The butterfly effect

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Small changes

Have you seen the movie “The butterfly effect“? The idea of the story is that the main character finds a way to transfer himself to his past where he can change little details in some moments in his life in order to correct problems in his present. Of course when he returns back to the present things not always have gone as expected and the story evolves around this.

In a musicality class a few weeks ago we were practicing dancing melodies. More specifically on realizing that the melody usually is not synced with the rhythm that we seem to get instantly tuned in. Actually many orchestras (especially after 41) are starting the melody a little bit off the rhythm. It’s just a few milliseconds… a fraction of a second. It’s so subtle that we often don’t notice that we step on the rhythm and think we are stepping on the melody. After all, what difference can a few milliseconds in one step make?

Huge impact

Huge! Like the changes, the hero of the movie is experiencing in his life. They can really transform a song. The biggest proof is actually the butterfly itself. Yes! La Mariposa! Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is a two-in-one. First, listen to it in the version from D’Arienzo and then from Pugliese. You will notice right from the first few seconds that the melody (although the same) feels a lot different in Pugliese’s version. Why? The bandoneon which plays the melody strikes the first notes and most of the rest of the melody slightly after the BOOM you listen from the double bass (the rhythm). A slight difference… just a few milliseconds… and here you go… try to dance the melody on Pugliese’s version hitting every single note of the bandoneon (avoiding your impulse to step on the double base) and you’ll see the joy you will get when you make it! The sensation is just amazing! Imagine now hitting this with a partner on the dancefloor! For me, that would be enough to call it a night!

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

So here you go… the same song… the same melody… and just a tiny detail of a few milliseconds and you get a totally different piece altogether. A few milliseconds on your step and an enormous amount of satisfaction and joy when you make it plus a whole new sensation from the song. A friend described the difference between the two versions saying… “it’s like having 2 descriptions of the same person … but one is from the front and the other from the back!” Same person… so much different descriptions… so much different perceptions!

It is no wonder why Pedro Mafia (the composer of the song) said “This is not my Mariposa” when he heard the version of Pugliese.


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