A local ex-porteño ( … mm, I’m not sure if you can ever stop being a porteño) was recently commenting on some tango music. Like many natives of Buenos Aires, he grew up listening to tangos, but he never learned to dance it. Anyway, I digress.
On hearing D’Arienzo’s interpretation of Pensaló bien, he commented, “My mother would have said: Que tangazo!” I got his drift, but didn’t know exactly what he meant by tangazo. So he dutifully emailed me a grammatical explanation of augmentative suffixes in Spanish. Still, a question remained for me: What makes a good tango a tangazo? Does it simply come down to individual preference?
Later I pressed him further. He thought there would be some common denominators of tangazos. But what were they? He consulted a Uruguayan tangophile who lives interstate, and after some lengthy discussion, this is what they came up with:
- Lyrics which scratch below the skin because they 'say something'
- Music which is good to dance or listen to
- Longevity - people listen to those tangos over the years, the 'guardia vieja' and the new generation alike enjoy them. They never die.
- A fan of Troilo (bandoneon as the lead instrument) as compared to a fan of D'Arienzo (piano as the lead instrument) would have different lists of tangazos
So that made me wonder whether some instrumental tangos make the grade?
What about great valses and milongas? I’ve only heard the diminuitive term: valsecito, rather than an augmented version. Could there be a reason for this?
Anyway, here are a few pieces (links to lyrics, music and translations) which I consider tangazos. Of course, you may have a different view altogether about whether these could be considered tangazos. Indeed, there may well be other definitions of tangazos. If so, I’d love to hear from you.
Gloria (De Angelis/Dante)
Adiós Arrabal (D’Agostino/Vargas)
El Adiós (Donato/Lagos)
Tristezas de la Calle Corrientes (Troilo/Fiorentino)