How fast did they actually dance the tango back then?

Back in time to tango Vol1

Tango is usually danced to recordings that are sometimes more than 100 years old. It crackles and rustles and some people experience a journey back in time to another world while dancing. But did people at that time really hear the music the way we hear it today?

Dedicated sound engineers often went to great lengths to reduce crackling and hissing to a minimum. In doing so, they usually overlooked the fact that many recordings were played at a different speed in the original than the original they had edited. DJ Mark John has dedicated himself to this extremely interesting topic. Based on his research, Danza y Movimiento is publishing a new series in which tangos can be heard as they were heard 100 years ago. And this leads to a new dance experience in which it is possible to immerse yourself even more deeply in the tango.

Why is the speed of many recordings wrong?

This requires a short but interesting look at the history of the bandoneon. A history of the tango without the bandoneon is unimaginable. Everyone has heard how the instruments are tuned at the beginning of a concert at a live music event. If not, it sounds strange. To be able to make music together, you need a common basis. And that is the so-called concert pitch A. The conductor listens to the concert pitch on his tuning fork and the instruments tune in. When A vibrates the same for all instruments, you're ready to go.

But when is A=A? This is the moment when all the instruments play the note A at a frequency at which it vibrates 440 times a second, for example. Played together in this way, it sounds good to the ear. But what do we do with an instrument like the bandoneon that you can't tune yourself? Tuning a bandoneon is more complicated than tuning a piano. Such instruments have to be tuned by a specialist so that the A vibrates just as often per second as the A of the other instruments in the orchestra. Or vice versa: all the other instruments are tuned to the bandoneon.

Until 1929, bandoneons were generally delivered with the note A vibrating 435 times per second. It was only after 1939 that the standard of 440 hertz was established. And what about the period between 1929 and 1939? Sometimes it's like this, sometimes like that. And to make things a little more complicated: There are also recordings with 440 bandoneons before 1929. And even after 1939 there were musicians who didn't want to have their bandoneon tuned to 440 hertz and only played when everyone else in the orchestra was tuned to their instrument.

This is where DJ Mark John's detective research begins, as he sets out to find out which concert pitch was used in the original recording. This requires extensive research: Harmonic analyses, an examination of the plausibility of the tone sequences, comparisons of singers' voices in recordings before and after the concert pitch change and much more. The notes of the original recordings are also helpful, if they still exist ...

The new series “Back in time to Tango” promises dancing pleasure with carefully sound-restored recordings that have been adapted to the original speed. So dance like 100 years ago and without stumbling because the orchestra plays too fast or too slow ...

The first 8 albums in the series contain the complete repertoire of all recordings by the Orquesta Tipica Donato-Zerrillo and the Orquesta Tipica Select. A click on the cover will take you to the respective album. You will also find a link to the platform of your choice where you can stream or download the complete album.

A note for collectors: You can get our releases uncompressed e.g. as FLAC in the stores of “7 digital”. Unfortunately, this platform does not sell in all countries. But you can get the music e.g. in UK, USA, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and some more countries.


Back in time to tango 1

Back in time to tango 2

Back in time to tango 3

Back in time to tango 4

Back in time to tango 5

Back in time to tango 6

Back in time to tango 7

Back in time to tango 8

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024