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Tango - arco or pizz?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Steve Freides, May 17, 2011.


  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I'm playing in a kids' musical production at my wife's middle school. It's a show written specifically for their age group.

    One of the numbers is marked "Tango" and I'm not sure if I should do it pizz or arco. Pizz was my first reaction but it sounds pretty cool if played arco but detached and rhythmic.

    NB: This musical is supplied as only a piano-vocal score only so there is no already written bass part. My wife just thought that, if we were going to add a second instrument, a bass would be nice, and I agreed. I'm an experienced enough arranger that I can figure out what works as a bass part, but I'm not a terribly experienced upright bass player.

    At this point, I can make it work either way, just curious if there is any tradition to playing orchestral settings of tangos one way or the other. Arco let's you play stronger somehow, which feels better to me in this context, so that's the way I'm leaning.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    -S-
     
  2. Babar

    Babar

    Mar 22, 2011
    Los Angeles Area
    Im no arranger or expert, but I think that arco would be cooler for the kids to hear and experience in the show. Will you be in a pit, hidden, ect?
     
  3. Go arco. Like you write, strong, detached and rhythmic.
     
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    No pit - the whole thing takes place in what used to be the library of an estate. We'll just be off to one side.

    The show has eight other musical numbers. Some will be arco, others will be pizz, so anyone paying attention will get plenty of opportunity to see and hear both.

    My question is really just a musical one: what's a better musical choice for a tango? You know if, e.g., you asked me about playing a walking bass line for a blues number, the answer would be pizz - you just don't do arco for that. I'm just trying to ascertain if there's such a standard for the tango and perhaps other dance forms of a similar nature.

    Thanks.

    -S-
     
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Thank you.

    -S-
     
  6. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Qu├ębec
    I have a buddy who plays in Tango ensemble, he plays both arco & pizz depending on the mood or sections of the musical piece.
     
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Tango players definitely use both. They also do that thing where you hit the strings with your bow stick -- con legno, I believe it's called (but my memory is old and unreliable.)
     
  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Thanks, everyone. I'm going arco with this one.

    -S-
     
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I just had to post a follow-up to this one - I won't be playing it on bass at all <sigh>. My usual role in assisting my wife is playing keyboard/piano while she runs the show; for this one, she thought it was simple enough music that she'd play keyboard and I'd play upright, but we decided yesterday that it's too much for her to do as performance time nears, so I'm back at the piano, and the bass is sitting, all alone, in the corner of my living room.

    Thanks for the input - it was fun to practice. I was pretty awful at it, too, so I'll try to get back to something like that in the future.

    -S-
     

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