Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tango and Milonga

Over the past winter I wrote a pair of instrumental pieces to be performed with dance, and they were premiered live in March, with wonderful dancing. I have listened to and enjoyed tango for many years, although I had never written in the genre before this. The process of analyzing (yes, we do use that music theory we learned in music school, sometimes) and figuring out what I wanted to write was a long process, with several false starts and blind alleys explored before I reached that point where I often write my best music: the feel and style of the genre becomes internalized, and I write by following my ear rather than from an intellectual outline. Once I had done that, these two interlocked pieces appeared, one a fierce, fast tango, and the other a slow, inward but still darkly passionate milonga. Part of my loves the milonga form above all, because of its inwardness, its passion and melancholy, and the feel of a very late night after you have survived something dangerous, exhausted and sad but still glad to be alive.

When we premiered the tango and milonga live, with dance, I thought it went very well, and I got some good feedback about it. This is the kind of music I love to play, to accompany dancers. I've played a lot of live dance concert music, some of it improvised, over the years, and the excitement of live interaction never gets old. So everything went well. But we didn't get a very good recording, mostly due to my errors of mic placement; well, it was a new unfamiliar room to perform in, and I guessed wrong. So a few weeks later, we set up a living room recording live session, and made some good recordings of the music. These videos are from that session. The live music vibe is still there, I think, as we recorded live to two-track from the room sound, and I didn't try to over-produce or over-control the session. We just set everything up, turned it on, and played each piece several times till we felt we had played it well and made a good take. I edited that session down into these short music videos. I may at some point edit down the premiere performances, with the dancers; that will happen if I can get the audio to a place where I like it well enough to share. So stay tuned.

Tango of the Knife Fight:

Milonga of the Time of Leaves:

Daniel Atwater: Accordion
Brian Schultz: Piano
Arthur Durkee: Chapman Stick

Written, Produced & Engineered by Arthur Durkee. ©2014 AP Durkee. All Rights Reserved.

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