Tango Canyengue

2019-07-21 - Canyengue Feet

There were many dances in early 20th century Buenos Aires, each underpinned by different music: milonga by the habanera rhythm, with different note lengths; another was the lilting Canyengue, a 2/4 rhythm of equally spaced beats arranged quick-quick-slow , quick-quick-slow. Canyengue is the oldest known manifestation of the dance now known as tango, with origins back in the late 19th century, and it was the dance that took the world by storm towards the end of La Belle Époque. There is no doubt that, just like tango, the dance tradition of canyengue was broken during the second half of the 20th century, but whilst Canyengue might have been overshadowed by 4/4 tango music, it certainly did not die out, it was merely overshadowed, just as rock-n-roll did not cease to exist in 1960 but has in fact survived—if not as a fashionable dance then definitely as a popular one. But since the 1980s Canyengue has been revived as a dance and this edition explores the treatments given to its music by a range of traditional and modern ensembles.

The music usually follows a 3-section ABA structure, with 16, 32, and 16 bars to each section respectively, and you can hear the second repeat of the opening section clearly in some of the following music. The dance is framed around a strong quick-quick-slow stepping pattern, with the quick-quick represented in the music as 2 single notes on a bar of the 2/4 arrangement, and the slow a single long note on the following bar. The dance is improvised from units of up to 4 repeats of a dance figure, followed by a “chorus” of up to 8 bars of crossed steps (enganche), but like more modern tango musics the arrangement will vary the marcato, the placement of the strong beats, and so leaders will vary the numbers and arrangements of figures in the dance to suit the music.

That’s this Sunday on Tango Capital, 7:00pm to 8:00pm:

Image: The quintessential foot placement of Canyengue.

PLAYLIST:

  • No Hay Que Hacerse Mala Sangre, meaning ‘There’s No Need For Bad Blood’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Canaro, on 20 March 1935, with music composed by Francisco Canaro, with lyrics by Ivo Pelay, and sung by Roberto Maida.
  • Alma de Bandoneón, meaning ‘Soul Of The Bandoneón’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Canaro, on 20 March 1935, with music composed by Enrique Santos Discépolo in 1935, with lyrics by Enrique Santos Discépolo & Luis César Amadori, and sung by Roberto Maida.
  • Noches de Buenos Aires, meaning ‘Nights Of Buenos Aires’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Canaro, on 23 April 1935, with music composed by Alberto Soifer in 1935, with lyrics by Manuel Romero, and sung by Roberto Maida.
  • Oi, Malevo, meaning ‘Hey, Ruffian’, a canyengue recorded by Roberto Firpo, on 12 December 1929, with music composed by Juan José Buscaglia.
  • Falsa Alegria, meaning ‘False Joy’, a canyengue recorded by Roberto Firpo, on 8 May 1929.
  • Organito Del Suburbio, meaning ‘Suburban Organ-player’, a canyengue recorded by Roberto Firpo, on 26 June 1929, with music composed by Antonio Bonavena, with lyrics by Roberto Fermin Torres, and sung by Teófilo Ibáñez.
  • El Pardo Cejas, meaning ‘Brown Eyebrows’, a canyengue recorded by La Tubatango in 2006, with music composed by Prudencio Aragón and lyrics by Antonio Polito.
  • El Flete, meaning ‘The Racehorse’, a canyengue recorded by La Tubatango in 2006, with music composed by Vicente Greco in 1916, with lyrics by Gerónimo Gradito.
  • La Morocha, meaning ‘The Brunette’, a canyengue recorded by La Tubatango in 2006, with music composed by Enrique Saborido in 1905, with lyrics by Ángel Villoldo.
  • Filo Misho, a canyengue recorded by Orquesta Típica Victor, on 8 May 1930.
  • Recuerdo, meaning ‘A Memory’, a canyengue recorded by Orquesta Típica Victor, on 23 April 1930, with music composed by Osvaldo Pugliese in 1924, with lyrics by Eduardo Moreno, and sung by Roberto Diaz.
  • El Chamuyo, meaning ‘The Chattering’, a canyengue recorded by Orquesta Típica Victor in 1930.
  • 9 de Julio, meaning ‘9th of July’ (a national day of independence), a canyengue recorded by Cuarteto Guardia Vieja in 2005, with music composed by José Luis Padula, with lyrics by Lito Bayardo.
  • Re Fa Si, a canyengue recorded by Cuarteto Guardia Vieja in 2005, with music composed by Enrique Delfino.
  • Jueves, meaning ‘Thursday’, a canyengue recorded by Cuarteto Guardia Vieja in 2005, with music composed by Rafael Rossi & Udelino Toranzo.
  • Intimas, meaning ‘Intimate’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Lomuto, on 11 August 1944, with music composed by Alfonso Lacueva, with lyrics by Ricardo Luis Brignolo, and sung by Carlos Galarce.
  • Desagravio, meaning ‘Grief’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Lomuto, on 13 December 1944, with music composed by Francisco Lomuto, with lyrics by Homero Manzi & José María Contursi, and sung by Alberto Rivera.
  • Mano a Mano, meaning ‘Hand By Hand’, a canyengue recorded by Francisco Lomuto, on 11 August 1944, with music composed by Carlos Gardel & José Razzano in 1923, with lyrics by Celedonio Flores, and sung by Alberto Rivera.
  • Grand Guignol, written by Carlos García, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Juan Campodónico, it is from the ‘Mar Dulce’ release recorded by Bajofondo in 2007. The name is a reference to Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol (Theatre of the Great Puppet) in Pigalle, in the heart of the tango quarter of Paris; the Grand Guignol ran from 1897 to 1962, with the height of the popularity of its graphic horror shows coinciding with the popularity of tango in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s ;

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