FIn the first decades of tango's development, it was an instrumental world.
There were no lyrics, no singers. People who liked to sing would have to make way. This takes a long time. The one who really kicked in the door was, of course, Carlos Gardel. This was Tango's biggest “before and after difference” moment. How did you manage to get into the genre and change it so fundamentally? You can't imagine how much tango would have changed (or not?) if it weren't for a huge magnetic film, with all that stellar machinery behind it. It was bigger than tango in the world of global popular culture, so it could take it into new realms.
Born in Toulouse, he was France's great gift of grace! to Argentina because he brought tango to France in the first place.
What gave rising singers the power to turn the system upside down? Blame Enrico Caruso (more on that later). This is due to the wonderful Italian musical heritage of the young children of Argentina.
Take these children of Italian immigrants to Argentina/Uruguay, away from tango, and you'll have no more tango, no matter what crucial influence all other cultures have in the mix. Just look at the names of composers, authors, bandleaders and musicians... 80% or more of them are of Italian descent.And all their mothers were in love with Caruso🇧🇷 He was the biggest star in the world before Chaplin and Pickford became movie actors. But Enrico had already been at the top for 20 years. (In terms of star power and record sales, you'd have to wait a decade after Enrico's death for another singer, Bing Crosby in 1931, to become as popular on the world stage.)
My hypothesis is that the children of the Italian immigrants who created this new type of music wanted tango to reach the level that Italian opera had reached. However, only in 3-minute songs. I think that's why a standard tango on the 3/4 mark makes a big change and brings different emotions before returning to the main theme. Only tango does this as a common format in popular music. And there is the genius of tango. They had great melodic themes and great musicians who were full of ideas. What else do you need to try? I've never heard anyone say that, but it seems obvious to me.
miEven people who don't like opera know that it takes the highest level of skill to perform. And that brings me to tango singers and my request to hear them in a new way if you don't like them. If you love the orchestra, the singer is included in the recording because he is as good technically as the phenomenal musicians. Crooked legs would not be tolerated. And with the singer poetry is made.
If you know anything about singing, you'll know that singing a tango requires unbridled passion wrapped in perfect control and skillful execution. You can't fake it or just fake it like in other types of music. It is operative in its demands.
Tango began with simple musical themes drawn from many cultures. The Italian sons, the Turks, the Spaniards, the Irish, the Cubans, the Yeruban dockers of Nigeria (whose god of thunder was calledShango), and others got to work, making the tracks more expressive, grandiose, and rhythmic (while remaining blissfully succinct).
Now we must (I say this humbly!) consider Caruso's influence.
Enrique Caruso (1873 - 1921) was the world's first pop star (and recording artist). (It didn't hurt that he was an American customerEduard Bernaysin New York, the father of public relations marketing). Only kings were so internationally known before Caruso.
All the young singers in Argentina wanted to be him. What he stood for was in his blood. And that's what it took to sing tango. Before Gardel, there was Caruso.
If the door opened for the singers, they would have to be accompanied by the force behind the persistent singers: the poets. They also wanted to express big (or everyday) themes in tango. They fueled the trend with words and images that worked, more and more as time went on.
Because it was so innovative and radical to have a singer, the arrangers, always thinking of the dancers, developed a successful format to accommodate the words: play the whole song once, then sing just one verse ("Estrillos") and that's it. 🇧🇷 All (except the poets) happy.
Early in the transition to the 1930s, singers were often not considered part of the orchestra. A leader like Di Sarli would occasionally call for a concert or recording, but it was just a one-off job.
Canaro and Donato were the first to make the singer a full and regular singer. Interestingly, they were also the only leaders to aggressively use female singers. From then until now. They apparently found the porteño/porteña prejudice against female singers absurd. My type of guys. All of her albums featuring women are fantastic and still bring a breath of fresh air to this day.
Of course, there was the tragic turn of Canaro's affair with the wonderful singer Ada Falcón, who tugs at his heart forever. they were in love. Canaro would not divorce his wife. Ada fled to a monastery and lived there for the rest of her life. Everyone was trapped in a time trap. As it always was and always will be in matters of the heart.
TThe new de rigueur format with vocals was a success and remained so until the military screwed it up in the 1950s. It turned out (inadvertently) that one of the best ways to kill tango was to let the singers do the arrangements. This was the direct result of closing all dance halls, removing all good bands from records and radios, etc.
During miserable economic and emotional times, live music was the only place in cafes and bistros, and owners would hire singers to put on some music. Now boss, they immediately changed the format. "Put in a four-bar intro and I'll be in." But music was no longer for dancing, just for listening. Now all these guys who wanted to be Gardel really have the "Ain't I cool?" Melancholy. Not dancers, poets and singers were impressed.
Over the years, I've had many conversations with students about how much they hate singers. Of course it reminds me of me when I started learning tango. I didn't want to listen to them either, I made an effort to collect all the instrumental tango I could find. Part of it made sense: my teacher liked to play only beginner instruments for obvious reasons. Within a month of starting to study, he was already making compilations for her to play in class. (You must have been really good, she was a great professional tango dancer who actually married me.) It wasn't unlike making radio playlists, which I've been doing since I was 13.
But the only way to become a good tango dancer is to love the greatest hits and listen to them A LOT. And there they are everywhere when you get used to the milongas: the singers! So either you adjust your preferences or... you don't stick with the tango.
Finding myself on the other side of the argument, I devised a way to get new people to have a different attitude towards them; I always talk about how YOUNG the singers were when they recorded their hits. I play them wonderful, wonderful songs by Caló and I say, do you hear that singer? I was 16 when this photo was taken! Hear the control, the skill, the emotion! Both Podestá and Berón had their biggest hits at this age; Rufino was 16 when he joined di Sarli. You're not listening to an old man crying about losing the races again - this is a boy expressing the yearnings of every teenager the world has ever known! (And what we don't know is that they secretly want to be Gardel, who secretly wanted to be...).
SHalle, are we going on an exciting trip? Caruso and Gardel will inspire us.
1916Roberto Firpo changed the world of tangowhen he first brought out the piano (no, really) and released the first recording ofWell doneThe most famous tango song is released into eternity.
Also in 1916, O Grande Caruso published O Solo Mio. A bit of Italian opera/habanera to warm the heart. One of the greatest hits of all time, recorded by the pioneering Montreal label (the world's first) that Caruso was with for 15 years, would soon be renamed RCA Victor.
And now Carlos, naturally like Enrico, with slicked-back hair, dazzles with a passionate rendition of the irresistible "Silêncio" (featuring singers). In this comparison of the two, you can clearly hear how Gardel skyrocketed to international stardom in such a short time. Absolute dynamite artist.
And in Argentina, all the young aspiring singers immediately forgot about Caruso, their mother's heartthrob. I want to be GARDEL!
This is all just my speech...but what? The truth can come from the most unlikely place. AND I AM in Montreal, just 10 minutes from the birthplace of the recording industry!
oOf course, Gardel danced the tango and played the guitar. He normally performed as 3 guitarists. When there was a big budget, with an orchestra. Canaro whenever I could. I always loved your version of La Cumparsita.When I discovered Tango for the first time, I kept listening because something spoke to me; Tango, who invited me, although I wanted to dance and I already knew that you can't dance. It's not just a song; not just a singer. A call... a gift... a challenge? Suggestions of something you can't touch, but don't worry about it; here it is, addressed personally to you.
Somehow I knew that I could go out to tango if I gave in to this opportunity that Gardel and music offered me, even if it wasn't in my culture and it wasn't in my blood. Maybe that's it: giving up and that's a direct injection of things you can't just go out and find. finds you.
My first exposure to tango (great live show) I rushed out to buy music the next day. The only thing in the store was a cassette by a certain Gardel and a CD by a certain Piazzolla, Tango: Zero Hour / Nuevo Tango: Hora Zero. Bought it and loved it. Tango isn't tango either, but they are the perfect historical props for the golden age of dance music. it took me years to learnthe story of their close relationship in 1920s New York.
singer of singers Alberto Gomez (OTV, Maglio, Brombeeren) Favorite studio singer for many years.
The young Carlos Gardel
dream big dreams
Ada Falcon (Canada)
Alberto Gomez (OTV, Maglio, Brombeeren)
Favorite studio singer for many years.
Horacio Lagos (Donato)
Roberto Ray (Fresedo)
(Canar, Fresedo, DiSarli)
Roberto Maida (Canaro)
Carlos Roldan (Canada)
(Di Sarli, Caló, Troilo)
(DiSarli, Balcarce, bass)
(Di Sarli, Caló, Laurenz)
More hits with more orchestras than anyone
(Caló, Demare, Troilo)
Alberto Castillo (Tanturi)
(Troilos, De Angelis)