Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos, Francisco Canaro (1930)

I’m not sure when Francisco Canaro wrote the music and lyrics for the vals, “Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos” (I don’t know what your eyes have done to me), but he first recorded it in 1930 with Ada Falcón. YouTube has it, here.

(Michael Lavocah, in his informative book Tango Stories: Musical Secrets, has the back story on the piece’s composition. Canaro and Falcón, who was a huge success well before recording with Canaro, were having an affair. As can be surmised by the title, the song is about a guy’s (Canaro’s) infatuation with a woman (Falcón) whose eyes he cannot get out of his mind. The entire YouTube clip above has Falcón’s eyes looking over our heads, into the distance. A not so subtle clue about the title and content of the song…)

Canaro recorded the vals several times and Lucio Demare and Juan D’Arienzo made a recording each. Tango.info has list, here. Canaro’s versions have some minor and substantial differences between them. Besides the Falcón in 1930, there is the 1930 recording with Charlo, here; the 1931 Carlos Gardel version; a duet version in 1953 with Mario Alonso and Alberto Arenas. The duet recording has a large , including vibraphone. There are some nice passages but overall the flavour is too schmaltzy, with high strings, and the vibraphone, rather than adding to the texture stands out and gets in the way. It is quite forgettable. That’s only my opinion. You can have a listen on YouTube, here, to form your own conclusions.

Demare played piano in the Canaro orquesta in Paris during the late 1920s, but after Francisco had left for New York. While in Europe Demare formed a trio with singers Agustín Irusta and Roberto Fugazot. They recorded “Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos” sometime between 1928-1935. Here it is on YouTube. The trio toured Europe, Central and South America before Demare returned to Buenos Aires in 1936 and subsequently formed his orquesta in 1938.

The best of the bunch, to my ears, is D’Arienzo with Osvaldo Ramos, recorded in 1965. I’ll sync that one and write up some commentary in a few days and link to it here. (Done, here it is).

I explain the perhaps in too much detail for some. The form is a-typical, and since form plays such an important role in how we perceive music it is worth exploring how the sections and phrases are organized. Read it or skip ahead, as you like. But please follow the cursor and observe how the music changes with the phrases and sections, which are marked on the score. That’s worth doing even for those who don’t read music.

There are 4 distinct s, A and B, and there is an introduction and an 8 bridge (a shorter section with different music and character) connecting sections A and B. The introduction and bridge are instrumental; all other sections are sung throughout. The may be seen a couple ways. Section A may be heard as 32 bars or as a 16 bar section played twice in a row. Section B is longer, at 35 bars. It may be heard as a 16 bar section repeated and extended for an additional 3 bars, to a 19 bar section.

I’m leaning more towards the large 32 and 35 bar sections because even though both sections are fundamentally 16 bars repeated, the melodic difference in the final 8 bar phrase, which is extended to 11 bars on the repeat of Section B, creates a different character. This difference adds a beautiful question and answer quality at the section level, ie. between the two 16 bar sections, or in this case large 16 bar phrases.

So: intro (12) – A (32) – bridge (8) – B (35) – A (32) – bridge (8) – B (35).
Or: intro (12) – A1 (16) – A2 (16) – bridge (8) – B1 (16) – B2 (19).

Either way, there are phrases at the 8, 4, and 2 bar levels, functioning most of time in question and answer fashion.

Music/Audio Sync
Despite the fact Canaro wrote the music and lyrics for Falcón, it is not my preferred Canaro recording. That would be the Gardel, because of the simplicity in the accompaniment and Gardel’s . Which surprises me, because I’m not a big fan. Gardel takes great liberties with the melodic rhythm, often changing it substantially. Rubato is a musical term to describe playing with the beat, meaning the notes are not hit exactly on the beat, they anticipate it, coming a bit earlier, or drag it, coming a bit late. The purpose is to make the melodic phrasing more “expressive”. When done properly it is nice to hear. Sometimes it gets overdone.

The sheet music source is Todo Tango. The introduction is not the one Canaro plays, so I have not included it. At the end of the introduction, after the grand pause, the music and audio sync will start and the orange bar will move across the page.

I haven’t added the lyrics to the sheet music – that is a very time consuming process – perhaps at a later time. Alberto Paz has a translation, here.

Here is Canaro and Gardel, 1931:

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.

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.

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

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...

Phrasing is both how the phrase is constructed to accomplish the composer's objectives and how the music is played, that is, interpreted.

Depending on the context, when I write "phrasing" I may be referring to how the music is written in phrases, such as Question and Answer Phrasing, or how the orquesta interprets and shapes the music, or both.   more...

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2 Responses to Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos, Francisco Canaro (1930)

  1. Jantango says:

    I’m partial to Ada Falcon’s recording, especially since she was singing it for her lover. Homero Manzi wrote for Nelly Omar. I enjoyed reading the lyrics while Falcon sang.

    Gardel could do anything he wanted with the music. He was a great artist. It’s nice to follow along with the score (how long does it take to enter into Noteflight?) I appreciate the time and effort it takes. The score on TodoTango with variations and separate parts is unusual. Gardel delivers the story and makes us believe it.

    • tangomonkey says:

      I linked the YouTube versions to make it easy for people to have a listen and decide which ones they like most. I didn’t link to the D’Arienzo because I’m working on a more detailed presentation of it. That one is my favourite, but I’m generally partial to his crisp rhythms and more syncopated playing.

      There is software to scan and convert printed music into music notation software. The music has to be nice and clear and high resolution. Tango sheet music is barely readable, so I have to enter everything note-by-note. It takes 2-3 hours to enter the music into NoteFlight, longer when I add the lyrics and harmonies – because I have to figure them out first. Often the sheet music does not follow the structural form of the recording or there are sections which are not played. Since I sync the music with a recording, I have to enter the music according to how it is played, which I have to determine first by listening to the recording and noting the sections and the order they are played. And if I sync the music with another recording I have to cut and paste the sections to match the recording.

      Yes, the sheet music on Todo Tango is quite different from what Canaro plays. The Section B counter melody is not always played. When it is either the violin or bandoneon plays it. I didn’t include it this time but will probably add it for the D’Arienzo sync. And there is a large chunk of music in the middle of the score, which Canaro doesn’t play. And the bandoneon variacion on Section B is only played in the Charlo recording, at the very end.

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