Here are two treats for your ears.
Today I linked up two couples, friends of mine, who do not know each other but who will both be in Buenos Aires for the next couple of months. This reminder of one of the world’s great cities also reminded me of the tango. Before I visited Argentina, I don’t think I could have told you what the tango really was – maybe just another Latin American dance step.
But in Buenos Aires, you find tango everywhere. Leaking out of restaurants. Whole CD stores devoted to the great Carlos Gardel, whose picture is pervasive. Dancers in the middle of the pedestrian shopping street, Florida. Dancers so wrapped up with each other, arms and legs entangled, that you would think they were playing that old party game “twister.” Unimaginably beautiful sounds come forth from stringed instruments and accordion-like instruments (bandoneons, the best thing since Zydeco music).
Legend has it that tango started in the rough neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, among brothels and dockworkers. The upper classes would have nothing to do with it. They were too busy building the beautiful Paris of Latin America. But when they went to Paris, they discovered the tango, which had travelled across the ocean, and then it was acceptable. Now it’s okay with everyone in Argentina. Lesson: distrust the powers that be, but embrace what comes with trade and exchange.
You can find plenty of tango music with a little research, but my favorite is by modern tango composer Astor Piazzolla. His album (also available as MP3’s) Tango: Zero Hour (1992) is one of the most intriguing albums I have ever purchased. Words that come to mind: romantic, melancholy, rhythmic, dark, mysterious, moving, sensual. Check it out. If you like what you hear, there is also a video documentary (Astor Piazzolla in Portrait, 2005) about this most interesting composer. Other music and videos are also listed on Amazon.
On the other side of the globe, the drones of Indian music have long fascinated me. Nothing sounds like a Sitar, or like Indian tablas (drums). As I collect unusual musical instruments, I have investigated many of these instruments, the same ones which fascinated the Beatles and made Ravi Shankar world-famous. But a real treat is a piece of software called RiyazStudio (http://www.riyazstudio.com/). For just $39.95, you can have the coolest (and most controllable) set of Indian instruments and drums playing away on your laptop. I often just let it run in the background while I am working away, and find it very soothing. Just make sure you put a decent pair of speakers or headphones on your computer, as this is sound worth hearing!
Email me and let me know what you think of these bits of ear candy if you try them out.