Thursday, June 16, 2005

Soul of the Milonga

I didn't realise that the milonga was actually some sort of rhythm or musical form until I practised on the piece, Milonga del Angel, by Astor Piazzolla - the famous composer best known for revamping the face of traditional tango music by moving the tango music away from the dance floors, adding cool jazzy elements and rejecting its tendencies towards sentimentality and bouts of morbid self-pity. He almost gave up his tango and bandoneon for traditional classical music due to critcism that his tango music was too complicated to be played by musicians but I'm really glad that he didn't. =) His music, when in the hands of a master, can make one shed tears. The tango is to Argentina what the flamenco is to Spain. Alright, enough of the tango, I'm supposed to comment on the milonga.

Apparently, the milonga and tango are different genres within the Argentine music, though they sound pretty much the same to me, most probably due to my shameful ignorance of this branch of music. It is suspected that the milonga had its roots in the Spanish culture, but well, when one talks about the milonga, Argentina comes into mind instead of Spain. Piazzolla composed two forms of milonga, the first fast and exciting, that takes on the rhythm of the dance of the early century and the second is the slow tango milonga, like the piece, Milonga del Angel, which I'm learning right now. The beauty of Piazzolla's milonga, like his tangos, is the fact that his works are not just a mere simple evolution of the the traditional form, but make use of the typical accentuation of the milonga but mixed with some of his musical style, rebuilt with his own harmonic and melodic procedures that make them fully piazzolleano. And these works still retain the unique atmosphere of the milonga. Beautiful, isn't it?

I was quite surprised to find out that milongas were originally played on the guitar. And today, we've this slow milonga which was transcribed to the guitar and it fits so beautifully into the guitar repertoire. It was in the later section where the milonga rhythm became more distinctive, with the beat 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2. The last few bars before the repeat were pretty much the killer in this piece due to the shifts and non-so-natural fingerings involved. That really makes keeping the rhythm much harder. Nonetheless, I'll strive hard to make sure that the piece sounds natural before this Sunday so that I can start on the other pieces.


Renegade Eye said...

The milonga form in tango, is Brazil's contribution to the tango form. The other types of tango are, the usual 4/4 time tango, and the waltz (Not the same as waltz from Vienna).

You found some good music.

Anonymous said...

Most of the influences of tango (milonga, habanera, candombe etc) are merged into the umbrella of tango music today. The dancers still pay attention to the underlying rhythm (whether 2/4, 3/4, 4/4) when they dance, and mostly they prefer the classic orchestras of the 40's because they respect the walking heartbeat. You can discover more about tango music by checking out the tango dancer community in Singapore on its website