Book Review: Find the Music You Love : Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango

Published June 17th 2020
Author: Chris

Title: Find the Music You Love: Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango Book 9

Author: Oliver Kent

Pages: 138

Published: June 2020

ISBN: 979-8650850069

Link to Amazon

Oliver Kent is back with his 9th installment of his Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango Series. As with the previous 4 additions of his this one covers tango music, however, this one has less emphasis on dancing. It is difficult to summarise this book concisely and say what it is for, but it is not to say it isn’t unusual or interesting.

The author starts this 138 page, 9 chapter book with a look at the evolution of tango music. This book is not an in-depth history of music, in fact totally skips the very early tango music and bands, and instead focuses on music that you would come across in milongas and tango music staring with the Guardia Vieja era of the early 1900s before moving in to the “Golden Age” from the 30s to 50s and finishing with Nuevo music including the work of Piazzolla to Gotan Project. The book gives a brief explanation of each of these eras and how the music developed and what are the general trends you will hear.

The book then moves on to other music that you might come across in tango events including Chacerera, Candombe, Foxtrot, Alternative and Fusion with a few ideas about dancing tango to any type of music. This is followed by a couple of chapters that cover Traditional Orchestras including Canaro, D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, Orquesta Tipica Victor and many others and how to recognise them and their signature endings. This book does not go into much detail about the history of each orchestra but does give you an introduction from which, if you choose, will provide a base for you to do some further research. This section concludes with some examples of nuevo orchestras which the author thinks will be a good introduction if you want to get into this type of Tango music.

The chapter I was most interested in reading was Chapter 6 on How to Dance to Different Orchestras. This is a topic you see fairly often in workshops and for me it is an oddity as I think as a dancer you dance to the piece of music and it does not matter who wrote it or who played it, as surely they must have developed over time? So I was interested to see how Oliver Kent approached the topic. He does so very well explain that these workshops are more to get the attendees to expand their dancing dynamics when they hear different things in the music and gives a number of example exercises. This chapter also covers how tandas can be arranged which act as a good introduction to what comes later in the book.

The book then takes a bit of an odd turn with a Chapter on Vals. Vals is mentioned in the previous chapter when the author talks about tanda construction however considering the previous book is dedicated to dancing milonga, it seems odd that Vals only has one chapter.

The book then gets back on track with the final two chapters on DJing, and ‘How to be become a DJ’ is useful reading for anyone wanting to take the plunge, including the responsibilities that DJs have at an event that many of those who attend Tango events do not consider. Of particular to everyone is DJ etiquette and when you should approach a DJ. Something that I feel was missing was how a DJ should interact with people asking for requests.

As with all Oliver Kent’s books in the Filling in the Black of Argentine Tango Series this is very easy to read. There are lots of suggested tracks from each orchestra and composer to listen to which helps the reader understand the author’s point. Where dance exercises are suggested visuals are presented, courtesy of Oscar B. Frise, and once again the book is full of quotes that will get you thinking and make you laugh.

This book covers a lot of bases and is definitely worth reading if you want to learn about tango music or are interested in types of tango music, orchestras and composers. As this book is short don’t expect it to go in huge amounts of details but what is included will be of great use to causal tango dancers who want to expand their knowledge around the dance.

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