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History of Argentine Tango Music & Dance

There is No Truth to be found in Tango

The tango can be debated, and we have debates over it, but it still encloses, as does all that which is truthful, a secret. - Jorge Luis Borges

Tango did what it pleased with us and it led us and misled us and it ordered us and found us again - Jorge Luis Borges

With this section of the website, my goal is to help educate students and tango enthusiasts about the history of tango music and dance. One thing to keep in mind when reading these articles is that there is much disagreement even amongst famous tango historians. The periods of progression are very loosely defined and of course musicians of one style or period kept playing well into the next so the lines are always blurred. There are even discrepencies over who wrote which songs. People cannot even agree on the origins of the word, "tango." So, what follows is my best effort, at the moment to make sense of it all.

I have been studying Argentine Tango music and dance since 2003 and have amassed a substantial collection of over 6,000 Tango songs, 600+ Vals and 500+ Milongas including CDs, Vinyl LPs and 78s. This is still just a fraction of the Tango music that is out there. It is estimated that there are over 40,000 tango recordings.

This site will primarily focus on music for dancing from the early days of tango, through the Golden Age (1935 to 1955) and today's modern music. One thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of tango music is not for dancing. In Buenos Aires, most everyone listens to tango but only a very small percentage of the population dances. 

  • A Brief History of Argentine Tango
    The concept of this performance is to show a progression of Argentine Tango from its early days up to today, demonstrating different rhythms, embraces and styles. We also tried to work in the 4 primary orchestras of tango D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, Troilo and Pugliese.??
  • The Structure of Argentine Tango Music
    My goal here is to provide a well-rounded explanation of the structure of Argentine Tango music, with a focus on the dancer. I am dealing here with tango music that is meant for dancing, starting in the mid-1920s.
  • Tango Orchestra Biographies
    History of the Argentine Tango Orchestras.
  • Guardia Vieja I: 1895 to 1910
    The History of Argentine Tango: The first generation of tango musicians are commonly referred to as "La Guardia Vieja" (The Old Guard). The first Period of "La Guardia Vieja" lasted from approximately 1895 to 1910.
  • Guardia Vieja II: 1910 to 1925
    The History of Argentine Tango: The second part of the Guardia Vieja period lasted from approximately 1910 to 1935.
  • Guardia Nueva: 1925 to 1935
    History of Argentine Tango: "La Guardia Nueva" (The New Guard) period lasted from approximately 1925 to 1935. The new musicians developing during this period would be known as "The 1925 Generation."
  • The Golden Age of Argentine Tango: 1935 to 1955
    The History of Argentine Tango: The "Golden Age of Tango" is generally accepted as being from 1935 to 1955. Most of the music played at milongas are from the Golden Age.
  • Early Tango Pictures & Illustrations
    Here are some images that I have collected over the years of Argentine Tango dance.
  • Tango History Links
    Here are some great sites on the History of Tango.