Tango Argentino > Tango Metronome?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Someday, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Someday

    Someday Member

    I have a difficult time learning the quick-quick slows associated with tango. My dancing is currently 'on the beat' but those quick-quicks madly elude me. Doesn't matter if it milonga or vals. My life experience of sitting behind a computer terminal and starting to learn to dance at over 50 has shrunk those neural connections. So, like a blind man learning to see, I need to start small and build up from there. I took a Milonga class from Jorge Nell and his wife, where they used claves to tap out the beat. He did the first major beat and she did the 3 next ones (if memory serves me correct). It was easy for me to use the beats of the claves to figure out whether I wanted to do slows/fasts, and, when I lost track of where I was in the timing, I could quickly resync.

    I'd love to be able to listen to a steady timing of various tango beats without the music for now until I can train my body to step in time. The only thing that comes close is "Tango Let's Dance to the Music" book by Joaquin Amenabar (includes DVD/MP3s), which appears to be excellent and marks the beat, but it's still elusive to me.

    I was thinking that a Tango Metronome which sounds out the rhythm would be a big help in me practicing the quick quick slows, whether for traspie, vals, tango. I just want something that taps out the beat and endlessly repeats so I can use it to train my mind/body connection. Then, I could move on from there.
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    This at first: tango dancing on the beat is fine! There are a lot of old milongueros in BAs that dance even milonga on the beat.

    (That makes me wonder. Did they teach tango or milonga? Didactically seen I would prefer 2/4 measure for a milonga).
    My method instead. It uses two different channels and is said to be easier than the clave method: put sheets of paper on the floor, all in a row or circle and in stride length. All sheets must have the same distance. A red one always indicates the strong beat (aka 1), the following three white sheets the lesser beats. Play any music in 4/4 and try to sync your stepping to the pattern on the floor. First goal always is to find the 1. As soon as a student can sync the music to his stepping yellow sheets come into play. You place them between the other sheets. They indicate the off-beats. Better call them (ands) instead of quicks. Vary the position of the yellow sheets and work (better walk) yourself through all possible rhythm patterns.

    Try these online libraries and copy the files to your pc or mobile.
    - https://jimdooley.net/Drum-Loops-and-Beats
    - http://groovebits.com/categories/index/0/beats

    I´ve got an old Junghans Metronome with two bells. 4/4 sounds as dong ting ring ting, 3/4 ring ting ting. But of course these togs are little treasures for the shelf. (First I wrote for the self, and that´s also true).

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  3. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    A lot of people have trouble finding the "beat" in tango song, especially in the beginning, because it doesn't have percussion (drums). So what you are experiencing is not unusual.

    My advice would be to listen to lots of tango music first (like when driving, or just sitting and relaxing at home), until some songs become familiar to you. Then at some point, also tap with your finger to "the" beat, while listening to the songs. Eventually, try different rhythms (like slow - slow - slow - pause, and eventually work your way up to slow - slow - quick quick - slow). Just be patient.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'd be interesting in knowing if this works for you.
    It's at TangoMonkey's TangoMusicology site.


    On this page he has the sheet music and the music itself for Bahia Blanca. It's not only a beautiful song, but at the listed 115 beats per minute, is slow enough that you can hopefully learn to both hear, and actually do, your "quick"s.

    Rather than just practice the quicks, I'm thinking it might be more productive to learn to dance them to the music, since a song that had the same pattern throughout is less common than ones that use a syncopated phrase hear and there

    If you are interested, as I am because I'm back from time off from tango, maybe we can have a short? discussion of actual steps and the styling you could do.

    BTW TM's site is an excellent resource, probably the best that I'm aware of.

    And, kudos to you for pursuing this!
  5. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Quick-quick-slow applies to "Ballroom" or American style tango. There really isn't a repetitive quick-quick-slow in AT. I took a musicology class at the Atlanta Tango Festival where the instructor said you can follow the melody or harmony. I took a musicology class at the New York Tango festival where the instructor you can follow a particular instrument. Don't reduce dancing tango to forcing quick-quick-slow.
  6. Someday

    Someday Member

    Thanks all for the helpful replies.
    My wife takes great pleasure in dchester's reply because it's exactly what she was telling me to do. So we practiced to La Guinada and basically walked it, and like dchester says, began to put in pauses and quick quicks. This is the kind of thing I need (I think). I took a class from Gustavo/Jesica Hornos out here in the San Francisco area and this method is like they taught it with insertions of pauses and quick quicks. Problem is for me is that, it doesn't come naturally, so by the time I get home I have forgotten the methodology and maybe more importantly the feeling. So, thank dchester, you made her day as she does like to be right.

    Opendoor, we put down some masking tape on the wooden floors in our house and your method is helpful. We have begun to vary steps to include a little rock step, quick quick in place, qq to the side. It's a good tool to have in our musicality growth. Thanks for the detailed reply.

    TangoManiac - I do understand that there is no repetitive qq in AT. One inserts it where 'it's needed' or wanted by the leader as part of the interpretation and expression of the music. I'll get there someday (hence my handle). I'm trying to build my fundamental skill set and technique to be able to move to the music so that I can provide my personal expression. I'm not looking for a programmatic response to any piece of music. One instructor of mine was telling me about an excellent leader with whom she had danced; he danced the melody and enabled her to dance the harmony. She says that this is quite sophisticated (and musical) to be able to lead in such a way. I think such an example (from Joaquin's Amenabar's materials - search on his name on youtube)
    youtube /watch?v=JuW5JfayFew

    Steve - I learned Tango with Bahia Blanca and agree on it's beauty (and timelessness). TM is quite detailed, and perhaps if I read music it might be more engaging (sorry). Maybe as I progress in my learning, it will be more meaningful to me, but for now, I just want to get started. I guess it's like learning to dance to a milonga...sometimes you just have to keep trying and it will finally come. And, yes, I'd be interested in discussing actual steps and styling.

    Thanks all.
    Now, off to go practice the above!
    dchester likes this.
  7. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Listening to the music will help you more than trying to hang on to a method. I doubted I'd be able to recognize one tango orchestra from another. But my classical music training proved I could tell Bach from Beethoven or Brahms. There was hope. It took years of listening to music at the milongas.

    When you know and love the music, your dance will come out of you. There's no thinking involved.


  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Glad to read this. I was starting to feel disheartened reading all this technicality I don't know! I dance to what I hear.
  9. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Yeah -- the polyrhythm in most tangos is so rich that there's not just one way to interpret it all, so don't think too much about when to 'and' (I find it conceptually easier to one-and-twooo than to quick-quick-slow as well, BTW).

    Since at various times you won't be doing it at the same time as the follower anyway, and at other times inserting it to change from parallel walking system to cross walking system (ideally with the music, but that simply comes with practice), don't sweat it too much. The only really intrusive quickstepping patterns that look stupid when not matched to the music are the long ones (i.e. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 etc.), the ones you'll be doing _with_ the follower in sync (you do need _an_ accent in the music, but often there is at least one instrument offering an excuse ;-) ) and first and foremost the ugly ones to avoid crossing musical phrases.

    For good musicality it's actually more important to detect the phrasing and the transitions between main parts of phrases and fills and transitions between 'kiki' and 'bouba' phrases (or half-phrases). See e.g. http://muraterdemsel.com/MusicPaintingsConcept.html .

    After quite some time you'll also be able to alter the movement _within_ the step to fit the mood of the music or the arrastres, but I wouldn't worry too much about that now.
  10. Deep South Nicky

    Deep South Nicky New Member

    Sorry to bring back an old thread. But if is anyone else is looking for a tango metronome, i had the same issues so I created one. I can't post links but you can now simply search on the apple app store for Tango Metronome.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

  12. Deep South Nicky

    Deep South Nicky New Member

    Thank you opendoor!
  13. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I took a tango song and manually added a backing beat to help people like you. I use it in class now to teach musicality. They dance to a pure 60 bpm metronome, then the song with the metronome on top, then just the song.
    Let me know if you're interested in it.
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Which patterns did you add to your app besides 3:3:2? (Marcato en 2, en 4, Tresillo en 2, Síncopa, Habanera, Candombe Clave?)
  15. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    I have used a metronom when solo training. A good song made me always to forget the training steps and I started to dance. To stay focused I needed metronom's neutral and boring base.

    My first 11 years of dancing I was totally unaware of beat but I was listening to other structures in the music. The songs had a kind of breathing, it was like air moving forward or going around like a slow or fast tornado. There were aspects of loudness and staccato/smoothness. Later I understood that all those changes do fit the beat system so it was possibly for me to survive. Sometimes I asked a music educated friend to check how I was doing and he told me that I was doing ok but he could not see the expressions for larger structures - I expressed the phrases but not how the phrases are cooperating and so on.

    I wonder if you have experienced a teacher addressing this kind of development or how you teach this kind of musicality?
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  16. Deep South Nicky

    Deep South Nicky New Member

    I have marcato en 2 and 4, sincopa (two different versions), habenera, pelotita fraseo, and vals. I will add Tresillo and Candombe Clave in the next version! Also let me know if you think of any more.
    opendoor likes this.
  17. Deep South Nicky

    Deep South Nicky New Member

    I am learning to dance (been playing mostly). I would definitely like to take a listen.
  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Perhaps Zamba ?
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    By the way, why do you find rhythm and beat important for dancers? In my perception too many beginning dancers keep to strictly to the beat. A pause, a ritardando, a rhythm change, and they are lost instantly. My advice would be to dance the melody or first voice, instead of creating an own internal metronome in the head that alway will conflict with the heard one.
    LadyLeader likes this.
  20. Deep South Nicky

    Deep South Nicky New Member

    Perhaps Zamba?
    Thanks for the suggestion will add too.

    By the way, why do you find rhythm and beat important for dancers? In my perception too many beginning dancers keep to strictly to the beat. A pause, a ritardando, a rhythm change, and they are lost instantly. My advice would be to dance the melody or first voice, instead of creating an own internal metronome in the head that alway will conflict with the heard one.

    My experience was more from playing bandoneon so it helped me keep the right rhythm. There are definitely alot of times in tango where the melody doesn't fit the beat strictly. From my practice i found the underlying beat is there though and mostly in time. Which is what i use the metronome for in my practice. Admittedly I'm only beginning to dance so your observation would be 100% correct in my case. I saw the forum and hoped dancers may like it too, but wasn't sure. Sounds like good advice though for learning to dance, i'll keep this in mind as I'm learning.

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