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3 Music Styles of Tango

Tango emerged in the rough, working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. Along with it, two other related musical styles emerged. Together, tango, vals, and milonga form a rich tapestry of Argentine music that is enjoyed by tango dancers to this day.



Tango, with roots in African and European music, is characterized by its distinctive 4/4 time signature, and an intense sound that wavers between romance, drama, & melancholy. Of the three musical styles, Tango is the most well-known and commonly played.


Vals is the waltz of Argentina. Born from the European waltz but infused with a distinct Argentine flavor, vals has a more flowing and lilting sound compared to the intense walking beat of tango. It is characterized by a 3/4 time signature, and is often danced with sweeping, circular movements.


Milonga, the high-spirited cousin of tango, is a faster-paced and more playful style. It features a lively 2/4 time signature and a syncopated rhythm that encourages quick footwork and a sense of humor in the dance. Milonga is known for its joyful and energetic spirit, making it a favorite among both dancers and musicians.


BTW, the word "milonga" also means a place/party where tango is dance, like the the one below.

Milongas are typically structured in sets of musical styles or "tandas". Each tanda can range between 3-4 songs, depending on the DJ. The most common structure goes as follows:

2 tango tandas, 1 vals tanda, 2 tango tandas, 1 milonga tanda.

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