Well, I still like Tango and I still like electrotango / Nuevo tango. However, I have been out of the scene a good while, and listening more to various forms of jazzy lounge stuff, Christian music, piano blues and some classical piano. The piano is because I am thinking about learning to play piano. I invested in a Roland Rubix 22 MIDI box to connect my big mac to my wife’s rather good Casio keyboard. This lets me access the nice sounds that you can make in garage band from the keyboard, and paves the way to connect a serious electronic piano such as the Kawai ES8 – although the ES8 is fabulous as a standalone. I will eventually become the owner of a nice real acoustic upright Yamaha piano, but that may be some years away so if I do start serious lessons – I have a very good teacher lined up – I will need a full-size 88 key piano. The ES8 is one of the more expensive electronic pianos so I would rent it for the first 6 months to be sure I was progressing and it was really for me before buying it. You can rent to buy so all your rental comes off the price when you buy it.
Here are some video links about these items:
Meanwhile, I received an I-tunes voucher as a gift for Christmas from my lovely wife, and I stumbled across some electrotango that I had not heard before. As its from 2016 I realise how out of the scene I have been, so its not new music, but it is new to me, and its so good I want to share it. The album is called DJ Ralph von Richthoven – The Tango Club Night, Vol. 4, There is well over 5 hours of fabulous electrotango in it. Here’s a video and you can buy the album on I-tunes for UKP 9.99 in the UK.
Oh my. Last night I practiced C Maj scale and wrote out the positions of the notes on the staves. Today I downloaded and printed off “You Say” the Lauren Daigle hit. I very slowly and painfully figured out and learned and practiced the right and left hand, again and again until… oh wow I can actually, just about, play it. My fingers ache and it does that funny-I -can’t-describe-it-my-brain-hurts thing that your head does when it is learning a motor skill. It actually felt quite emotional, finally achieving something I have wanted to be able to do for many years (actually more than 5 decades).
The weirdest part is I did it in in just 2 days. When I finally got through it with reasonably fluidity and all the right notes it feel like I felt when I danced my very first tango properly and got it right. So I am feeling very encouraged. It is very very early days but I am thinking maybe I really might be able to do this piano thing – assuming my hands hold up. I’m hoping the aches gradually get less as I develop muscles I haven’t used. I’m struggling to program my brain to sight read the music and translate it into fingers on keys. I have not cracked that yet but I am thinking it will happen as I just keep at it. I am also struggling to make coordinated movements with my fingers to produce the rhythms I can hear in my head but note make the fingers do yet! Did I mention it is hard?
What I am not doing is using any modern electronic cheats or gimmicks. I am doing it absolutely the old-fashioned hard way, plain black and white manual keys and plain black and white notes on paper, because I want to be able to really do this. It is (at least) as hard as I expected but oh my it is also so very rewarding when another bit clicks into place and it starts happening properly.
I am applying all the learning theory that I was taught in Uni , taking breaks, doing bite sized chunks not too big or small, mixing theory and practice, repeating learning at the right intervals and so forth, as this has served me well with physical and mental learning many times in the past. Learning how to learn will save you time and having that skill is not a gimmick. The book I was taught to was called “The Good Study Guide” and it has been updated recently. You can read it for free at my alma mater (The OU) http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/_data/documents/helpcentre/good-study-guide.pdf
I have decided to have some piano lessons next year. I don’t yet have a full size electric piano but once I have checked with my piano teacher I will probably get a Kawai ES8. I want portability and as one day I will probably inherit a good Yamaha upright acoustic I don’t want to be buying an acoustic. We already have a nice Casio keyboard and I just bought a Roland Rubix22 box so it now can connect to the big Mac for GarageBand. So I can at least be practicing some basics to hit the ground running. The wee box is nicely held down by a heavy Anglepoise lamp, hidden away but definitely not going anywhere. So as not to drive anyone insane, I can run it all out to some B&O headphones, but using cable rather than Bluetooth as wireless gives a slight delay, whereas wire is instantly responsive.
There are two bands that oddly I had not encountered until just this week, both bands are good, but they are easily confused with each other. One is called Trio Grande and has an album called Quadro Nuevo (Remixed). The other is a band called Quadro Nuevo. Both are good. It’s not all strictly tango as it’s in the extended space that is tango nuevo, jazz, klezma, reggae and latin. It is lovely stuff and eminently danceable for a modern milongueoro/a. Here are some vids:
TRIO GRANDE up first
Some of the best tracks from Trio Grande’s album Quadro Nuevo (Remixed) are not out there in You Tube land, for instance the stunningly nice La Luna – so you just have to buy the album (available through the usual large online download retailer). I am a bit pleased by that – they deserve some actual sales for their lovely original contribution to the canon.
If you use a foreign proxy server to listen to your favorite internet radio station, chances are you will be served audio ads for the country the proxy is located in. So chose a country that you cannot understand the language of. That way you still get ads but they are in a language you can’t understand for products you never heard of, that you cannot buy. Hooray now it just sounds fun exotic instead of brainwash annoying.
Many years ago, simply because I lived near him I used to ocassionally bump into Phil Collins , Genesis prog rock drummer and subsequently a very good jazz artist. I didn’t then imagine however that I would have any connection with Peter Gabriel, also of the Genesis band. However, one of those music websites that ferrets out the strange connections with other people one has in musical taste has pointed me in his direction, and Lo! (little angel joke there) indeed there are some good connecty taste vibes with what Peter is doing.
Seems Mr Gabriel has a record label called Real World Records that is doing very interesting things. There are even old southern states black gospel things there, so the site really does seem to steer one to what will be liked.
If as I do, you miss the eclectic explorational mix of music that used to be presented by British Radio presenter John Peel, then the Soundcloud channel of Peter Gabriel’s record label Real World Records (<– click to go there), might help fill that void.
Those who know tango’s history, dance, culture and music will know why this music IS utterly and completely tango in many ways despite it not sounding much like what most people think is a tango. Piazzolla is tango’s greatest classical orchestra list, the flute is one of tango’s earliest instruments now seldom used in tango, and the tango owes something to flamenco too. Just enjoy, and if you can dance this, whatever kind of tango you do, then do!
The next video has some tango flamenco crossover, but is more here to show some very well-danced classic tango because it is beautiful to do or just watch.
For international jazz day I’d like to introduce you to a style of music called Walking Rhythm Spirituals acapella and a group from a long time ago, the Pilgrim Travellers who invented it. This is soooooooo funky! The saying goes that the devil doesn’t have all the best tunes, well Amen to that. These guys swing and sing for The King! The music might be from the 30’s and 40’s, but it feels fresh and alive.