In 1976 a Brazilian student, Maria Paralta, in the first theory class I taught did much to convince me that most, if not all music can be heard and thought of as a form of dance. She acquainted me with Brazilian tango and made a strong case for Brahms as a “tangoist.” These four tangos were composed in response to Maria’s teaching. “Prelude” is perhaps the most distant from real tango since it is in 5/8 meter, yet I feel a “tango” atmosphere in it. “Attenuated Tango” dances around the obvious beat patterns. I envision a solo tango dancer doing a classical tango with sharp moves and steps which articulate the traditional rhythmic patterns around which the music is heard. “Dream Tango” is a scene of suspended dancing in which the syncopated beat patterns expand the length of the phrases. Phrases shift among patterns of 3, 5, and 7 within the understood “common time.” The expression is both tender and mystical. “March Tango” is heavy-footed, perhaps a tango danced in unison by many. It presents both sharp articulations and contrasting sustained lines as it moves spiritedly toward its obvious conclusion.
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