The roots of today’s tango music are lost in history, but it’s widely known that tango music actually has its origins in the ancient musical activities of the Gypsy Gypsies of ancient Spain, particularly in Andalusia, where they performed a wide variety of dances, songs and rituals. The word tango first comes from the Spanish term traigo, which means roughly, “dance”. A dance troupe usually consisted of a male dancer with an instrument called a samba, which was used to hit the high notes, or flamenco, of a particular song. The women would join in at the sides. As the popularity of these dances spread throughout Spain and surrounding areas, they were taken up by people in other cities as well, and by the end of the eighteenth century there were hundreds of samba theaters in Spain – where people would watch the beauties and wonders of Spain and the works of its tango dancers.
Throughout this long history, different rhythms and styles came about, with many borrowing the basic elements of tango music. The Dixieland style of tango music, characterized by its steady beat, is almost an exact copy of the old-time carnival fiesta music of Spain. Another common style is the flamenco, which features quick, hard rhythms. Both of these styles are characterized by a fast drum beat, often combined with clapping, seen in salsa music.
Today, many flamenco dances are adopted as a popular art form in Argentina and Brazil. In fact, many flamenco dances were first recorded in Spanish and then adopted into other languages and dances. Most people are familiar with the main styles of both classical and modern Argentine tango music. But even if you’ve only studied the basics of this unique dance form, you’ve probably noticed how much it differs from the traditional dance form.
Traditional Argentina tango music was marked by a brisk, quick tempo and energetic dance steps. Many of these “tango numbers” are famous around the world, but many people don’t realize that the Carlos gardel version of tango was the original. Carlos Gardel was the master Carlos gardel, and he did most of the work creating the familiar Argentina rhythms.
The difference between the modern day Argentina tango music and what we know today comes in the melodic quality of the rhythms. If you listen to a traditional piece, the melody is quite clear. However, most songs today lack the melodies to really make them sing out.
The earliest version of what we know as tango music was created by a group of women from Argentina that would dance the night away in the streets of Buenos Aires. These women were known as “bandoneons”. They would put on their own show for the men who passed by. Their dances were often so interesting that people would be compelled to stop and watch.
When the Spanish music group La Vida released its song “Tango”, the women of Buenos Aires took the phrase “Tango is my special song” and made it their own. By adding the beat of drums and guitar solos in the background of this fast paced song, it was something completely new and interesting. Soon other groups decided to take the term “tango” and use it in their own ways. It became a romantic dance form with a deep romantic meaning for many Argentines.
As more dance halls started to feature tango music, it became popular with the masses. Eventually it spread all over Spain, to the point where it became the national dance form in Argentina. Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, has hosted major tango festivals where you can witness amazing original forms of this beautiful dance.