The Evolution of Tango Music

Contemporary Tango Music

Tango is a complex musical style that originated out of the fusion of cultures in the Rio de la Plata region. Read more about its defining characteristics and the fascinating history of this multidimensional art form.

Most tango dancers prefer traditional music from the Golden Age of tango orchestras played exclusively on acoustic instruments. The following CD’s contain such music.

Early Tango

In the early 20th century Tango was refined to a smooth elegance, and a classy salon style was established with orchestras including violins, flutes and two Bandoneons. During this time a great number of musicians, dancers and lyricists became famous in Argentina and abroad. Gardel set the melancholy tone for tango songs, while other writers, like Fresedo and De Caro, developed the complex figures of the dance.

In addition, a new generation of music took the Tango into new paths. Musicians such as Piazzolla, Pugliese and Anibal Troilo paved the way for the modern tango.

However, during the Depression and the overthrow of the Argentinian government in 1940, the Tango fell out of favour. It was revived a few years later by the charismatic Juan Peron, who made tango a national symbol. It lost popularity again in the 1960s and 1970s with the emergence of American rock-and-roll. It has been rediscovered in recent decades by younger generations and is undergoing an extraordinary renaissance.


Gardel’s music reflects like few other Argentine musical expressions the fusion of the natives and the immigrants. Born in France and nationalized Argentine, Gardel’s tango is “an eclectic music that includes Argentine folkloric elements, but also Habanera, Andalusian and Italian music.”

His expressive baritone voice and flair for melodramatic heartbreak ballads established the meaningful and emotional side of the genre. His taste for a refined lifestyle with stylish habits, etiquette and clothes made him the ideal model to follow for numerous men from humble origins who saw in him their symbol of social success.

In a time when social integration was still a problem, Gardel managed to break down barriers between people and nations with the universal appeal of his lyrics. In his songs, people found common themes such as their neighborhood’s warmth and identity, cabaret, love (either the story of a lost mother or romantic frustration), masculinity and solitude. His legacy continues to this day, as tango remains one of the most popular forms of world popular music.

De Caro

De Caro was also a prolific producer, arranging dozens of top hits in the ’70s. He produced and arranged six albums for Claudine Longet, four for Chris Montez, six for the Sandpipers, and the Baja Marimba Band, among others.

His work in folklore was equally prolific. His 1998 book, Louisiana Sojourns: Travelers’ Tales and Literary Journeys, co-edited with Rosan Jordan, was published by LSU Press.

The late Nick DeCaro was a gentleman and a music giant, beloved by many musicians and his family. He will never be forgotten. The De Caro family would like to thank all the music friends around the world for their support during this difficult time. They ask that they please continue to celebrate his life and legacy. Nick was the greatest arranger, musician and singer that this world has ever known. His melodies will live on forever. We love you, dear Nick.


Often called tango nuevo, alternatively neotango, new tango or modern tango, this style is a more externalised and maximised dance. It allows more complex figures to be executed for the enjoyment of the dancers and audience.

This style is largely driven by a fusion of tango music and electronic music (electrotango) or by traditional tango songs arranged with a contemporary flavour. Groups such as Gotan Project, Bajofondo Tango Club and Tanghetto have all contributed to a re-invigoration of tango music and appeal to a younger generation of dancers.

The embrace is a closed, semi-closed in a V or open, with the woman positioned towards the man’s right side. The lead is based on the man’s whole body and uses a long step well inside the lady’s space, very similar to modern ballroom dances such as foxtrot, quickstep and waltz. This style requires more precise timing and balance to execute elegant decorations. It is not a ‘fluff’ dance!

Return to the home screen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *