El Choclo Music/Audio Sync, Carlos Di Sarli (1954)

Di Sarli recorded El Choclo in 1954. His interpretation is lush, with beautiful , skillfully contrasting bandoenons and strings. And the piano, played by Di Sarli, has the melody in Section C, bar 49. Di Sarli’s interpretation sharply contrasts D’Arienzo’s. It is much slower and has a softness, a lyrical character overall, compared to D’Arienzo’s very rhythmic and fast playing.

The form Di Sarli uses is A-B-A-C-A. This particular is called rondo in music theory. An initial (A) is heard then a different one (B), followed by a restatement of the first (A), then another different one (C). In rondo form there must be at least two different sections, the first section must be played between them, and the first section (A) must also be the last one. Di Sarli shows his skill and musical knowledge here. The return to familiarity from contrast and the new is part of the charm and purpose in rondo form. Di Sarli was a consummate musician.

Di Sarli, 1954:
Audio only

Orchestration or instrumentation is how the instruments are used; which instruments are playing at any given time and what is their function, such as melodic, accompaniment, creating the pulse, linking phrases (fills).

Marcato is Italian for marked, meaning the notes are to be accented and emphasized. In tango the notes are also played clipped or cut shorter than the note value as written. That is called staccato. The performance style, the articulation, combines marcato and staccato. And that gives the music a crisp and bold character. When I use the term marcato those are the qualities I mean.

Tango uses marcato style playing very often, especially in the accompanying instruments, frequently the bandoneons but others as well.

Music that is smooth and connected, with a flowing character, often with a broad sweeping melody and gentle accompaniment.

How the music is organized, structured; the number of sections and the way they  are constructed, the number of bars and phrases in each, and the order they are performed. more...

Composers/arrangers make a very conscious decision regarding form. The order sections are heard greatly effects our sensations and responses as listeners and dancers.

Sections are the top level element of music's form. They are the the large building blocks of tango music, typically lasting around thirty seconds or so. Each section is a unique segment of music, having a distinct musical character.

Tango music has two, occasionally three, primary sections, which we may label  “A”, “B”, “C”. Sometimes there is an "Introduction", "Bridge", a short section between two larger ones, or "Coda", a short concluding section.

Usually each section will be played consecutively in order (A then B then C), followed by various other orderings. Typically in tango songs each section is played instrumentally then each is sung, then section A is played instrumentally: A-B-A (vocal)-B (vocal)-A. But there are many exceptions and other possibilities.

Phrases exist within a section.

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7 Responses to El Choclo Music/Audio Sync, Carlos Di Sarli (1954)

  1. Jantango says:

    Listening while following the score is helping me hear what is going on musically that I miss dancing. At B I heard the bandoneons playing the original melody while the violins give us a treat. Di Sarli’s solo at C is outstanding, as is the final bandoneon solo with flying fingers in the return to theme A.

    • tangomonkey says:

      “Listening while following the score is helping me hear what is going on musically that I miss dancing.” Absolutely, that’s why I do it :)

      There is often a wild bandoneon solo at the end. I wonder if they were improvised or written out. I’ve seen the sheet music for Pugliese’s Recuerdo and the Variacion (the solo) is written out. But I have a feeling they were improvised sometimes, but i have no hard info on that. Something else to look into!

      • Sogun says:

        Variaciónes are played by whole section (that’s why it’s variación and not solo), that impies it has to be written. Also, the final variaciones are repeating in many recordings from different orquestas. For example Recuerdo – OTV, Pugliese, Raúl Kaplún, Tanturi – all they have that same famous variacion in the end. So it should be written in the arrange.


        • tangomonkey says:

          Hi Sogun. Other instruments play during variaciónes but the melodic line is often played by a single instrument (usualy a bandoneon, sometimes the piano), hence “solo”. The variación is usually the climax of the piece and it is similar to a candenza in a classical concerto. That is, it’s a place for a soloist to show off a bit near the end. Sometimes the variación is played in other places too, not always or only at the end.

          The variación is written out in Recuerdo. Todo Tango has it here. And as you point out, that is what has been recorded by the orquestas. Lomuto, de Caro, and Troilo use the written out version too. De Caro and Troilo play it twice, in the middle and at the end. (In Troilo’s other, late 1960s recording, the piano plays the first half, with some elaboration, and the bandoneon plays the second half. Just once, at the end.)

          Regarding other pieces…there are differences, as far as I am aware, between the recordings. In the piano sheet music (not the most reliable source, but all we have) the virtuosic solo is not written out. Recuerdo, yes. Maybe some others – I’m checking on that. It is very common for a single bandoneon to play a highly elaborate solo the last time through Section A. And these vary quite a bit between the orquestas, in the same piece. El Choclo, for instance.

          But if any of them were improvised I can’t say. I have no supporting evidence.

          Thanks for the comment.

          • tangomonkey says:

            An additional note….

            There are no absolutes…very often the variación melody is played by more than one bandoneon, in unison or in some harmony. So not improvised in that case, as Sogun wrote.

  2. Jantango says:

    A friend told me yesterday that a huge treasure trove of tango arrangements for different orchestras was discovered recently. Investigation will answer questions about the arrangements and if those spectacular solos were notated by an arranger or improvised by the musicians. We already know that tango leaders hired only the best musicians.

    • tangomonkey says:

      That’s a great resource. I’d love to see them. Where were they found? Are they part of a private collection?

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