Antonio Rodríguez Villar

Cadícamo - «Tango needs not to be changed»

xcerpts from a conversation with Enrique Cadícamo: «I don't agree at all with the so-called avant-garde of tango. Vanguard is what first falls in a line of fire. In a combat a vanguard is the part of an army which goes ahead of the main body. In tango there is something similar. The vanguard of tango is the first thing that falls before the indifference of all those who know what tango is.

«Tango has popular roots, like other rhythms in other parts of the world that have not changed nor have they been distorted nor have they been presented with a new packaging. Can one update cante jondo? It would be nonsense. Why? Because it comes from popular roots, Moorish, Spanish. I love all that means progress but in some things it doesn't make sense. For machinery, for computers, for shows is all right. But not for this.

«Tango is a very humble, very simple thing. It was played by guys who had no formal musical training like Ángel Villoldo, Eduardo Arolas, Enrique Delfino. It was a feeling that was worth more than all the orthodox part contained in the written music. We have to keep tango the way it is. It is our thing, it is a landscape that remained as it was before. The tango has already come. It is impossible to speak of tango yet to come.

«I was in Paris when tango began to walk in the year 1928. Tango has reached so far because it is a kind of music, quite simple, that came from beyond the pampas, that said things in its own language.

«Today tango lyrics cannot be written because tango is a question of mood, of a period of time. Celedonio Flores, for example, surrounds it with an epochal mood, a landscape. Why? Because he has words that fit to what Buenos Aires was then. Now there will be other words but let them look for them. Where the author dies, the epoch dies. For me the time of tango has already died.

«Today we may have composers and music authors, but not tango authors. Tango would be then another thing, another phenomenon of the present. It would be the song of Buenos Aires, or whatever. Another label they should give to it.

«When does the time of that tango end? With the well-known, traditional tangos and anthological ones. Then the period came to an end. I can write a tango in 20 minutes or in 15. If it's in half an hour it's not worthwhile. I still make it with the flavor and with the style that I knew in Buenos Aires in 1920, in '25 or in '30.

«People want to listen to the anthological thing, to what was, to what was important in the past. The new things, today stuff, they are not the same thing. Gardel recorded 23 of my tangos. It is a honorable record, it means that I know something about tangos.

«The tango has not died because they are playing it in New York to a smash acclaim. They are playing it in France, in Finland.

«It is necessary to advise young people that tango doesn't need a change of clothes at all. It is a thing that remained of the past and it is necessary to play it just like it is.

«Tango should not move away from the established patterns. Please don't tell me that a tango is written in 1986 (date of this interview). Speaking about Florida street, about the corner of the Obelisk. I don't know where tango places are. In a soccer field, with a bludgeon? There are, of course there are. Let's do it with our intuition.

«I have not said that a barrier is built against everything that wants to be developed within tango music. On the contrary, I would like to see a long list of new authors making hits or that they have made great hits. I would love to because then one thinks that one has achieved something after so many years; that one has been useful so that later they continue with your task.

«Circumstances may change but man is the same. But it would no longer have the essence of tango. Essence was the past one, although you cannot believe it. It was the time, it was the streetcar, it was the counter on Maipú and Corrientes... it was called that way. They were all those things that conformed an union, a scenario. Now, it would be necessary to make an almost physical effort to be able to make a tango with a soccer field or with a pizzeria.

«Today there are tangos that are very pretty, but they are songs in a tango beat. It is not the tango of a neighborhood, about an expert on a region, a scout. It is not like that tango that brought a feeling, an emotion when you danced to it like the tangos of Arolas. It is today tango, but it is not the traditional tango. It is a song that appears that may be very well made and may work as a song, but not as an authentic tango. Because if you sing this tango in Denmark, people won't know where this music came from.

«There is a quite similar situation to apocalypse in tango. First, because the orchestras, which were sources for job, disappeared and second, there is no diffusion.

«The present tango singers do their best. There are good singers, but Gardel would surpass them all. Because he discovered a way of singing that doesn't offend. He had a wonderful voice, a classical voice. He would have been a great opera singer.

«How was “Muñeca brava” born ? Those tangos were satires, pulling somebody's leg a little bit. It was the social atmosphere for that type of tango. They were light criticisms to the girls of the night milieu of the cabarets of Buenos Aires that we used to frequent. The lyrics had authenticity, they were made for something. I wrote “Muñeca brava” when the General José Félix Uriburu entered a revolution (September 1930). That was the first step for a hundred revolutions to come. Later my tango called “Al mundo le falta un tornillo” was released. An author has to portray the time that the country is living. He should contribute with something to the history of the city in such a time. The contribution of the artist, of the musician, of the composer, is the result of a painting of Buenos Aires.

«Success is to walk down the street hearing that people whistle a tango of yours. That is the biggest glory for an author. Even though the one who whistles doesn't know the name nor who made it. Today there has not appeared a hit in many years.

«Juan Carlos Cobián didn't move away from the spirit of tango, but he broke the old, archaic molds, like those of Ángel Villoldo or Eduardo Arolas. Despite that Cobián was an admirer of Arolas. It is all right that an innovator comes, but he really has to invent a true thing, something ours. He has to create a tango that later, when the moment comes, has the noise of tango, the spring that tango possesses and that they don't put it.

«I don't discard the possibility that the tango with essence returns. If there are researchers they have to say why it was that Cobián, Delfino and all the revolutionaries of tango left the authentic part. To see why it was. It is necessary to study and then, yes, they can make a 1986 tango and, at the right time, furnish it with the look, of what tango is.

«The tango is the simplest thing, it's pulse, it's strength, it's an inner emotion that you throw on the keys and bring out an effect. It is not boasting, that is another thing.

«El Negro Flores —not Celedonio—, but Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, the pianist, was a monster. Furthermore, he was the creator of a style. At that time everybody had his own style. Cobián, Delfino, El Negro Flores had their own style. What decency the musicians of that time had! They themselves said they didn't want to sound like somebody else and they really made true tango.

«El Negro Flores had been a guitarist, but he was a great pianist and he achieved guitar effects on the piano. He galloped on the keys. He played things that were genuinely ours. He was not a virtuoso, like those who play things that don't have anything to do with tango. Tango is full of emotion, it is virile, it is not an effeminate thing. Tango is a brave music, for that reason the old tangos remain.

«Among the singers —and taking out Gardel—, I liked very much Julio Sosa, Héctor Mauré, Edmundo Rivero, Charlo.

«Among the women who sing tangos? Mercedes Simone. Also Azucena Maizani. Virginia Luque, as a star, the best. In tango it is necessary to say things with subtlety. Sofía Bozán, for example, never learned to sing, she never went to a conservatory, she never practiced vocalization but she sang tangos marvelously, gracefully.

«Those were times when the tango pieces were said. Tango has a personality that cannot be learned in the conservatories. Each singer has to put what he feels and if he doesn't feel it he had better to quit. Tango is the most difficult thing to sing. When a singer comes pushing, with a voice that he wants to take out because he doesn't have it in any part, then we have better to run away. Ángel Vargas had a little small voice and he sang marvelously. Fiorentino didn't have a voice at all, but the emotion, the pleasure for tango was what made him sing».