The intellectual and social significance of Osvaldo Sosa Cordero’s works is firmly based in his commitment to research and preservation of traditional music, whether from the Guarani or other first peoples of Argentina, or the rural traditions of the criollas. With this grounding his own works cross the divide between the mythologisation of rural Argentina and the dominance of the city of Buenos Aires. He could write a milonga such as De Pura Cepa (Of Pure Strain), which, in the spirit of other nationalistic milongas such as Del Tiempo Guapo and No Hay Tierra Como La Mia, nobilises the milonga: He describes it as:
Milonga de mi Argentina
la gentil embajadora / del cantar de mi nacion
Milonga of my Argentina
the gentle ambassador / the song of my nation.
But he positions it at a national level, and he also posits the link between milonga tradicional, as he describes it, and tango:
Milonga, madre del tango
Milonga, mother of tango
And then he could write a tango such as Yo Llevo Un Tango En El Alma, (I wear a tango in the soul) in which in turn he nobilises the tango:
Madre buena, patio, fango, / drama, fábrica, humildad…
Todo, todo sabe a tango, / a canción de mi ciudad…
Good mother, patio, mud, / drama, factory, humility …
Everything, everything tastes like tango,/ a song of my city …
* * * * *
In the early part of the 20th century industrialisation and immigration steadily continued the shift of the balance of power from the provinces of Argentina to the capital, Buenos Aires that had started with independence and federation a century earlier. Change is always threatening to someone, and one reaction was the reification of rural Argentina and denigration of urban Buenos Aires as morally inferior to the traditions of the country. The milonga became associated with the noble rural lifestyle, epitomised by the mythologised gaucho, whilst the tango was identified with the sinful city – although to avoid confusion I should at this point note that the legend of the brothel origins of tango has been comprehensively debunked.
To legitimise tango in this highly politicised environment was no small matter. At such a time these songs from Cordero attempt to reconcile these opposing forces by placing the two elements of Argentina on the same footing in a popular format.
Photo credit: Argentinian Badge as presented in the Congreso building: Myk Dowling