Keith Elshaw's Tango Weblog Since 1997 |
The Ultimate Tango Collection
ToTANGO Restorations Version 5
ToTango Restorations Project delivers high definition Tango for DJ's,
collectors and audiophiles.
New people find Argentine Tango all the time - which of course means that new djs start-up all the time. From reading the discussion groups, you see that the same questions occur to everyone. Some of the same issues I addressed when I started the ToTANGO Restoration Project 11 years ago.
- Why does the speed of recordings vary and which versions are correct?
- How do you eliminate the "silence" at the end of tracks so the flow is better?
- How do you get the levels of all the songs equal?
Ascertaining if a misguided record company worker-bee has altered the speed of recordings from the original can be simply made by checking the pitch (a little more complicated than that because of the tuning of the bandoneon - but you get the idea). If it is sped-up, the pitch is too high for the key. The beautiful dance pocket intended by the orquesta arranger is lost because it is faster to move to. Yuck. I've corrected everything that has been messed with.
On the discussion groups, it is easy to find answers to the second question: program this or that program this or that way to get the desired effect or just get an editor and clip all your files. Simple!
Levelling most people will basically do by reaching over and adjusting the fader on the fly. Or trusting limiters to do the job. (Not a good idea).
I fixed all this years ago so thse issues never come up.
The Story about ToTANGO 5 with audio samples
ToTANGO RESTORATION PROJECT - Order Page
Hi Keith --
The hard drive arrived today. Let me just say: that is a lot of music! I am totally thrilled and can't wait to spend the next few months listening to
Well, I really learned the value of your work.
thanks again! truly. thanks.
Perhaps you are not aware, but you are a reference point to many of us, an icon and
an inspirational force regarding tango, tango music, sound engineering and
collection. I started my DJ four years ago reading your website and using
music from ToTango CDs bought from you.
I always view your website which, in fact, is one of the first places I go if I want
to know something about tango music.
Thank you very much.
Best regards, Jason
Sorry for not replying you earlier... but... I wanted to listen to the
whole collection first, and now I can definitely say that it is truly
AMAZING! The work you have done, and the care you've taken to preserve the
quality of the records (especially the fact that you kept all the "groove
noise", which is easily dealt with by a simplest equalizer to DJ's personal
taste, instead of destroying the higher frequency range in the record
itself) is simply OUTSTANDING. Thank you very-very-very much!
Happy New Year,
I have had some time to listen to your remasters:
1. The improvements are noticeable on all tracks from subtle improvements in clarity
(eg Di Sarli) to massive improvements eg in some of the older Donato tracks and
OTV which were very muddy in my versions
2. Your judgement in balancing cleaning up whilst retaining the character of the
piece was spot on in my opinion
3. The songs you chose for the DJ selection included all my old favourites plus a
few new favourites - I like to have tango parties at my house - do you have
available milonga playlists made of selections from these songs ?
4. Your version of Di Sarli - Nido Gaucho is not one that I had instead I have
included the one I have. I like this version a lot and would like the remastered
version if it ever becomes available
5. I will be listening to this music for many years to come and the work you put
into remastering is much appreciated and certainly well worth the cost. You are to
be commended for undertaking this work.
And at the risk of being cheeky, I include this note from anonymous. As with when I get requests as a dj, I feel that if one person says it, there are likely more who feel the same way ...
I understand that for you the more people buy and use your V5 collection the better.
For me however, I consider it a well-kept trade secret. You can definitely consider
that as the best possible compliment, but one that I don't like to share publicly on
your website. I hope you don't mind.
Many thanks Keith... I'm already very happy! Smiling like a child when I played
your restored version of Canato's Poema just now. I played my wife your restored
version of Biagi's Recodo alongside the version already in my collection. She
immediatly spotted the difference, even though I'd not told her what to expect.
Great work... I'll be back!
Your music is GREAT!
I wanted to listen carefully on a good system before replying. Listened to it
yesterday (a public holiday) on the big system.
What can I say? It's so ....all there.
Thanks so much,
Thank you Keith,
It was great meeting the great man. I like your honesty. This honesty irradiates
from your music and I take it to another(not higher) level when I use it in my
little milonga. People flock to my tangosalon because the news spreads. I have a
nice hostess and I am the Maitre de Musique who like a chef uses the best
ingredients. Sometimes they come up to me and they ask me: where did you get that!
Its yours but I keep my mouth shut. I want to be God in my own right.
The music has arrived, and it's wonderful; it's like hearing
some of the familiar tracks as if for the first time. This is
a considerable achievement; well done.
With our new 'surround sound' system, we will make
quite an impact in our Milongas.
With best wishes,
Revering Juan "Pacho" Maglio
As an old sea-dog of a dancer/teacher/dj, I'm constantly on the outlook for folks who haven't yet experienced the swoon Juan Maglio (1880-1934) puts his dancers in.
And like everything else tango, the more you surrender, the more fantastic the trance.
It is a rare night indeed if Keith the dj doesn't play Maglio. He's too beautiful, too important - because there was no one better. As-good-as, depending on one's point of view - but not "better-than." He made so many unbelievably great recordings. In them today, you can still feel the waves of excitement rolling out from his imagination and fingers to all the other musicians and band leaders and then to the dancers.
In my professional life, I've always used this measuring device when considering relative contributions of artists: if you took this individual away from the history of the genre, what would you lose?
There is always your answer. Some artists are just more deserving of reverence than others in the long-run. My own personal list of who I consider to be a god of tango music is just that: a list. There is a top-tier. Where I see Pacho.
In the modern era of tango recordings (roughly 1923 onwards), most roads lead to Pacho in a very real sense. For me, a majestic god on the dias. Loving watching dancers in love with tango almost at his feet.
One imagines him to be the kind of person who would shush, shush any such talk. He was a simple musican who lead a very, very good band, I'm sure he would say. He came from a generation of impossibly gifted musicans and none of them would claim to be #1. There is no such thing, of course.
But perish the thought of ever taking away the music of Juan Maglio. He just made so much possible. And still does.
Regarding My Periodic "Crusades" Within a Crusade
NOT Me in the Picture! (But I do ice-skate)
Does it show an unforgiveable flaw in my character that I go on crusades from time to time?
The onset of one does tend to happen at this time of year. Dead of winter in Canada. Me locking-out the world and the weather and losing myself in tango restoration (where my heart finds it nice and warm).
It's a little mixed-up, looking back, whether my first crusade was about Di Sarli or Biagi or Donato. I was obsessed by them as I started my quest. Indeed - they were my main initial motivation.
In terms of profile, Di Sarli didn't "need" "my help"(!) as much as Eduardo or Rodolfo when I started more than 10 years ago. (In terms of audio quality of Carlos' recordings, I don't expect to ever be done with it to my satisfaction).
The quality of the recordings in tango sucked the big one. The moment I said to myself, "Well - can I do anything about that?" - all my next nights went sleepless.
I tackled Di Sarli and was very upset and discouraged. This was going to take a looong time.
Turning then to Biagi, I was rewarded way beyond expectations. Cleaning it my tedious way of re-drawing the waveforms by hand shocked me to my roots. Drove me crazy. Set me on a crusade to have people REALLY HEAR his music.
Those winter weeks of doing nothing but frying my brain by restoring Biagi's catalogue will always remain with me as seminal moments of my life. Here the possibilities of tango restoration made themselves known to me.
And I got too excited and tried too hard. It was only later when I had more experience and better tools that I could re-do Biagi's catalogue to my satisfaction.
Of course, that's the story of my journey. I had to start back then so I could grow and the technology could grow (did it ever) so my goals could be ever closer.
Then I did Donato. (While still pulling my hair out over Di Sarli).
But I'm not talking about my project here. The topic is my crusades.
The Donato campaign after restoration was simple and immediately gratifying. Make people listen to Ella Es Asi a few times. Success. Then, La Melodia del Corazon; Sinsabor; Con Tus Besos; Papas Calientes; El Lengue and the rest of the great catalogue.
It used to be rare that you would be played Donato in a milonga. Before 2003.
The Biagi crusade was more frustrating.
Donato hadn't been heard - so it was all new and exciting to people. Conversely, everybody had heard Biagi's scratchy, thin records hiding the subtlety and they had decided they didn't like him. They also didn't know that Biagi is the major reason anybody ever heard of D'Arienzo. All difficult to overcome in a hurry. But I would swear that my Biagi campaign had positive results in terms of how much he is played now.
So, what happened to my Di Sarli crusade(s)?
On the face of it, it's pretty challenging to expand people's awareness about one of the most (almost) over-exposed artists.
So I LOVE blowing people's minds with the Di Sarli they never hear; that is WAY under-appreciated.
The unbelievably sublime Pedro Laurenz music was next. I still can't understand why he isn't played more, but as soon as people fall knowlegabely in love with tango tango, they can't live without Laurenz.
Oboy. Let's stop here because we're getting into a list.
I've often wondered if there is anyone on Earth who has listened to the old recordings as much as I have. I was crazy for hearing it all the time BEFORE I started my restoration quest. I wanted to be a tango dancer, so that's why I listened to the music so much for the first 10 years. But my background was as a radio programmer - which meant my way was to have the biggest library and know all the music. Then dig to find more. And more.
I didn't start out thinking there was something I could contribute. If I have, it grew naturally out of just loving the music to death and eventually saying, Well, no one else seems to want to fix the problems, so what can I do about them?
A decade later, having worked and searched and collected and worked and bought continual upgrades of tools and source material and collected more and worked on every song more ... WHEW! I bow even lower in respect and supplication to the great musicians who gave us tango tango.
They unlocked and translated many secrets of Life and the Universe. So it's timeless. It grows more beloved and more profound every day until the Last Day - when it lets you smile as you breathe your last. How it seems to me.
When or if we aren't able to dance anymore, we'll still get the sweet blessings just by listening. And if our hearing leaves us, we'll still have it richly playing in our head. And be dancing in our heart.
My work in particular for the last four years has been to restore the recordings from 1926 onwards. I find the older recordings more compelling. Free, loose and inventive. Sexy. Certainly heavenly.
To quote William Blake: "The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest."
I'm always listening for good music coming out now. But there is no way to improve upon Canaro, Carabelli, Maglio, Aieta, Donato, OTV. Unless you are Biagi or Pugliese or Di Sarli or Laurenz, etc. (not to be construed as meant to be the whole lists).
The Gems just keep-on comin' when you restore the old recordings.
The better your ears (and the quality of your recordings), the more there is to hear.
Looking at Poema Being Danced
Neat contast in styles
'Came across this page - which shows a few dances to Canaro's Poema - by different couples.
Aside from the general interest, it ought to be inspiring to lovers of Nuevo who haven't yet found a way to dance social tango in a close way when there are many dancers on the floor. Some lovely dancing by professionals here.
(Disclosure: I didn't know I was being quoted. I saw this page when doing a "Poema" google).
Audio Interview with Ignacio Varchausky
Today's Pre-eminent Tango producer/leader
One of the people I personally admire most in the tango world of today is this gifted young bassist/producer.
Named Artist of the Decade by the city of Buenos Aires, Ignacio's ever-growing body of work has and is giving new life to tango-tango culture.
Founder of El Arranque and Escuela De Tango, producer of those and Nestor Marconi, Horacio Salgan, Vale Tango among others, Ignacio has been making the best modern recordings of tango music.
Ignacio Varchausky is also the founder of TangoVia Buenos Aires, a non profit organization, which aims to preserve, spread and develop tango culture throughout the world. He has launched the Tango Digital Archive Project to save the 100,000 tango recordings extant before they are lost or destroyed.
I booked a Skype session with Ignacio on October 27, 2009 to ask him to speak about all these projects and to ask him how tango lovers around the world can help with the archival project. Here it is in 3 parts.
El Arranque; Emilio Balcarce and Pugliese; La Yumba; the research hows; the sheet orchestrations
The gems; Ignacio Corsini; rare test-pressings and movie soundtracks; Troilo singing; rare Salgan solo recordings; Alfredo Gobbi acetates; newly discovered great compositions; sources and restoring; whole discographies
How to help; tax-deductible donations; how Ignacio views the world tango community
Very Cool Treats
Audio tours of interesting things
In simply putting on the music of the restoration collection and letting it run, so many sublime moments fill the air.
We're going to do a few little audio programs flying through some of those moments.
First up: Julio De Caro Orquestas
(Sounds starts with page load)
If near to Montréal ...
My semi-private classes are about to resume after summer break.
I call them semi-private because I keep the group small - while giving the kind of attention and information one gets in a private class. For a lot less money, of course.
I show how to be and how to move and when (with the music) - as opposed to how to "do things."
I also say, I'm not calling myself a "teacher" and giving you a "class." I think of it as coaching - addressing personal needs. In as close-to a milonga situation as can be, given the purpose. It's more of an indoctrination into the tango world than a standard, "Learn these steps" class.
A new client asked me to put this on my webpage:
"Too many bad teachers out there. Without teaching me or telling me, you
prepared me for the lesson. I learnt it on my own. Which is why you are
the best teacher anyone can have. Except of course you're not a teacher. You
are Tango Tango!"
Montreal - Birthplace Of The Record
You can imagine that I love to tell this story ...
On Behalf of the Singers
Before Gardel, There Was Caruso
Who new to tango hasn't sought ought instrumentals first so they didn't have to listen to the "annoying" singers? Of all the aspects of tango requiring acquired taste, the singers take the most getting used to - to a non-Latin, non older-person ear.
For the first 30 or 40 years of tango, there were no singers. They kind of had to fight their way in. The one who really kicked the door down, of course, was Carlos Gardel. His was tango's biggest "before-and-after" moment.
Conscious / Unconscious
Different Approaches to Tango
If you're thinking, your partner has to be thinking, too.
If you're lost in the music, the feelings, the moment, you're partner can be, too.
In such a state, tango takes over.
When you "direct" it yourself, it plays hide-and-seek with you.
It's all tango; but when your brain is "off," the pleasure and satisfaction increases in proportion to your surrender.
This is why my way of teaching is to make the body memory work; to make things as automatic as possible in order that spontaneous expression comes out effortlessly.
I like to show how to hold the body; how it should move with your partner. How it signals to keep everything together. All so that the mind can be sort-of shut-off. Seeking unconscious competence.
The less "thinking" the better.
Tandas - So Cool
As a programmer and as a dancer, the Tanda custom in Argentine Tango seems to me to be such a cool invention.
What are it's origins? Sergio Vandekier explains from Mar Del Plata:
The Destruction of RCA's Masters
And now - the Details
When RCA destroyed it's Masters of tango recordings 40 years ago, a major reason for our Restoration Project took place.
Tango Styles and Attitudes
Peter Bengtson's Tango Style table is humourous - and/but full of insight ... a kind of mirror in many respects. Do you see yourself in it?
The Tango Trance
Seek it, and it will elude you;
Talk about it in too much detail
and it will haunt you evily.
Live for it, and you will die many deaths.
Treasure it, but don't hold onto it.
Dance with love and freedom
and it will embrace you.
Be vulnerable, and feel it's power.
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