Frequently Played Tandas in Bs.As.

Since I arrive in Buenos Aires, I have been taking notes of tandas in the milongas that I go to. People around me are always very curious about what I write on my little notebook. Many thought that I wrote down my dance partners’ name. The truth is that I can always remember with whom and to which orchestra I dance, given that the dances are very connected, emotional and musical, and the person leaves a deep impression in my mind. But there’s no way I can remember the run down of tandas in a milonga, and that’s why I have been trying to write it down.

I haven’t started to study my notes, and sometimes I doubt if I can really find out something interesting from them (except the number of tandas I danced in an evening). Anyhow, at least the action of note taking keeps me pay attention to the music throughout the night. And that’s why I can notice DJ Carlos Rey plus another 2 DJs like to play few tandas very often (once every milonga or once to twice a week), and these tandas are not heard that much or that often outside Buenos Aires*.

* It is just a brief impression based on my personal experience. 

Ricardo Tanturi – Instrumental

Tanturi is a “must” in a milonga, no matter it’s him with Alberto Castillo or with Enrique Campos. Sometimes in one night the DJ plays both – a tanda with Castillo and a tanda with Campos. These two singers’ generate different feelings and both have fans in the milonga. But the most often heard Tanturi tanda in fact is his instrumental one. It is kind of similar to D’Arienzo, but lighter and more elegant.

  • Argañaraz (1940)
  • El Buey Solo (1941)
  • Comparsa Criolla (1941)
  • Una Noche de Garufa (1941)
  • Gallo Ciego (1938)
  • Adiós Pueblo (1941)

Osvaldo Fresedo – Instrumental

Surprisingly, what I hear the most often of Fresedo is his instrumental pieces. I used to only focus on Fresedo’s vocal pieces with Roberto Ray and Ricardo Ruiz. Being here in Buenos Aires draws my attention to Fresedo’s instrumental pieces. A remarkable difference between the vocal pieces and the instrumental pieces is that vocal pieces tend to be more romantic and melodic, while instrumental pieces are more rhythmic and more interesting for dancing. 

  • Derecho Viejo (1941)
  • El Irresistible (1944)
  • La Clavada (1933)
  • Firulete (1939)
  • Poliya (1939)
  • Pimienta (1939)
  • Arrabalero (1939)
  • Tigre Viejo (1934)

Ricardo Malerba with Orlando Medina

I think Ricardo Malerba is almost completely neglected by DJs outside Buenos Aires. I bought his CDs (there’re only 2 on the current commercial CD market) years ago and I never used his music to DJ. Only when I’m dancing here in the milonga, I can feel this orchestra. And my feeling is getting stronger and stronger each time I hear it. The essence of this orchestra is the singer Orlando Medina. Milongueros and milongueras just love his singing! (Me too! :-) ) Malerba’s orchestra only left 43 recordings. Usually only one tanda is played in each milonga, and the choice are always those with Orlando Medina. The tanda is always composed with the following songs (all with Orlando Medina):

  • Gitana Rusa (1942)
  • Enbrujamiento (1943)
  • Mi Taza de Cafe (1943)
  • La Piba de Los Jasmines (1943)
  • Ninguna (1942)
  • Remembranza (1943)
  • Olga Mozo (1942)

9 Responses to “Frequently Played Tandas in Bs.As.”

  1. Louis Says:

    This is indeed quite informative! Although I have been DJing for two years now, I am generally very lazy at remembering the song titles, so I it will be difficult for me to take notes like you did…

    I find the observation you made about Malerba quite interesting. Not long ago, there was a brief discussion about Malerba on the TangoDJ list (where the participants are English-speaking and probably very few Argentinians?), where almost universally he was not considered a good choice for dancing!? While I have little of his music for me to form a judgment, I do play a mixed Vals tanda putting him together with late D’Arienzo from time to time.

  2. Emily Says:

    Oh…………. Malerba is my favourite…….I like their instrumental pieces too….his Sollozos sometimes sounds even better than Fresedo’s!!!!!!!

  3. Anna Says:

    .. for special (deep, connected etc.) tandas I kind of recall to which music I danced with the person..

    PS pity, I am back to Europe without meeting you again!… next time for sure!

  4. Christian Tobler Says:

    Interesting what you say about Malerba in your country. In my home town – Zurich in Switzerland – you can hear Malerba regularly in milongas that are dedicated to the epoca de oro. And people dance a lot to Malerba.

    In my own weekly milonga I play a malerba tanda at least every second week. And beside Malerba with Medina I also play Malerba with Maida sometimes. There are four tangos, just enough for an outstandig tanda 1. Encuentro. 2. Una copa mas. 3. Medianoche. 4. Pasado Florido.

    Not to forget the outstanding interpretation of the instrumental vals Corazon de Artista, that I consider superior zu d’Arienzos version and a pice of musik that lifts may dancers from their chairs.

  5. koolricky Says:

    I love Malerba! He has this D’Arienzo-Caló-Laurenz mix that I just love. And he gets played in the UK, at least by me!

  6. E. Says:

    After reading so many different opinions of how to create a Milonga evening there is still one big question unanswered.
    I always read about the TTVTTM order but in Buenos Aires I heard maximum two tandas of vals per night.?! (What I loved!) How to create the mood of an evening by playing 5 to 6 tandas of tango consecutively before having a break with vals or milonga?

  7. Royce Says:

    Hello E,

    I heard 5 to 6 tandas of tango in Bs.As. as well, but usually it appeared at the beginning or at the end of the milonga. I would say 3 to 4 tandas of tango is very common. As for the number of vals per milonga, if it’s a long milonga (from 6pm to 3am), then definitely there’s more vals than what you experienced. Shorter milonga usually has less vals and milonga, but my experience is that there’s always minimum 3 tandas of vals. However, milonga tanda is not the same. I love milonga but unfortunately milonga is not played as often as vals. I do had experience of having only 2 tandas of milonga in an evening, and I was quite disappointed.

    I think the number of tango tandas is not really an issue. What tango tandas are played in a row is the key. If there’s enough variety of tango tandas played in a row, that’s fine for me, and I think that’s also fine for the local dancers in Bs.As. Because I believe different tanda of tango can have different feeling and colour, and so a series of tango tandas can also be colourful and enjoyable. However, the same arrangement might not be fine for some tango communities outside Bs.As. The reason behind is a matter of habit and appreciation. We have to admit that local dancers in Bs.As. generally have higher or different appreciation to tango music than foreign dancers like us. And that could explain why they don’t have problem having 5 or 6 tandas of tango in a row, while for us that could be boring or not exciting.

  8. David Graybill Says:

    I took up DJing about a year ago because I was always somewhat disappointed with the playlists and cortinas, if used at all, from the local DJ’s. My biggest gripe was having to listen to and dance to the music the DJ like and not what the dancers liked or requested. I had a good idea of what I wanted to play and ended up with a lot of very good feed back over the months and requests for my services. My one rule was to play what the dancers wanted to dance to and not what I wanted to listen to. I asked for feedback after each milonga and I have a good idea what makes for an enjoyable milonga evening.

    1. The TTVTTM format works the best. Everyone likes it.
    2. Everyone loves cortinas between three song tandas. 30 seconds long, fade to silence. Dinah Washington, Lou Rawls, Sinatra, Ellington, Ray Charles, etc. Cortinas allows more ladies to dance and prevents a guy from ‘monopolizing’ a lady.
    3. Epoch de Oro or ‘Golden Age’ tangos, vals and milongas from the 1940’s and 1950’s are far and way the most popular.
    4. I mix some the artist in a tanda because someone thought I played the same song twice in a tanda. I didn’t but I was mortified!
    5. I avoid music with tempo changes or volume swings. We play in cafes and restaurants at times with background noise and these songs loose the dancers on occasion.
    6. I’ve had a number of requests for ‘Novo’, not Nuevo, songs like ‘My Tender and Affectionate Beast’, ‘La Valse d’Amélie’ and ‘Tivoli’. I created a tanda with them and held my breath and the dancers, all of whom are Argentine trained, did enjoy them. Just one tanda though.
    7. Nuevo just doesn’t work with the Sacramento, Ca. crowd, even fun songs like Gotan’s ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ and ‘Notas’. Most dancers here have been to Bs.As. and are only interested in classic tango.

    If you are interested in DJing, and there is always room for a good DJ, get yourself a good laptop and portable sound system (200 to 400 watts RMS) and jump in!! It’s fun!!

    David Graybill

  9. Maykel Fonts Says:

    Here in Barcelona you can also hear Ricardo Malerba quite often.

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