It Takes Two to Tango

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

A little while back I posted about teaching style to your middle school band, and recommended some fantastic titles in Latin, African, and Klezmer styles, and more!  You can add 2 great new tangos to that list – one an original by Robert Sheldon; the other, an excellent Paul Murtha arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s well-known Libertango.  Stylistic charts provide some interesting variety to your concert programming, place different reading and interpretation demands on players enhancing their musicianship, and may well be the highlight of your performance.  These arrangements are fun, different, and enjoyable, and we couldn’t recommend them more.  Enjoy!

Tango Argentina by Robert Sheldon
Interesting to program with plenty to teach, this popular South American dance style allows your developing musicians to work on light playing and staccato articulation.  Low winds have stylistically appropriate bass lines, trumpets and clarinets feature prominently on the melody (complete with off-beat 8th note pick-ups), and changes of tempo provide contrast while range and technique are very manageable.  Throw in some guiro, tambourine, clave, and a typical tango snare drum pattern to keep your percussionists engaged.

Libertango by Astor Piazzolla
Arranged by Paul Murtha
With an original, James Bond sounding introduction and set in a Latin rock style, this popular and recognizable composition by Astor Piazzolla is a great programming contrast.  The melody will get woodwind fingers moving; counterlines, glissandi, and a brief trumpet solo add interest; and the harmonic changes will help your students’ ears to grow.  Libertango is a fun, light number your audience is sure to enjoy.  Definitely consider it for spring concert programming!

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004.  Besides music, he geeks out on comic books, amusement parks, and all things Pittsburgh (Go, Steelers!).  He also plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band, loves fall weather, and is excited that hockey season has begun!


Categories: Concert Band, Music Education, New Publications, Staff Picks

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