Parenthesis as a tango for the soul of Piazzolla
First Soul Fragment.
Piazzolla is tango and is the soul of tango, not the one that is danced in the halls, but the one that is heard from time to time in the bars of Buenos Aires; the tango that is served with a drink while someone is cursed with grief and anger. Piazzolla is the rage. It is a bandoneon that is played alone.
One night they asked me to listen Goodbye, Nono. They sent me a version, and I listened to it, and looked for others. In one of them a violin played while Piazzolla sang:
How long the road will be without you!
Pain, sadness, the table and the bread.
And my goodbye, oh, my goodbye to your love,
your tobacco, your wine.
I open parentheses.
There is a small piece inside the bow instruments. It is called “soul”. It is a cylinder-shaped rod that supports the tension of the strings. The soul made the violin not explode inside the song, because that's a theme that can easily make violins explode. Soul against soul. A rod enduring goodbyes and absent parents. A lot of tension for a wooden soul and for a tango soul. A lot of tension for a solo violin and for a solo voice. Much grief.
I close parentheses.
Piazzolla learned of his father's death on his way back from a tour in 1959. He asked to be left alone and set out to compose what he himself called “the most beautiful song ever composed”.
The truth is that the violin sounded sad, and he sounded without a shadow. I think both of them were heartbroken.
As I listened, I thought of my grandfather and the absence he left in the house; that is, in silence, at that table and in that bread. I thought of all the tables where someone is missing, and of my grandfather again, who is my Nonino; the one who went out to feed the dogs, who also left a long path and a procession behind his body, and a woman choosing the rice and the miracles in a dining room that was even bigger without him and without his pictures.
Goodbye, Nono It is the tango of absence, of the country that Piazzolla kneaded with his clay, of the signs of going so necessary, as terrible as all the signs that are announced without tracing the path of the encounter.
suite room of the angel
Second soul fragment.
The composition of the suite room lasted from 1962 to 1965, and arose from a play by Alberto Rodríguez Muñoz called Angel Tango. Piazzolla did all the music. In the play there is an angel who tries to heal the broken spirits of men, and who dies in a knife fight.
The Angel's Introduction it is a fine tango with a somewhat sordid harmony. It is what is called a tango with character, with a calm fury. It's a heel. The second piece — Milonga del Angel — is all feeling. It is a beautiful and atrocious hunger. The first thing that sounds is the bass, with accurate, almost opaque chords; then there is a violin whose soul seems to support all the milongas and all the wings. And then the piano arrives, and then a very sad bandoneon. And so a milonga happens that continues with a violin solo. Then comes a fugue in three voices called Death of the Angel which is almost a story, you can feel the knife through the skin, or that substance from which angels are made.
Then Piazzolla resurrects him in a happy, ornate tango. The Resurrection of the Angel it is solemn and cheerful. It is that: a resurrection.
Piazzolla was the man who killed and resurrected an angel in the same suite room, the one that gave a bandoneon sound to the slaughter and the resurrection. One hundred years after his birth, it seems to me that he is the resurrected angel, the one who planted a different milonga in the souls of men, the one who came down to earth to die in other knives.
Third soul fragment.
Libertango It was released in 1974 within the self-titled album. It lasts two minutes and forty-five seconds. It is a very small piece, and in those few minutes he manages to talk about musical freedom and about freedom in its entirety. Piazzolla breaks the classical harmony of tango. First the bandoneon enters and marks the pulse, and the electric bass arrives, and the percussion arrives, and it is no longer a classic tango but an invention. There were harmonic relations of jazz embedded in the sacred genre of Argentina, and that scandalized the old composers, and they called it “assassin of tango”, and banned it from the stations. But he didn't get tired.
when you hear Libertango with Horacio Ferrer's text, you can feel what the freedom of tango really is, the rupture; but you can also feel a greater freedom; that is to say, the freedom that is not a composed music, but a little song of life, of the belly, of the street, a music that has always been upon us:
my freedom is tango
And it's blues, and it's cueca, and choro,
danzón and ballads.
my freedom is tango,
minstrel from town to town,
And it's murga and symphony,
and it's chorus in black and white.
Libertango it goes in fade out. As if an unmarked bandoneon at the end of the piece hadn't been enough. Freedom is, in Piazzolla, a cry in fade out, a cast shadow.
the whole soul
I open parentheses.
The soul —that little piece of wood that withstands shocks and violent bows— is seen when one peeks through the violin, then the bandoneon listens to it and cries. There are souls that are made of wood, and others that are made of bandoneon, of goodbyes, of dead parents; souls that are songs that rest until pain and even loneliness. Piazzolla must be embracing the star that was signaling to him, he must be singing to his Nonino from a tango light. Piazzolla is an eternal thing in Argentina, a clarification in tango, a parenthesis in music. Piazzolla is freedom, and it is pain, and it is tango, and libertango.
And it is so. There are souls that are beautiful parentheses, that come to clarify what we are made of and how the bandoneon of the spirits sounds. There are souls that are heard a hundred years later in the bars of a bar, that are placed next to the glass while someone is cursed with grief and rage. There are unfinished, odd souls.
Just as there are parentheses that never close.