Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Good vs. popular DJs

What makes a good DJ? What makes a popular DJ? Are all popular DJs good? Are all good DJs popular? I think those are very interesting questions and I will give you my answers to them. Although it is difficult, I don't want to sound too judgemental in this post. I will just share my humble view here. :)

I think that not all popular DJs are good. And there are many great DJs that are not popular. In this text by “popular” I mean being invited to play frequently at quality events. How is that possible? It does not sound fair and right, does it?

In my opinion there is only one element that makes a good DJ: the music he or she plays. As simple as that, nothing else. But there are several elements that make popular DJ. I would classify them under 3 headings: music, personal aspects and self-advertising. The music is the most important, but personal aspects are also very influential. Self-advertising is probably overrated, but also plays a role. In a more visual way this would look like:

A good DJ
A popular DJ
Personal aspects

As music that DJs play is the most important element, it deserves a separate post. I hope to write it soon. :)

You might be surprised but I strongly believe that personal aspects are almost as important as musical choices when we talk about reasons of popularity. Those personal aspects are: positive attitude, smile, physical attractiveness, dancing skills, number of friends, charisma, etc. All of them are absolutely positive, but don't make anybody's music better.

So why do those elements play such a big role? There are 2 reasons for that. The first one is very obvious: positive, smiling, attractive, dancing well people with charisma and friends add value to events. They attract more participants, make events more successful and enjoyable.

In my opinion today's tango world becomes a market, similar to the one for consumer goods or services. More and more often tango events become brands with a clear marketing strategy behind. Tango DJs are an important part of this strategy (e.g. the coolest DJs for the coolest event).

The other reason why personal aspects to a significant extent make a DJ popular is... organizers' ignorance. Some organizers simply don't have any clue about music or don't pay enough attention to it. I have witnessed instances when DJs were invited based on a recommendation of a friend of a friend of a friend :).  This is disrespectful to participants and risky for events' success.

The last element is self-advertising. Putting it in a commercial way: a DJ is a service provider and services sell better if they are advertised. There are 2 ways of advertising: direct (e.g. contacting organizers and asking them a job) or indirect (e.g. making a lot of fuss on Facebook, having a Youtube channel or a blog). Hang on... I have Facebook page, Youtube channel and you are reading my blog. Does it mean I...? :)

I don't have any problem with DJs' self-advertising. What I don't appreciate is when DJs push themselves (e.g. dancing or being extremely nice to someone just because he or she is an organizer).  I'm also a little bit bored with all DJ social media that don't offer any interesting content, merely advertising (e.g. FB pages with nothing else but DJing schedule or Youtube channels republishing songs that have been published many times in the past).

To summarise... All 3 elements (music, personal aspects and self-advertising) do have impact on a DJ's popularity. It is understandable why the latter 2 factors play a role. At the same time it is very unfortunate that they are so important. Some really great DJs don't play at events frequently only because personal aspects and self-advertising are not playing in their favour. And vice-versa some medium DJs play often mainly because they are cool, attractive, because they dance well or advertise a lot. I don't think this is a big issue, but it is important that tango dancers and organizers aware of it. More awareness in this topic might mean more conscious choices and better music at events.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Domingo Federico

It's been a while since my previous post. Once again I want to give it a try and write more frequently. Let's see how it goes :).

I'd like to share with you some words about Domingo Federico. I think his music is amazing and it is not appreciated as much as it should be. In his early years, Domingo became interested in playing violin and bandoneón. His father gave him first classes. After some years, he eventually became a bandeonist. In 1941 Federico joined the famous orchestra of Miguel Caló. In 1943 he formed his own orchestra and started recording one year later.

For more detailed biographical and discographical information please go to:
Todo Tango - Domingo Federico

Most of Federico's songs (especially earlier ones) are melodic and romantic, some of them are dramatic. At the same time they have a very characteristic pulsing rhythm. I think it is this very unique combination of melody and rhythm that makes music of Domingo Federico so special.
My favourite recordings come from the 1940ies, but there are a few pearls from 1950ies. There are also some recordings from 1968-69, but they are less interesting and I would not play them in milongas.

The most important singer of the orchestra was Carlos Vidal. He recorded around 30 songs, of which several are masterpieces. It is pretty easy to build a good tanda with those songs: with good ingredients a dish is likely to taste well :).

All songs below are with Carlos Vidal:

And an amazing vals sung by duo Vidal and Oscar Larroca:

Several instrumental songs from 1944-45 are also worth mentioning:

And some other songs that should be a must in repertoire of each self-respected DJ :). Building those songs in a tanda takes a bit more experience, but give it a go!

An absolute hit of many marathons and festivals:

Another great song similar to Leyenda Gaucha:

The only tango recorded with Enzo Valentino:
Cualquier Cosa, 1951
But what a tango!

A great version of Y Todavía Te Quiero sung by Armando Moreno (the same who was recording with Enrique Rodríguez:

The most romantic song by Domingo Federico! Sung by Oscar Larroca (the same who will later sing the famous Volvamos A Empezar with Alfredo de Angelis):