80,000 missing tango recordings

Last night I squeezed myself into the audio room in the Cervantes Room for a presentation by Ignacio Varchausky of the Tango Digital Archive - and I learnt some disturbing stuff about what has happened to tango recordings of the 20th century. It seems we've got a real treat in store if the Tango Digital Archive can get the funding it needs to digitise the 100,000 recordings they have determined were made in the first part of the 20th century. So far we are only listening to around 20,000 (just checked my itunes library and find I am 15,000 short! - note to self to spend more on tango music!) and most of them are really bad recordings.
Pretty obvious actually - there are some I have that I could never use the background noise and scratchings are so bad you can barely hear the music.
Senor Varchausky and his team at the Tango Digital Archive have just completed the Pilot Phase of their project to digitise Every tango recording. His presentation showed us how the database will operate and how it will be possible to search a singer/orchestra/composer etc on their biography, their discography, movies, catalogues, published music and a number of other parameters. The bad news is that there is no government funding for this project of national importance to Argentina's tango heritage and TangoVia relies on donations. If they can get enough funding it will take 5 or 6 years to digitise the 100,000 identified recordings - and make them available to consumers in a system like (but much better) than itunes.
As you can gather, I am a complete convert... and I am now working out schemes for how I can help to raise a few dollars towards the project.
I am also a complete convert to Fuego Blanco - and at the risk of boring you, dear reader, I would like to once again say what great musicians they are. Last night as we nibbled on empanadas and Argentinian wine, courtesy of the Argentinian Consulate, we listened - and some danced - to Fuego Blanco with Maggie Ferguson and Santigo Polimeni on bandoneons. Bodes very well for Thursday night's milonga at Copacabana!

There's more about the Tango Digital Archive on TangoAustralia.


Preen and Ogle said…
100,000 recordings.Wow!

During my first year of dancing (about 5 years ago) I was convinced that there were actually only about 50 to maybe 100 tangos ever written. This conclusion was based on what I was hearing in the London milongas where I was dancing. Imagine my surprise when I finally got to Buenos Aires. So why do we dance to such a limited repetoire? I know, I know, I love them too but still ...........

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