I listen to Tango music quite frequently, but there is a lot more that I enjoy hearing from the day to day. Yes I have playlists on my phone for many occasions when it comes to tango, and a couple USB drives devoted to it, but sometimes you just need something different. If you’ve ever heard me DJ for the Practica I run or every once in a while at the local Milonga, then you wouldn’t be surprised on some tunes I play for fun during a little alternative tanda. The range of the music varies greatly, and I find it fun to throw something new in the mix here and there.

Alternative Music?

I know many people don’t appreciate alternative music, it just doesn’t work for them, disrupts the flow, and many other reasons.  This isn’t really a post about the validity of it in Milongas or playlists, whichever way you lean, but realizing everyone has different and fun tastes. Yes, at a Tango Milonga, it should be almost all Tango. Even in Buenos Aires they play a set of swing music, Chacarera, or even Zamba once, at up to 50% of the events I attended over the 6 months I was there. They are played and danced with the particular style, but other than the Chacarera (rarely), you wont find them outside Argentina.

These other dances and music styles almost never helped with the flow, didn’t follow a pattern in the Milonga rotation, and could easily be considered disruptive. You could say it is part of their culture, which is completely true, so it has a place when you’re down there, but playing a swing set (old rock and roll mostly in Buenos Aires)or a Zamba set outside would almost be fought back against in most areas.

Photo from my LG G5 at Burning Tango 2017

This especially goes for the swing or rock and roll music being put into the middle of a set, so many people scoff at the idea of something other than just tradition tango being played and danced to at a Tango event. Everyone has their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing for either notion.  My notion is, if it fits within the flow, can be placed and have the feel of rhythm, then throwing in something “alternative” is fine. Most people will dance this “alternative” using the style and steps of tango, but of course many will say you aren’t dancing Tango because it is not Tango music. This also brings the discussion that Tango requires the Tango music, and anything not to Tango music can not be described as dancing Tango. That’s for a whole other discussion of what is in my mind.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

So when it comes to alternative, if I throw it in, there are usually things I consider.  I find some fun newer Waltz beat music in Korean, French, or other languages can fill in the Vals Tanda slot granted there are traditional Vals Tandas being played as well. This allows the same Milonga Tanda rotations, while bringing something new and fun, but still identifiable. Not always this is the case, but I try to keep things where they wouldn’t feel too out of place.

Finding New Music

Outside of Tango and Milongas I have found myself lacking in acquiring some music I feel can be danced to.  It is kind of how I feel when I listen to music now.  There are some great songs out there, but lack any patterns or try to be too different with bass drops and the like. When I hear a song, I almost try to find an acoustic version of it online somewhere, and if I’m lucky to be able to find a nice produced cover or mashup then even better, but those are harder to find.

Where do I find some new music? Most of the time it’s youtube, sometimes I’m able to hear something on pandora, but outside of that it becomes difficult for me. Especially difficult is finding songs that go together. It’s this aspect that I find the most difficult, as alternative tandas are much more difficult to group. I’ve yet to try Spotify much, but will be another place I go for some new music as it’s a bit easier to listen to albums from the same artist to maybe find the right song pairings.

Photo from my D5600 at Connect 2017

Acquiring the music is pretty easy, it’s just a matter on finding it. I hear most of the popular stuff on youtube or pandora, but there are many songs on an album that can usually be used for dancing more than the popular option.  My problem is, I don’t usually buy albums of music, and prefer single songs, and there are rarely any samples of the songs for me to hear beforehand if I don’t know it or not at all being offered. One of the reason I like traditional music, is it was made for dancing most of the time, and generating a tanda is much easier to pair the style of song, singer, decade or exact year, instruments, and more.  Good luck finding that with most other styles of music today.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

The best I usually do is match the singer if I can, if not then the language and sex of the vocalist, and find something that sounds similar enough. This can be quite difficult for anything within the past decade or two, as everyone wants to be unique and different. When working with different languages is even tougher, so I’m always looking for better sources of finding music.

So for finding music, I’m looking for suggestions, especially for something overseas in different languages.  Top 100 lists from different countries have a majority of music of most other nations, but then again the polling is more geared towards those demographics.  Where are some better sources for finding good local bands and music from different parts of the globe? How do you find your music? Let me know!