Salvador Arancio

The early electrical recordings by El Zorzal

e think it’s important to place in a historical context the time when the orthophonic electrical recordings began.

In 1926 the president Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear was ruling the country from 1922. In February the Spanish seaplane Plus Ultra driven by Comandante Ramón Franco arrived in Buenos Aires. He had accomplished a great heroic feat by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. That same month the Confederación Obrera Argentina (Argentine Workers’ Federation) was organized. There was a large immigration movement at that time, since 1923 to 1928 over two million people entered, but more than the half of them returned to where they came from. On October 16 one of the most beautiful monuments in our capital city was erected: the one made by the French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle to pay homage to General Carlos de Alvear.

Gardel, who had left behind a very interesting recording work with the precarious acoustical system, began his first recordings with the electrical system on November 8, 1926 in Buenos Aires. So, taking advantage of the new technical improvements, that day he recorded three compositions of his repertoire, accompanied by the guitarists José Ricardo, aka “El Negro”, and Guillermo Barbieri.

We can regard this as an important milestone that indicates a giant step taken by El Zorzal, if we take into account, correspondingly, everything that followed concerning the perfection of his recordings.

Commenting the importance of recordings in the diffusion of Gardel, the musicologist Carlos Vega said: «Gardel was the first Argentine that entered the world of the industrialized and universal “mesomusic”.» The term mesomusic applies to the kinds of music that are between superior music and folk music.

Vega himself says that the great laryngologist and phoniatrist, doctor Elier Gómez had told him: «Gardel was blessed with outstanding vocal organs, a well-developed larynx and, and consequently, long vocal cords, hence his masculine, full baritone voice...»

As from that date, the public worldwide was able to truly enjoy the whole marvel that Gardel kept in his throat. He was an outstanding unique singer who codified forever —unknowingly— the way our city song had to be sung.

The first recording was the pasodoble “Puñadito de sal” composed by Nicolás Verona with lyrics by Lito Más. Odeon disc number 18.186. On that day he cut three different takes of it.

The second recording was “Mi diosa”, tango by Francisco De Caro with lyrics by José De Grandis. Odeon disc number 18.189.

The third, the tango “Del barrio de las latas” by Raúl de los Hoyos and Emilio Fresedo. Odeon disc number 18.188.