Sentimientos

Following up from the “And now for something completely different” post, here’s a look at Andres Linetzky and Ernesto Romeo’s Sentimientos.

Daniel Trenner, Homer and Cristina Ladas, in a dance which I find very musical and deeply in tune with the music. Yet the music is no way a tango.

(There is a table at the end of the post, listing the musical elements I describe in the next few brief sections, with some additional information, and the timings where these things occur in the video. Skip ahead and come back to the text later, if you prefer).

 

Rhythms

The music’s is 4/4. The 4 count is marked continuously, except during part of the and . One of the first things we hear is a “back beat”, jargon for accenting the normally week beats, 2 and 4. Although common in popular music – a distinguishing feature of rock music since its early days – “back beat” does not exist in tango. Neither do percussion instruments.

Percussion “instruments” have an important function throughout this music. (“Instruments” is in quotes because the percussive sounds we hear are synthesized, imitating a drum kit).  There are three layers, or rhythmic s, distinguished by unique rhythms and pitch registers.

Musicians will understand the “counts” I am going to use, which dancers may not recognize. Divide each beat into four evenly spaced “counts”: 1-E-&-Ah (four 16th notes). Numbers are the beat (repeat the syllables for beats 2, 3, and 4); E is the second quarter of the beat; & is the half beat; Ah is the last quarter of the beat.  I should provide notation and audio clips, but just listen, you will hear them. The introduction plays the rhythms right from the start, in every bar.

The lowest sounding motif is in the bass drum. Most of the time it’s rhythm is Ah1-3- . Cymbals play 1&2&3&4&. A snare drum (and hi-hat?) play on and accent beats 2 and 4, creating the back beat.

Other “instruments”, the accompaniment, play the harmonies in a fourth rhythm: &2E&. This rhythmic framework, the same three percussive motifs and the accompaniment rhythm, is maintained almost constantly, ceasing only to emphasize, help create, changes in the music’s character.

Form and Phrases

There are two main s, (A and B) with a 10 introduction, 5 bar , and 5-6 bar .

Section A is 14 bars long, with an 8 bar then a 6 bar one. Very asymmetrical and unusual. There are two 4 bar sub phrases in the 8 bar phrase, and two 3 bar sub phrases in the 6 bar phrase. Most of the time the sub phrases are apparent, sometimes they are blurred together.

Section B is 16 bars long with two 8 bar phrases, each having two 4 bar phrases, each with two 2 bar phrases.

Sound familiar? I write (almost constantly) about question and answer phrasing in tango; it’s here too. Flow with the melodic shapes and rhythms to hear it.

Musical Character

The introduction establishes the rhythmic motifs and accompaniment style, which will be used throughout. There is no melody, solely rhythms and harmonies.

Section A dominates, being heard four times to a single instance of B. Section A’s character is one of sweeping , mostly long held s alternating with a few faster ones. The section’s repetition creates and sustains the mood, which is broken in the middle by the sharply contrasting character of Section B and the bridge.

Section B has a much faster melodic rhythm, more crisply played, with much less lyricism. The bridge is noticeable for its lack of marked beat, at first. We are lead back to Section A and the lyrical, graceful melody and mood resumes.

The music ends with a coda in a free-form fantasy-like way, fading out without a clear cadence or conclusion. (Hence the coda being 5-6 bars long).

 

Summary Table

Section Bars (Phrase lengths) Start Time Musical Features
Intro 10 0:00 establishes the rhythmic motifs; establishes the accompaniment style and rhythm: harmonies played in block chords &2E& rhythm; no melody
A 14 (8+6) :31 same rhythmic and accompaniment framework; lyrical violin playing in a mostly slow melodic rhythm
A 14 (8+6) 1:13 same rhythmic and accompaniment framework; bandoneon-like sounding instrument playing the lyrical melody; mostly slow melodic rhythm
B 16 (8+8) 1:54 rhythms stop; melody is more dramatic, a fast melodic rhythm, played crisply; rhythmic motifs return; descending melodic
Bridge 5 2:41 another descending melodic sequence; percussive accents on 4 and 1; melody stops; return to &2E& accompaniment rhythm
A 14 (8+6) 2:54 rhythmic motifs return; lyricism; melody played by “fake strings” and quasi-bandoneon sound; improvisatory, somewhat aggressive violin counter melody
A 14 (8+6) 3:36 rhythmic motifs continue; melody played and harmonized by “strings”; improvisatory “bandoneon” counter melody in 1st phrase, by violin in 2nd phrase
Coda 5-6 4:17 rhythms cease, no back beat; accompaniment returns, plays harmonies in the &2E& rhythm; free fantasy-like violin melody; fade out with no definable cadence or conclusion

Back to the text

The two numbers, one above the other, written near the beginning of the first staff line (or whenever it changes), specifying the number of beats in a measure and the type of note that gets one beat.

In terms of form, a bridge is a short section used to connect two other larger sections. Usually the musical character is different but complementary and may contain elements from the preceding section and/or the next one. It is literally a "bridge" between them.

In terms of form, a coda (Italian for "tail") is a short section used to end a piece of music.

A short melodic and/or rhythmic figure having distinct musical character and qualities. A motif is often a component of the larger melody.

An example, Carlos Di Sarli's Bahia Blanca:
The first 2 bars

Notice how the last few notes, the melodic shape and rhythm, are used to create the echo-sighing effect in the next couple of bars. Those notes are a motif.
Bars 3-4

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 bar or measure is a small segment of music containing all the number of beats as specified by the time signature.

In terms of form, a bridge is a short section used to connect two other larger sections. Usually the musical character is different but complementary and may contain elements from the preceding section and/or the next one. It is literally a "bridge" between them.

In terms of form, a coda (Italian for "tail") is a short section used to end a piece of music.

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...

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.

A note is a sound or tone having two aspects:
1) The primary, auditory one, is pitch. Each note has a unique pitch, with a sound wave frequency measurable in hertz. In many parts of the world instruments are tuned to A at 440Hz.

2) The secondary, temporal one, is duration, called "time value" or "note value". When written or played each note has a specific duration, how long it lasts relative to the beat.

When pitch and duration are combined we get melodic shape and rhythm. Pitch creates melody and gives it direction, the melodic shape; duration provides the melodic rhythm.

When a melodic pattern is repeated, starting on different notes each time. Each repetition has the same melodic shape and melodic rhythm as the original statement.

The starting notes may be in an ascending or descending direction, based on notes in the underlying scale or an arpeggio on the underlying harmony; or some other interval. Typically the pattern is played three times.

The last 4 Bar Phrase in Section B (bars 29-32) of Di Sarli's Bahia Blanca is a sequence. The same one bar melody is played three times, the second and third time a scale step lower that the preceding one. A sequence doesn't have to be the melody. In this example the piano also plays a sequence in a counter-melody like relationship with the melody. The sequence is a bar of four bass notes in an ascending arpeggio, repeated from different starting notes.

The melodic pattern is played three times.

This entry was posted in Analysis and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sentimientos

  1. myleskg says:

    Do you have any sheet music for this? If so, would it be possible to send it to me? I can’t find music for it anywhere.

    • tangomonkey says:

      Sorry, I don’t have the sheet music. It likely doesn’t exist, other than in Linetzky’s personal collection. Perhaps you could ask a musician friend to transcribe it for you.

Leave a Reply to tangomonkey Cancel reply