Music for Dancers New to Argentine Tango

by Stephen and Susan Brown

Carlos Di SarliA guide to the recordings best-suited for dancers first learning to hear the rhythm of Argentine tango music.

The Recordings
Where to Buy


Outside of Argentina, most people do not grow up hearing tango music. Consequently, many beginning dancers face the challenge of finding music that is useful for learning to hear and move to the beat of tango. Many instructors recommend beginning with the music of the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra, and we consider that a good recommendation.

We think, however, that the beginning dancer will do better by listening and moving to the tangos on Francisco Canaro's La Melodia de Nuestro Adios and Miguel Caló's Yo Soy el Tango before moving onto Di Sarli. The tangos on these two CDs are among the very best for learning the walking rhythm of tango because they have a clear and simple beat that is stronger and closer to a walking tempo than that found on Di Sarli recordings. We recommend working with the tangos on the Canaro CD first because they are somewhat slower in tempo than those on the Caló CD.

After learning to move to the tangos on the two Canaro and Caló CDs, many beginning dancers are ready to listen and move to the instrumental tangos of Carlos Di Sarli.  The best available Di Sarli CD is Solo Tango: Instrumental Vol. 1. The tangos on this CD have a clear and simple walking beat for dancing. The BMG-RCA release RCA Victor 100 Años is nearly as good.  The Tango Argentino release Instrumental is a good third choice.  For those wishing to add a vocal dimension to Di Sarli, the CD Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1 with singer Roberto Rufino is an outstanding choice.

After learning to move to Di Sarli, the beginning dancer is ready to move onto D'Arienzo, Troilo and Tanturi/Castillo. To learn to hear and move to the 2x4 rhythms of D'Arienzo, either El Rey del Compas, Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 1, or Sus Primeros Exitos vol. 2 would be a good choice. For Anibal Troilo, the CDs Instrumental (Tango Argentino) and Troilo/Fiorentino (Solo Tango) are the best choices. Much of the best material from these two CDs can be found on the more widely available El Inmortal Pichuco (El Bandoneon) but at much lower fidelity. For the Ricardo Tanturi orchestra with vocalist Alberto Castillo, the Solo Tango release, Tanturi/Castillo is a great choice. The Tanturi/Castillo CDs, Tangos de mi Ciudad and El Tango es el Tango are also quite good.

The next challenge is to move onto the music of De Angelis, Pugliese and Biagi. The music of Alfredo De Angelis provides a good bridge from Di Sarli to Pugliese because the De Angelis orchestra played solid dance music that has a feel between the smoothness of Di Sarli and the drama of Pugliese. For Alfredo De Angelis, either From Argentina to the World or Instrumentales Inolvidables would be a good choice.

For a dancer moving onto the more challenging rhythms of Pugliese, the CD Ausencia captures dance classics from both early and later in his career, showing his transition from more solid dance rhythms to the more challenging, but wonderfully compelling La Yumba beat.  The CD Instrumentales Inolvidables is a good second choice.

Rodolfo Biagi—who was a pianist in the first Juan D'Arienzo Orchestra—took D'Arienzo's direction of playing in a 2x4 rhythm but added striking rhythmic elements of his own. Dancers who are comfortable with D'Arienzo's music are ready to tackle Biagi’s music. For those first listening and moving to Biagi, good choices are Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez (EMI Reliquias) and the somewhat lower fidelity Campo Afuera (El Bandoneon).

bandoneon - back to top

The Recordings

  1. Francisco Canaro
        La Melodia de Nuestro Adios  (El Bandoneon)
        Las Grandes Orquestas del Tango  (Blue Moon)
  2. Miguel Caló
        Yo Soy el Tango  (El Bandoneon)
  3. Carlos Di Sarli
        Instrumental Vol. 1  (Solo Tango)
        RCA Victor 100 Años  (BMG-RCA)
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
  4. Carlos Di Sarli with Roberto Rufino
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol.1  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
  5. Juan D'Arienzo
        El Rey del Compas  (El Bandoneon)
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 1  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
        Sus Primeros Exitos, vol. 2  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
  6. Anibal Troilo
        Instrumental  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
        Troilo/Fiorentino  (Solo Tango BMG-RCA)
        El Inmortal Pichuco  (El Bandoneon EBCD 1)
  7. Ricardo Tanturi con Alberto Castillo
        Tanturi/Castillo  (Solo Tango)
        Tangos de mi Ciudad  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
        El Tango es el Tango  (Tango Argentino BMG-RCA)
  8. Alfredo De Angelis
        From Argentina to the World  (EMI)
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias)
  9. Osvaldo Pugliese
        Ausencia  (EMI Odeon # 8 35886 2)
        Instrumentales Inolvidables  (EMI Reliquias)
10. Rodolfo Biagi
        Sus Exitos con Falgas y Ibanez  (EMI Reliquias)
        Campo Afuera  (El Bandoneon 40) >


Some of the best Tango Composers according to

If NOT played at a Milonga, they would definitely be missed.
Profound influence on Tango culture flowing from their body of work.
Uniquely identifiable sound, style and legacy.
Near universal acceptance and appeal to dancers .
There can only be 8 orchestras in the Big 8!

ToTANGO "Big 8" Leaders' Pages:

 Osvaldo Pugliese
Daring, inventive, inspirational, perennial.
The best dancers crave him.

 Carlos Di Sarli
Unique, percussive, sexy, refined, classic.
Essential for teaching.

 Fransisco Canaro
Seminal, worldly, sophisticated, polished.
The Conqueror of Europe at a crucial time.

 Angel Vargas / Angel D'Agostino
Infectious, distinctive, felicitous.
An elegant pairing.

 Juan D'Arienzo
He filled the halls to fuel the Golden Era. King of Milonguero Style. Hardcore Lunfardo.

 Miguel Caló
Gloriously melodic and rhythmic.
Sublime dance material.

 Aníbal Troilo
Grand, prolific; exceptional bandoneonist.
Noble, poignant passion.

 Ricardo Tanturi
Anthemic, hot, passionate.
Great vocalists.

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