An interactive timeline of tango music

We have lots of opportunities to listen to tango music these days, both in the milongas, in music apps, and online. It still isn't easy to get an overview over the music we dance to. This is why TANGO NOTES now features an interactive music matrix! The matrix displays both orchestras and style periods visually, and is packed with listen examples and bits of information. I hope you'll enjoy exploring the matrix, and that you'll discover lots of tango music to fall in love with. ❤️

This page is still in the development phase. More orchestras will be added soon! For updates, follow TANGO NOTES on Instagram & Twitter, or sign up for the newsletter.

Good to know

◉ The core period we dance to today is called the Golden Age and happened from 1935 to around 1950–1955. Depending on the DJ, we also hear Guardia Vieja (early 1930s) and post 1950 music in the milonga.

◉ When we talk about Di Sarli, D'Arienzo etc, we refer to them as orchestra leaders, not composers. (although they did compose some tangos) Recommended read: the TANGO NOTES article D'Arienz-who?, which explains what a tango orchestra actually is!

◉ Most orchestra leaders played in their own orchestra. Notable examples: Di Sarli, Biagi, and Pugliese on piano; Laurenz and Troilo on bandoneón.

◉ Each orchestra belongs to a musical main direction, but still has its personal, individual style which evolves over the decades.

◉ All orchestras recorded both instrumentals and with different singers.

◉ Most orchestras recorded some songs more than once during their career, and the most popular songs were recorded by many orchestras.

◉ Almost all orchestras played live for dancers during the Golden Age.

◉ Genres we dance to: tango, tango vals, milonga.

How to use the matrix

The time groupings and descriptions are meant as a structure to help recognising the musical periods. Think of this as a starting point for listening, not absolute truths.

The colours are chosen for overview. They do not represent any musical quality as such, but they follow the colour circle where neighbour colours are related, a bit like the neighbour tango music periods are related.

The matrix lets us listen to tango music in two different ways:

HORIZONTAL = orchestras across time periods. Each stripe in the matrix is a small timeline of an orchestra's musical development.

➡️ Example: what does D'Arienzo sound like in 1935-1939 compared to 1950-1954? What has changed?

VERTICAL = time periods across orchestras. Each colour on the vertical axis is a time period, and lets us compare the orchestras' individual style in this period.

➡️ Example: what does D'Arienzo sound like in 1950-1954 compared to Di Sarli in 1950-1954? Are there any style similarities between different orchestras within a given period?

Explore the matrix

ℹ️ Click on the squares in the matrix to find listen links and information!

ℹ️ If the squares are light grey, it means that the orchestra didn't record during this period. There's still some information in the squares.

ℹ️ The listen links will open in a separate window or in your YouTube app!

The versions mentioned in the listen links refer to an orchestras' re-recordings of the same tango.

Di Sarli, D'Arienzo, Pugliese, and Troilo are considered "The Big Four" of tango music for the milonga. There are lots more orchestras waiting to be added to the music matrix, but in the meantime, you can find out more about The Big Four on the orchestras pages!

If you're interested in learning more about how tango is composed and orchestrated, take a look at the articles Tango is served and Seeing the music.