Malena Music/Audio Sync, Lucio Demare (1942)

Malena was composed by Lucio Demare, on a poem by Homero Manzi, in 1941. It’s been frequently recorded, and re-issued. Tango.info has a list, here.

Demare recorded two somewhat different vocal versions, the first in 1942 with Juan Carlos Miranda, and the second in 1951 with Hector Alvarado. In 1957 Demare, a pianist, recorded a solo piano album, and Malena is one of the several tangos he plays. Aníbal Troilo made two recordings also. A 1942 version with Francisco Fiorentino and one in 1952 with Raul Beron. In both cases I think the 1940’s versions are the better ones. Osvaldo Pugliese recorded a very dynamic instrumental version in 1974.

The piano sheet music I adapted is from Todo Tango. There is a beautiful translation by Derrick Del Pilar after the score.

Lucio Demare with Juan Carlos Miranda, 1942. In A-B-A-B-A order. The first A and B s and first of the third A section are instrumental. Miranda sings the second playing of sections A and B and the last couple phrases of the third A section. Sections and phrases are identified in red.

Computer users, close the synchronized audio/video window and change the zoom level to fit an entire stave in the frame if necessary, or click here to load the score on Noteflight’s server. Click any measure to stop the playback. Mobile users tap the play arrow near the top left corner, which becomes a square. Tap that to quit playback.

Audio only controls follow the score.



Audio only.

The translation by Derrick Del Pilar is from his site Poesía de gotán

Malena
lyrics by Homero Manzi

Section A

Malena canta el tango como ninguna Malena sings the tango like no other
y en cada verso pone su corazón. and she puts her heart in every verse.
A yuyo del suburbio su voz perfuma, Her voice perfumes like suburban weeds,
Malena tiene pena de bandoneón. Malena feels the pain of the bandoneón.
Tal vez allá en la infancia su voz de alondra Perhaps in her distant youth her lark’s voice
tomó ese tono oscuro de callejón, took on that dark back-alley tone,
o acaso aquel romance que sólo nombra or perhaps it was that romance that she speaks of
cuando se pone triste con el alcohol. only when she saddens herself with alcohol.
Malena canta el tango con voz de sombra, Malena sings the tango with a shadowy voice,
Malena tiene pena de bandoneón. Malena feels the pain of the bandoneón.

Section B

Tu canción Your song
tiene el frío del último encuentro. has the chill of a last meeting…
Tu canción your song
se hace amarga en la sal del recuerdo. becomes bitter in the salt of memories…
Yo no sé I don’t know
si tu voz es la flor de una pena, if your voice is the bloom of a wound,
sólo sé que al rumor de tus tangos, I just know that the sound of your tangos,
Malena, Malena,
te siento más buena, makes me feel that you are better,
más buena que yo. better than me.

Section A. The first verse is not sung.

Tus ojos son oscuros como el olvido, Your eyes are dark as forgetfulness,
tus labios apretados como el rencor, your lips are pressed together like rage,
tus manos dos palomas que sienten frío, your hand are two doves that feel a chill,
tus venas tienen sangre de bandoneón. your veins pump the blood of the bandoneón.
Tus tangos son criaturas abandonadas Your tangos are abandoned creatures
que cruzan sobre el barro del callejón, that pass through the back-alley mud,
cuando todas las puertas están cerradas When all the doors are closed
y ladran los fantasmas de la canción. and the ghosts of song weep.
Malena canta el tango con voz quebrada, Malena sings the tango with a broken voice,
Malena tiene pena de bandoneón. Malena feels the pain of the bandoneón.

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.

A short section of music with a clear start and end quality, with a consistent or complementary musical character. Generally, the character is different from what comes after or precedes it, anywhere from subtly to very obvious. more...

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4 Responses to Malena Music/Audio Sync, Lucio Demare (1942)

  1. David P says:

    I came upon your website via a Facebook posting by Terpsichoral TangoAddict. Tango Musicology provides a wonderful resource for enriching ones understanding of tango music. Thank you for all the evident hard work. Clearly a labor of love.

  2. erico says:

    Tks for the Malena Noteflite. Intersting to see the “non conforming” size of the sections? Was this a behaviour of the poem snd hence did not conform to the expected 16bars etc

    • tangomonkey says:

      Yes indeed, the lyrics very often determine the phrase lengths and therefore the section length.

      I just marked the phrases on the score. It’s traditional to label phrases at the start of the first full bar, although many times – like here – the phrases truly begin with the pickup notes leading into that bar.

      Generally each line of text will cover 2 bars. And a pair of lines forms a 4 bar phrase. In the first verse there are 10 lines, each with approximately the same number of syllables. That makes it easy to evenly space them out over the 4 bar phrase structure and explains Section A being 20 bars long.

      The next verse has more lines – 11 – but the syllable count is arranged quite differently. The first line of the 2 line pairs has relatively few syllables compared to the second one. Demare handles that by abandoning the 4 bar phrase structure, reducing them to 3 bars. Notice this pattern happens three times – the first three 2 line pairs. The next four lines are condensed into a 5 bar phrase. Demare could have stretched out the text for an addition 2-3 bars but I think he wanted (and achieved) a kind of pathos by rushing the words into less space (beats) than he had before. And doing so also creates an 8 bar phrase, from bar 61 where the music changes character on “Yo no sé”, to the end of Section B, bar 68.

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