Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Bando Player

An inanimate object possessing a mysterious "personality" as it breathes in and out, it can sound like a choir of voices in a musician's hands. Arresting; powerful; very complex.

If you don't hear it in a certain way, you might not pay much attention. You might dismiss it as an accordian (it is much richer in sound and capability). You might even wonder why tango people like it - it's so ... different.

But suddenly, you get it - and you are never the same. It changes your hearing, gives you a truer sense of pitch. It envelops you in a pensive - but - warm and evocative soundscape. Like a blanket it comforts you from the world outside. It draws you in. It grows a deeper relationship between you and tango.

It's breathing goes with the dancers' breathing and pumping hearts.

What an sublime technical achievement this reed instrument is.

It was the invention of Heinrich Band who, at age 29 in December, 1850 put the first one on sale in his shop in Krefeld, Germany.

Bs. As. Port

Just when the first bandoneón arrived in the rapidly growing port city of Buenos Aires hasn't been recorded. It simply showed up like all the other immigrants - alone, virtually unloved, practically unknown back in the land of its birth (where it was intended to play church music).

A new instrument in a new land, it played waltzes and polkas, but was soon to join in with the guitars, violins and flutes playing the hot new musical genre being created in Argentina - Milonga. But that music was fast - and nobody playing the bandoneón (they were all new to it) could keep-up with the other players.

The music had to slow down for bandoneón players to join in.

Tango Tango is born.

And almost before you can say "immigrant" ... the Bandoneón becomes the very soul of tango.

Recommended reading:


The Bandonion: A Tango History, by Javier García Méndes and Arturo Penón (Nightwood Editions, London, Ontario, 1988) translated by Timothy Barnard. ISBN 0-88971-111-9

Christian Mensing's bandoneón pages

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