Canaro Tanda – January 14, 2021

Tango Mahi Practica – Tanda of the Week – Francisco Canaro Orquesta Tipica Instrumentals 1938-39

Francisco Canaro was born in 1988, grew up in a poor family with three younger brothers, fell in love with the violin and music as a teenager, built his own first violin from an oil can and a discarded violin finger board, and over time became one of the driving forces in the birth and development of tango music.

As a teen, he was among the first to play tango music, often playing with bandoneon prodigy Vincente Greco who was the same age and lived next door. The two began their professional careers performing as a duo and sometimes with other musicians in cafes around La Boca.

Canaro first conducted his own orquesta in 1914 (as a 26 year old) when he put together a larger than normal line-up of musicians to play at a student ball for which greater volume was required than could be generated by trios, quartets, etc, as there was no effective amplification technology at that time. The sizes of his orquestas peaked at 32 musicians when he was contracted to play at the 1921 carnival balls at the Teatro Opera of Buenos Aires. His orquestas were among the first to be accepted by the upper classes.

There are many interesting anecdotes about Canaro and his colourful life and career that I won’t even touch on for now, other than to say that through the 1920s and 1930s Canaro made a fortune composing and recording music, and leading his successful orquestas in Buenos Aires, Paris and around the world.

I have chosen three instrumental tango tracks for the “Tanda of the Week” by Canaro’s 1938 -39 orquesta, that feature trumpet, flute, clarinet and saxophone to complement the sounds of the normal instruments of a tango orquesta tipica. The songs were composed respectively by Francisco’s youngest brother, his second youngest brother and his next-door neighbour Vincente Greco.

If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the “different” layers of sound generated by this orquesta, a good place to start would be to listen out for the two single notes played on the clarinet through the first phrase of the first song.

The tracks are:
1939 “Quiero verte una vez mas” (composed by Francisco’s youngest brother Mario Canaro)
1938 “Fiebre” (composed by Francisco’s third brother Humberto Canaro)
1938 “Rodriguez Peña” (composed by Vincente Greco)

Check out this clip of Horacio Godoy (the head teacher at La Viruta in Palermo, Buenos Aires) and Cecila Berra performing a high energy demo dance in Moscow to “Rodriguez Pena”.