Renowned Argentinian tango musician and composer Daniel Binelli is a scholar of the bandoneon, an accordion-like instrument designed in Europe to mimic the sounds of a church organ when congregations couldn’t afford one. Binelli romances the editors of True about the myths and truths of a legendary sound.
Hector Pablo Pereyra (aka "Pulpo.")
It starts with a legend.
In the beginning, tango was played with flutes, guitars, and violins. But eventually a sailor brought the first bandoneon to Argentina. The legend says the sailor didn’t have money to pay a bill, so he left the bandoneon.
It’s a sustained and nostalgic sound. It’s the sound that gives color to tango, bringing memories from the past. People are always leaving. They are always saying goodbye. That comes also from the fact that Buenos Aires is a port city. It is a city of goodbyes and welcomes.
For me, my life with tango started from a very young age, when I was a kid. The bandoneon is an instrument you learn to play as an inheritance. My dad was an amateur player, and he bought me my first bandoneon when I was only nine.
The bandoneon is alive. The bandoneon breathes. If you pay attention when they play, the air, the sound of the keys, that makes it very unique. I feel it as something essential. To play for me is essential.
You’re giving your soul.
After I played tango for many years, I decided to start dancing. I think the dancing is essential for the musician. Being part of it. It’s a joyful moment, going to dance. The whole idea of it. A woman dresses with her best clothes. A man dresses with the best he has.
Right away you find out.
The whole idea of a man holding a woman and dancing together is a method for a relationship. It works in the dance and it works in life. It has to be together. If there is a struggle, there is not a real connection. It has to be smooth. It comes from the skin. It’s sensual. Tango is sensual music.
People have needs and tango reflects that too, the needs of the people. It expresses their frustrations, their anger, the struggle of classes. Most of them are love songs but it has the social, political element embedded in it.
The idea of it being a tragic feeling — it’s also what brings you together with somebody. When you’re dancing, you’re sharing a certain intimacy. For three minutes. The only thing that matters when you’re dancing is to be present in that moment with the person in your arms. You dance with your partner and you dance with everybody around you.
It is sad music, but it is also about love in the end. Amidst the struggle, the misery, and the injustice of everyday life, there is joy in finding this place to share with somebody. To hug somebody. That’s how it works.