Music choice came up on AmpsterTango's blog and it got me thinking about which pieces of music I use for what - and how that's changed over time.
My first exposure to tango music was the Nuevo Tango of Piazzolla. It expressed things for me that at the time I had no outlet for. I didn't dance to it, though I saw others dance. It resonated with me. It reminded me of particular people and times.
Then I heard tango music on a few soundtracks and compilations that combined Piazzolla's music with more traditional pieces - like the soundtrack for "The Tango Lesson." It not only had beautiful Piazzolla music, but more traditional pieces by Carlos Gardel (Mi Buenos Aires Querido), Juan d'Arienzo (Flete), Osvaldo Pugliese (Zum). That soundtrack was played frequently at the store I worked in, and I loved it. It made me want to move - need to move. But I still didn't have the nerve to learn tango.
Early this year, or maybe late last year, I came across Gotan Project, which didn't appeal to me in the same way that traditional tango music did - or even nuevo tango - but it appealed to me on other levels, for other things. My inner code monkey liked the beat and the dance mix sound. That's the perfect music for when I need to be focused for extended periods of time.
So now I'm taking classes and going to milongas and hearing everything! I dance most easily to more traditional tango music - though some songs are too quick for my beginner feet. The tempo, the feel of the music, is made for moving. But I'm still a beginner, having basic beginner problems . . .
Slowin' my butt down...
When it comes time to actually practice (usually by myself) - I was finding that traditional tango music had so much going on in it that when I practiced sequences or ochos, I would move too fast. I was trying to do something to everything. I couldn't maintain my axis that way - I could feel the wobble coming through my turns and my posture was suffering. I needed something I could concentrate to and develop a little more precision in moves. Not moving in stiff, machine-like steps, but developing an awareness of where I was and how my posture was changing.
(EDIT: My proofreader (coworker) said I needed to explain this a bit more specifically, so I'll try. With ochos in particular, I was using momentum more and more to make the pivot, which pulls me off my center/axis - and if I were dancing with a partner and not practicing with a major appliance, it would force him to have to support me or even pull him off of his axis. When I slow down and pay closer attention to the "collecting" of my feet and ankles when I'm supposed to - it makes all the difference in the world to my balance and posture.)
And I needed to breathe. It's not just a dancing issue, but even listening to music, sometimes I get so wrapped up - I forget to breathe.
That's when Gotan Project got loaded back up into the player. Santa Maria - perfect tempo for practicing ochos with my oven. (And I like the cricket accompaniment. ) When I need to focus on slow movements and breathing especially - Paris, Texas is perfect. So I have several "sections" of tango music on my player that I listen to for different reasons. Plus I have several "completely non-tango" songs I love dancing tango too, like "Whatever Lola Wants" - which I also learned for belly dancing. Go figure.
So there you have it. I'm sure I'll change my mind about these selections after the next milonga when I hear something else that catches my attention.
A side note: If you're just really curious about the BeatsPerMinute of your favorite tango music, you can go here to learn more.