Escuela de Lenguas UNLP/About Argentina/Argentinean Music

Musical Genres Edit

Tango Edit

Origin and development Edit

Tango was created on both sides of the Río de la Plata between 1850 and 1890. At the beginning of the 19th century, with its popular acceptance worldwide, the dance evolved to its current form.

This dance, that originated in the Port of Buenos Aires and quickly spread to the southern neighborhoods, such as San Telmo, Monserrat and Pompeya, had a parallel growth to that of the Argentine society, formed by European immigrants, who contributed to it with many of their elements.

Instruments and sources Edit

Around 1860 it was danced loose and with music that was based on the fandango and the candombe of the black people. At that time, there was still no Tango, as a dance style.

The sound of the bandoneon (of German origin) was incorporated as something essential to pianos, creole guitars, double basses and violins.

An underground dance Edit

The "tango arrabalero" arose in the neighboroods that was danced in the suburbs. Men and women with bodies tightly embraced scandalized the society of the time. It was condemned by the church and banned by the police for inciting to scandal. Its prohibition forced people to dance in hidden places until the nineteenth century.

At that time, only the humble social strata, those of the suburb, cultivated that dance. The Tango emerged in brothels, ranches and clubs. The brothels encouraged tango in order to get male and female bodies closer.

Tango was conceived as "vulgar" by the most conservative strata, marginalized socially for seeking sensuality and pleasure.

Tango in the XXth century Edit

In 1910 the tango was danced in Paris, rapidly expanding its popularity around the world. His glamour conquered the highest sectors of society and it was danced in almost all European capitals.

The people in charge of presenting the tango in the salons of the old world were the young sons of traditional families, who had long frequented the places of Buenos Aires where tango was danced, to the disgust of the aristocratic society, which still viewed it with bad eyes for its background. Its final acceptance took a while longer until it was considered an example of popular expression.

Origin of the word 'tango' Edit

Among the many mysteries that tango contains, the first one is that of its own denomination. The tango voice is found in African, Hispanic and colonial cultures. According to some theories, "tango" would derive from "tang", which, in one of the languages ​​spoken in the black continent, means “to touch and approach”.

Tango, in Spanish, is considered to be a voice derived from "tangir", a word that in ancient Spanish means "to play an instrument" and from "tangere", which in Latin means "to touch".

At the time of the colony, "tango" was the name that black people gave to their percussion drums. They pronounced the word "tango" accentuating it on the last syllable. And "tango" was also the dances organized by the Africans who came to the Río de La Plata.

A 'sad thought' that is danced Edit

The tango was born as a dance, as a different way of dancing that was known until then as: "habaneras", "mazurcas", "milongas"...  It was a spontaneous creation of men and women in brothels, where it was possible to embrace the couple, stick to your partner´s body: face to face, chest to chest, belly to belly, thigh to thigh, pulse to pulse.

For Horacio Ferrer, the tango of the beginning was "the most torn or improvised and sudden choreographic creation for a couple that will surpass, in these respects, the creations of the popular Spanish baroque or the high German waltz."

Dancers proposed to the musicians of that time, usually guitar, flute and violin players, the intensity of the rhythm with a changing display of figures that were created on the on fly: "the cut", "the eight", “the half-moon”... They were the inventors of the dance.

The story will speak of that tango of the suburbs. Then the "canyengue" and the "lounge tango" will appear, which are, according to Enrique Santos Discépolo [1], different ways of dancing "a sad thought".

Also, Argentine painters, enhanced through their paintings a universe that is a true reflection of the tango spirit. In his works,  Sigfredo Pastor[2] affirms the vigor of the intertwined dance, forming or fusing the couple almost in a single figure, in fulfillment of a magnificent appearance of sculptural plasticity and that seems determined to fix indefinitely in time.

Famous Musicians Edit

Mercedes "La Negra" Sosa Edit

Haydée Mercedes Sosa (her real name) was born on 9th July 1935 in a humble home in San Miguel de Tucumán. She began to sing when she was 15 year sold. In 1963 she founded with other artists, the "movimiento del Nuevo Cancionero", a group whose goal was to put into value, create and develop popular art. Her career was led by those values. She was forced to leave the country during the military dictatorship of the seventies in our country. She was really appreciated by many international artists. She also sang with a lot of young Argentinean artists, such as Charly Garcia, Victor Heredia and Leon Gieco. She died on 4thOctober 2009whenshewas 74 year sold. She was known as "THE AMERICAN VOICE" and is still popular by that name all over the world.

Atahualpa Yupanqui Edit

Atahualpa Yupanqui (which in Quechua means "he that comes from afar to say something”) is the pseudonym used by Hector Roberto Chavero Aramburo, who was born in Pergamino, Province of Buenos Aires, on January 31st, 1908 and died in Nimes, France, on 23rd May 1992. "Don Ata", as he used to be called, was a singer, guitarist, poet and writer. He is considered the most important Argentinian folklore musician. His songs have been sung by great artists such as Mercedes Sosa, Jorge Cafrune, Alfredo Zitarrosa, José Larralde, Víctor Jara, Angel Parra, Jairo, Andrés Calamaro, Divididos, Marie Laforêt and Mikel Laboa, among many others. And they continue to be part of the repertoire of countless artists in Argentina and around the world. His works express the love for the land where he was born and they reflect the culture of Río de La Plata. His poetry conveys his acute vision of nature and human beings. His guitar, as he frequently said, had been with him "a few hours after his birth, playing melodies that helped him sleep". Atahualpa Yupanqui is one of the most influential Argentinian creators of all time.

Palito Ortega Edit

Ramón Bautista Ortega, called “Palito “ is a famous Argentinian singer.He is not a very virtuous singer but he obtained the applause of all the public through his simple songs. However his career has not been easy and his life has taken him in many different directions.

Palito Ortega was born in 1941 in the province of Tucuman. He started to do many jobs when he was a child and when was a teenager too. He had a very poor and hard childhood; since he was a little boy he went to work to help his father in the breeding of his six brothers. He worked selling coffee, newspapers and shining shoes. At the age of 16 came to try his luck in Buenos Aires. His contact with the artistic world was in Belgrano radio where he became known selling coffee, later he was carrying musical instruments of the orchestras, and then he started to sing. His musical consagration was in his early twenties, when he worked in the T.V. program “El club del clan”. He also worked as an actor in that show. His songs toured the world and were translated into several languages. Also he was a director of many movies. After those jobs in his middle-ages, he decided to became a businessman. He bought his own offices and contracted Frank Sinatra to sing in the Luna Park. This resulted in a financial crash because the dollar became very expensive and he had a lot of debts.

Palito could not stand being a businessman, then he came back to his previous jobs, so he went to USA (in particular Miami ) and he worked in TV there for about five years. After that experience in his early fifties, he returned to Argentina and decided to be a politician. From October, 1991 to October, 1995 he was the governor of Tucuman, then, he was a senator for four years. After that he was candidate to vice-president of Argentina in the years 2000, but he lost it, then he retired from the politics. Now in his elderly-age, Palito keeps his best job: Singer!

Sandro Edit

Sandro was born in Buenos Aires on August 19th, 1945. His real name was Roberto Sanchez Ocampo. His father was Vicente Sanchez and his mother was Nydia Ocampo. He grew up in Valentín Alsina and he learned to play the guitar when he was a child. His paternal grandfather was from Hungary, because of that, he was known as “Gitano”. He was a musician, an actor and a famous singer. He admired and imitated Elvis Presley. In 1961, he created the musical group “Sandro y los de Fuego” which gained popularity on the TV show called “Sábados Circulares”. Some famous songs were “Rosa Rosa”, ”Quiero llenarme de ti”, ”Penumbras”, “Porque yo te amo,” among others. Sandro was the first latino Singer that sang at Madison Square Garden in U.S five times during 1970 and he was also the first artist that sang at Luna Park in Buenos Aires with great success in 1972. He also was the main actor in 16 films. The news that he suffered from enphisema was made public in 1998, causing great concern among his followers from around the world. He was addicted to tobacco, which was the main cause of the disease. On November 20th, 2009, Sandro received a heart-lung transplant in Mendoza, Argentina. On January 4th, 2010, forty five days after that and after many complications, he died.

  1. Santos Discépolo, Enrique. (Buenos Aires, March 27, 1901 - Buenos Aires, December 23, 1951). He was a composer, musician, dramatist and Argentine filmmaker.
  2. Pastor, Sigfredo. (1912 - 1994). He was an Argentine painter, draftsman and engraver. His favorite subject was tango and the universe of popular music.