Dirge to Mis Amores?

Milonga de mis Amores is a piece I am very familiar with – it is our signature tune and we play it at the end of most of our milongas. Last night was the first time I had heard it played as a dirge! The slowest version I have is by Francisco Canaro recorded in 1937 which is played at 95 beats per minute – the version played by Fuego Lento  last night cannot have been more than about 70 - which completely destroyed the song's character  - maybe it is something to do with their name which means Slow Fire.
Slow Fire are regular performers at the irregular milongas organized in Sydney the Sydney tango club, Tango Synergy. They are all good professional musicians, one I was acquainted with many years ago when he taught and performed in a jazz band with a member of my family, but tango musicians they are not. Their music sounds like they are rehearsing – and that they have never listened to a recording of the tango music from the Golden Age that we all love to dance to. Their repertoire varies from Dirge de Mis Amores to some well-played but barely danceable Piazzolla and it is all thrown into a mixing pot that creates a tense vibe.
The dance floor echoes this vibe. Couples intent on showing off their ‘skills’ (read kicks) vie with couples who simply want to dance in line of dance and those who are new to tango and just want a space to shuffle. There is no line of dance and very little consideration of other dancers!   It is the first lot that make the floor unfriendly – and the same vibe happens at the other venue where this milonga takes place. It was interesting that when the band was playing the floor was fairly sparsely populated and as soon as the music from DJ Hosanna replaced it , the floor filled. Hosanna’s music was imminently danceable – she played music of the 1930s and 40s that was refreshing after the directionless playing that had gone before. But it was not possible for the playlist to overcome the disconnection that the music played by the band had generated.
There are those who don’t go to this milonga because of the band – and as it is the only milonga on in Sydney on the 5th weekends they find a dose of murder and mayhem on the TV more acceptable.  It says much that there are enough tango dancers keen to dance that they will come to this milonga despite the band – myself included.
I have heard this band play well when led by Argentine musician and professor Joaquin Amenabar, but when left to their own devices they play like a jazz band doing a gig for the money – not like a tango band – a group of musicians who perform as an ensemble because of the love of it!

Comments

tangocherie said…
You know, even Canaro's classical recording of this is too slow for me to enjoy, despite all of the traspie that Ruben does.

So I can't imagine trying to dance to it even slower. I'm sure it did sound like a dirge. What a shame.
Anonymous said…
Fuego Lento a plea to you.
As a person who has been attending the fifth Saturday of the month milonga I had always assumed Fuego Lento was an amateur group being paid a nominal sum and therefore I suffered in silence their mangling of this beautiful music. I have just been informed that most are professional musicians and some friends of the originator of the fifth Saturday milonga and at one time they were paid something like $2000 per night to perform.
Synergy took over the fifth Saturday about two years ago and I assume, in respect of the originators have not changed things.
Tango music is almost sacred to those who attend milongas. Its qualities are magical and transforming but when played badly the pain and despair of the tortured listeners permeates the room.
Please Please Fuego Lento, as professional musicians recognize you are not able to play tango music the way it should be played, recognize you are causing a lot of grief to those of us that love this music and please refuse to play tango on the fifth Saturday so we can enjoy this night dancing to real tango music and any profit can be directed to a worthwhile cause.
Mulham Dawish
Andrew James said…
Oy why don't you try playing tango music and see how you go. then go and do a gig and review yourself! Or maybe you could enlighten us as to How to play tango music exactly, or which magic potion to drink?
Hi Andrew, I studied music for many years and I know how difficult it is to play! This group are professional musicians and the way they play tango music is distressing. I have heard your group play a number of times and you know where it is at - this group simply don't seem to care...and one can only assume they are doing it for the high fee.
John Lowry said…
How disappointing to hear this criticism. Some of these musicians (Dan Wallace - piano; Daniel Weltlinger - violin & Hugh Kluger - contrabass) played with Joaquin Amenabar Quartet over 3 days at Milonga Para Los Niños July 2010, in Brisbane.

Performances included a concert, a ball and an afternoon milonga (Tea Dance). The weekend was, to say the least, spectacular, due in large part to the quality of the band. For me, a memorable moment was the rehearsal before the ball where the quartet changed from "concert" mode to "dance" mode with more dance tempo.

I agree that bands must distinguish between concert and dance music. From what I see, the problem can be a vicious circle. If the bands can't get enough dance gigs they can't hold musicians, and building a reasonable dance repertoire becomes a problem. (Unlike many DJ's musicians won't make the huge commitment required for love alone).

Nonetheless, playing concert music to a dance crowd is a big mistake. Organisers should take more control over what live bands are playing and use them judiciously during a milonga.

Some vision here - http://www.paralosninos.net/ (just to show how good they can be. Please note the video was taken with a hand-held handycam or iPhone, so does not accurately represent the actual depth of sound).
Thank you John - and thanks for posting the link to the video. I agree that this band can play well, but they didn't want to the other night.

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