Flores negras, Julio De Caro (1927)

Flores negras (Black Flowers) was writen by Julio De Caro’s brother, Francisco, who played piano and composed many of the pieces for the De Caro , organized as a sextet for many years.

The musicans were some of the very best in tango, particularly the two Pedros: Julio and Emilio De Caro (another brother) on violin; Francisco De Caro, piano; Pedro Maffia and Pedro Laurenz on bandoneon; Enrique Krauss, double bass.

Here’s a picture of the 1925 sextext.

Notice the strange contraption attached to Julio’s violin. It’s not actually attached, he is holding a Stroh Violin.


The instrument is basically a stringed fingerboard connected to a sound box resonator, which amplifies and focuses the sound through the horn. Not really a violin at all, and combined with recording technology of the day, produces a not terribly pleasant, tinny and nasal sound; very un-violin-like. Despite that the music has a certain charm.

De Caro recorded two versions of Flores negras, as a sextet in 1927 and a full orquesta in 1952. The form is typical for tango music: two distinct sections, each having 16 bars with 8, 4, and 2 bar phrasing in question and answer style. What differentiates this music from most of the tango’s of the day is the character: sweeping with melody in the forefront and subdued rhythmic accompaniment, seldom anything more than basic, and restrained, marking of “the four”, four beats per bar.

I’ll have much more to say about this pivotal tango in the future. For now here is the 1927 recording syncd. with the sheet music. De Caro plays the sections in A-B-A-B-A order and I have arranged the music accordingly.

A special thanks to Ruben who created the piano arrangement and made it available on Musescore, here. Please honour the license terms – which are the same used on my site – as specified in the Creative Commons license.

Flores negras, 1927:

An orquesta típica is an ensemble of musicians who play tango music. Typically,  there is a string section, a bandoeon section, a piano, and sometimes a singer or two. There is no specific rhythm section – no drums or other percussion instruments. An orquesta típica is an expanded version of a sexteto tipico, which includes 2 bandoneons, 2 violins, double bass, and piano.

I call any band that plays tango, no matter what the instrumentation, an orquesta. Not entirely accurate but it simplifies things.

The word lyricism is used to describe the quality and character of music which is predominantly lyrical in character. That is, music with a smooth, and connected, effortless flowing character, often with broad sweeping melodies and gentle accompaniment.

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2 Responses to Flores negras, Julio De Caro (1927)

  1. jantango says:

    Thanks for describing the Stroh violin which I thought was a violin with horn for amplification. The sound is charming. High society in Buenos Aires danced to De Caro’s music.

    • tangomonkey says:

      De Caro is quite different and I’m not sure he was all that interested in writing/playing dance music, compared to music in general. He did, of course, have a big influence on other tango musicians and composers.

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