The Guitar in Argentinean Tango Music and its Changing Role in the 20th Century

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Last updated: October 22, 2019

The Guitar in Argentinean Tango Music and its Changing Role in the 20th Century Name: Course: Instructor: Date: The Guitar in Argentinean Tango Music and its Changing Role in the 20th Century The guitar had a prominent role in the development of tango music since the beginning. It was the first instrument used to play the music, before the introduction of other instruments such as flutes, harps, and the bandoneon. In the early beginnings of the tango music, a single musician would play the music using a guitar or an accordion. Tango music originated from the poor working class of Argentina. It incorporated different elements of the African rhythms and dances. Other musical and dance elements representing the different cultures that were in Argentina at the time also influenced the development of music to its modern forms.

The simple, poor working class could only afford simple and cheap musical instruments such as the guitar. The guitar represented the simplicity of the music, and it was suitable for accompanying the voice.[1] This changed as more people became interested in the music. Musicians began playing tango music in places such as restaurants, and they introduced the piano, which was previously considered a luxurious item. This changed the way people viewed tango, and it was no longer a pastime for the working class.

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More people belonging to the medium and upper class began appreciating the music. The musicians introduced trios, which added other accompaniments to the original instruments. Musicians preferred using these instruments because of their portability. During the twentieth century, musicians introduced the bandoneon, and it became a key feature when playing tango music. It defined tango music. This changed people’s perception of tango. The bandoneon, violin and piano, became the most common instruments when playing tango music. Tango music changed, and it developed a definitive sound.

It became more serious and temperamental. The bandoneon was the most effective instrument in expressing these changes in the tango music, and the guitar eventually took a back seat. The bandoneon replaced the flutes and the accordion used to play the music.

The introduction of the bass replaced the guitar. Musicians began adding more instruments when playing tango as major tango orchestras developed. Recently, the guitar has made a comeback in tango music.

It is mostly used by musicians interested in playing the classical music. As much as there have been developments in tango music, some musicians are realizing the importance of the guitar as they seek to remind people of the authentic nature of classical tango. Jorge Luis Borges observes the importance of the guitar in tango music in his writings. He notes that early tango music, belonging to the old guard, was primarily defined by the use of the guitar, and this made it possible for more people to claim tango as their music, irrespective of their class and status in the society.

He compared later development of tango to milonga, and noted that milonga continued to be people’s music. Ordinary people could not afford the ensembles used in the modern tango, and this made the tango less accessible. The guitar’s simplicity and ease of accompaniment fills people with nostalgia, of the classical tango. Perhaps it is these feelings of nostalgia that have contributed to the use of the guitar for many of the modern tango musicians. Tango derived from the music genre of milonga. The milonga was commonly sung by the gauchos. The gauchos are a form of Argentinean cowboys with diverse knowledge of the land.

They are rough, and they represent this roughness in the dance. The milonga was considered people’s music as it continued using the guitar even after tango music advanced to orchestras. Some musicians performed the milonga using a small ensemble of the guitar, violin, and the flute.

This was quite as the ensemble used in the early tango. Many people contributed to the development of tango music in different capacities. Carlos Gardel was instrumental in developing tango cancion. He is considered the king of the tango because of his great contribution to tango music. He would often perform the music in his movies, and this added to the popularity of the tango music. Although tango music was mostly orchestrated at the time, tango cancion continued to use the guitar as the primary accompaniment. The Mi Noche Triste composed in 1917 was Cardel’s first signature tango, and it introduced the tango cancion.[2] Astor Piazzolla was also instrumental in developing tango music.

He was a bandeneon player, and he wrote and directed many music scores. He invented the tango Nuevo, which fused tango music with jazz and classical music. Piazzollo changed the way people regarded tango. He changed the beat that was so identifiable with tango music at the time. He developed the music when the popularity in tango music was declining, and his new version helped to improve the popularity of the music.

[3] The La Comparsita composed in 1917 is one of the most famous classic tangos. Listening to the song, one hears different elements of the phrasing of tango. The composition has different sections for the violin and the piano, although musicians include other accompaniments such as bandoneon and the flute. Yamandu Costa has advanced the tango music and has reintroduced the interest of the guitar in the music. He accompanies his tango music with a seven-string guitar. He plays a variety of music genres, including the milonga and the tango.

Tango’s golden age in the 1940s led to the development of more vocal music as well as continued development of instrumentation. [4] Bibliography Dorsey, Christopher. Awkward as a Guitar in the Tango: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Guitar in the Argentinean Tango. Last modified 2005,

html Foster, W. David, Lockhart F. Melissa and Lockhart B. Darrell. Culture and Customs of Argentina. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998 Paz Alberto and Hart Valorie. Gotta Tango.

Champaign: Human Kinetics, 2008 Rosche Thomas. Argentine Tango-Class Companion: The Guide for Students of Argentine., 2007 Washabaugh, William.

The Passion of Music and Dance: Body, Gender and Sexuality. New York: Berg, 1998 [1] Christopher Dorsey, Awkward as a Guitar in the Tango: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Guitar in the Argentinean Tango, last modified 2005,

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