Valsecito Amigo, Aníbal Troilo (1943)

I posted the first milonga sync on the blog a few days ago. I think it’s time for the first vals.

Vals is the lyrical member of the tango family and the only one in “3”; always in 3/4 . Still somewhat melancholic – usually in a minor key – but with lush flowing melodies and less rhythmic accents. In general; there are highly rhythmic valses too. Troilo manages a nice balance between lyricism (Section A) and rhythmic syncopation (Section B).

Troilo wrote Valsecito Amigo in 1943 (as far as I can determine) with lyrics by José María Contursi. The recording is also from 1943, with the great Francisco Fiorentino singing the vocals. has a list of recordings by other orquestas. A YouTube clip of Ruiz is here. And Canaro is here.

There are two s: A, which is repeated immediately, with some differences; and B, also played two times in succession. The A sections are each 16 s long and, curiously, the B sections are 17 bars long. The A-A-B-B grouping is played twice. The first time as an instrumental, the second time with vocals. Then another instrumental B section is played, with a very nice bandoneon solo in addition to the usual melody. The vals concludes with a vocal B section.

So the form is: instrumental A-A-B-B, vocal A-A-B-B, instrumental B, vocal B. Interesting.

I haven’t found a translation yet and the score from Todo Tango is so blurry I can’t make out the text, so it isn’t included. Sorry about that. I will add the lyrics later if I can locate them. And I’ll write a bit of analysis up later too. The B section in particular is quite interesting and a nice syncopated contrast to Section A.

Valsecito Amigo. Troilo, 1943. The sections are identified in red and when sung the word “Vocal” is added.

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.

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.

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3 Responses to Valsecito Amigo, Aníbal Troilo (1943)

  1. Jantango says:

    How wonderful to read the score for this exquisite vals. I have a question about the dotted half notes that are so short, especially measures 19 and 20. Why do you suppose that is?

    • tangomonkey says:

      There are quite a few differences between the two A sections. I thought of labelling the second one B (and B, C) but because the two As have a similar “feel” and balanced Question and Answer quality to them I didn’t.

      The second A section begins with a repeat of the first one. Bars 17-20 are identical to bars 1-4. And they form the first 4 bar phrase in the section. But as you heard the dotted half notes in bars 19 and 20 are clipped short, and accented.

      Some speculation…Perhaps this is to emphasize, or foretell a change is about to happen. Compare bar 21 to bar 5 and you’ll notice bar 21’s melody is higher. It stays higher for 5 bars and the rhythm is different sometimes. So are the harmonies. From bar 21 the orchestration is different too. Strings only on the melody this time, creating a “mellower” sound than bar 5-6. Then in bars 24-32 the bandoneons have the melody, played moderately clipped and accented. Underneath there is a lyrical counter melody in the strings. It’s because of these differences that I considered labeling the second Section A, Section B.

      I think this is as a reasonable reason why the dotted half notes are clipped – they do stand out – to mark a change in the music from what came before and what is to come. This is how I hear it but there is no right or wrong explanation for why the time value and articulation is different. It could be as simple as differentiating the end of the 4 bar phrases (bars 19-20, bars 3-4). I like that explanation too, and it has the benefit of being simple.

      Make sense?

  2. Jantango says:

    The composers, arrangers, and orquestra leaders created masterpieces with attention to each detail. There is nothing ordinary about this genre of music. I like your explanation. It’s simple enough.

    Todo Tango has the lyrics (but no translation):

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