is almost danceable … its problem being, like a lot of music used for belly dancing, that it is just a bit too repetitive. Another artist I love and who I think is almost good for tango is Serj Tankian (of System of a Down). He has an intriguing voice, his music is creative, it has more layering and less repetition than a lot of mainstream music … in a lot of ways it is structured well for tango, but rock just doesn’t feel right to dance to. It doesn’t have the heart of tango.
I know some fabulous DJs who know a lot about good tango music, both traditional and alternative. I need to hit them up for some advice and training for my ear. I’m curious to know how they put together a tanda, how they decide what tanda should come next, how they know which songs are best for dancing. I don’t really want to learn to be a DJ, but music is so important to me that I want to educate myself about it. I want to understand it in ways that are more technical and informed, and then I want to delve back into it, dance it with a holistic understanding of its history, its context, its lyrics, its mood, its soul …