mercredi 8 juillet 2009

This is driving me crazy - Milonga Vs. Tango

So I get out of a Milonga class. Pablo Pugliese - yup, son of... and Noel Strazza -yup, ex-partner of Pablo Veron (Oh yeah baby, Montreal is one star-studded place, I tell ya) teaching. So not exactly average teachers who don't know squat about tango but think they can improvise themselves as such (yup, we also have a bunch of those here...). Anyways... Pablo and Noel ask us what is the difference between Tango and Milonga. We venture guesses and I (idiotically) say "rythm? tempo?" Some of you would have guessed the same right? Well it appears not so!

Then Pablo played Milonga del Angel which, indeed, is just so slow I always thought it was a tango (that just goes to show how much of a beginner I am...). He then explains that it's the melodic line behind that makes the difference, not faster rythm. Damn! The anal-retentive in me was unsatisfied with that answer and I started digging.

Now, mind you, that happened yesterday so I was not able to ask all my tango friends but I will do just that at tonight's milonga.

Meanwhile, I really need your help here. According to what you heard, read, seen, danced, what is the difference between a milonga and a tango? Leave your comments below and I'll agregate them in a post.

As food for thought here is what I found on the web (and that's very little)

(from this site)
"Chronologically both Tango and Milonga coincide. Both come from the black
dance Candombe, but while the Milonga is the dance from the compadritos
orilleros according to Vega and other writers of the time (1880-1900), Tango
is the preferred music by the urban compadritos. The most vivid difference
between the Tango and Milonga is the rhythm. The Milonga is faster and cut,
which gives way to dance it with cortes and quebradas. In this dance the man
shows up his abilities greatly and in second order does the woman. The Tango
is slower which also allows to be danced with cortes and quebradas but with
less frequency, and at a rhythm more adequate for dancers of less expertise.
The Tango allows both man and woman to show up their abilities equally
without differences of gender. The Milonga orillera was for the ones who
danced very well. On the other hand, the urban tango allowed dancers of
lesser dance skills or those called medio pataduras to participate in the

That actually just contradicts what Pablo said, I know and I'd be more tempted to believe him...

Here is something else:
"The Litmus Test is the rhythmic pattern.

Listen to the Habanera from Bizet's opera, Carmen. The habanera rhythm is identical to the rhythmic pattern of a milonga. However, a habanera is slow and a milonga is fast.

There's a historical connection between habanera and tango. Indeed, old tangos (the kind that people feel inclined to dance "canyengue" to) often use the same rhythm as the habanera.

Did you ever watch the old TV show "Dragnet"? The first part of the Dragnet theme is the same as the habanera rhythm. (DUM da DUM DUM) That might not mean anything without musical notation, but that "dotted" rhythm (it's called a dotted rhythm because of the symbols that are used to notate it) is repeated non-stop in a milonga.

Contrast that with a tango, which aligns more with 4 heavy beats per measure (we tend to walk on every other beat). This difference in feel is why people tend to like dancing traspie in a milonga. That DUM-da-DUM-DUM, DUM-da-DUM-DUM repetition lends well
to double time steps to accommodate the tiny "da".

Did that help? Or did that obscure things more? Listen to that Carmen aria."

This may hold the final explanation but I can't understand music stuff in English ( I learnt it in French...)

2 commentaires:

  1. So then, he's wrong.... It seems that it IS a rhythmic difference, fast or slow, the PATTERN of the rhythm is always the same in a milonga (which is most of the time syncopated, giving it that "upbeat" almost waltz-like feel when fast even if it's in 4/4).

    Maybe that's what he was trying to say. Because if they used the same MELODY in every milonga, we'd be very bored with them by now!

    It seems we're talking more about a rhythmic pattern that Milonga was created on and that later on tango used and changed to become its own thing.

    Am I dead wrong?

  2. You probably right! just shows how limiting it is to learn dancing when you have forgotten the little you learnt about music.... thanks!