We danced a super nice tanda and she was complimenting me and how I evolved in my dancing. I returned the compliments since she has also evolved quite a lot since we both started dancing… and then she says… “Yes… this D’Arienzo Tanda was super!”… and I respond… “Actually… it was Di Sarli… but you are right… it sounds like D’Arienzo”. Now, one would wonder… how on earth Di Sarli… el senor del Tango… can sound so rhythmic, powerful, and energetic as D’Arienzo?
I think before diving into orchestras and looking into their characteristics history and so on, there is a much more important distinction that we often neglect. That is the different periods of tango. As already written in the past Tango evolved much like a human being. It started with a sense of innocence, childness, and playfulness, (almost until 1935) then it grew up into an angry teenager (until 1942) and then transformed into a full-fledged sensitive emotional adult. The orchestras that traveled through these periods were heavily influenced by the trends of each period. In some cases (like the second period) some orchestras (like D’Arienzo) were pioneers and everyone wanted to sound like them to be in vogue. So every other orchestra at this period seems to sound like D’Arienzo.
I think this distinction between periods of Tango is a much more important and fundamental one than the actual distinction of orchestras because it very much dictates the way we should adapt our dance. Each period and therefore style of music has its own characteristic way of dancing, and today, due to the dominance of salon style, we tend to dance to everything in the same way. However, if we managed to adapt based on the period the impact on our dance can be really huge.
Now… what else could accompany this Goodnight Tango post except one of the Di Sarli songs that sounds like D’Arienzo?
PS. If you want to really dive into the music of tango and its distinction by periods this video is really helpful as an introduction and if you want to dive even further into the music of each different year, there is no better resource than the tango by year repository.