Tango Musicality for Ceroc-ers Six: 3-3-2

27th September 2010

Part of a series of articles on Tango Musicality.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four - Milonga | Part Five - Vals


[After fixing the flashing Christmas tree light bulbs, Ted asks Dougal if they're working]
"Yes! Wait, No. Ah, Yes. No. Yes. No"~ Fr Ted

I had a remarkably similar experience downstairs at Negracha. Libertango by Piazolla was playing. I was dancing with a normal tango simple time. Yet if you'd asked me if I was in sync with the music my answer would have been pretty much the same as Dougal's.

It turns out that Piazolla was fond of something called a 3-3-2 rhythm.

Ignore the maths

"Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly" ~ Baz Lurhman

I've noticed an interesting problem when people try and explain milonga and 3-3-2 rhythms mathematically - virtually no-one understands them! In fact people often end up convinced it's something completely different.

However if you play them the rhythm and ask them to say it out loud, other than a few false starts, mainly due to worrying about looking foolish, people get it really quickly. So in that spirit there will be no maths.

So what is it?

Have a look here:

Go to 30 secs. Ignore what Yo-yo Ma is playing, beautiful as it is. What you're left with is bom, ba-ba.

That's it. My advice is just listen to Libertango and practice walking to this rhythm. Then try dancing how you normally dance but to this rhythm.

Once you're happy here's a test

(The answer is the change happens at 2.21)

The Catch

"A catcher must want to catch. He must make up his mind that it isn't the terrible job it is painted, and that he isn't going to say every day, 'Why, oh why with so many other positions in baseball did I take up this one.' " ~ Bill Dickey

(There had to be one, right?)

Although Piazolla likes the 3-3-2 rhythm, in traditional tangos when it shows up, unless you know the song, it'll probably have finished before you've had time to react, similar to traspies in tango.

Likewise a lot of milongas don't really play Piazolla.

On the other hand, if you are dance to Nuevo, I'd recommend it; so the next time it feels like you're skipping in and out of sync to the music, you'll have a good idea what the problem and solution might be.

 - Christopher O' Shea, 27th September 2010

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