Monday, 18 April 2011


Ástor Piazzolla - Libertango

It's mildly irritating when you've felt you're among the cognoscenti who know a piece of somewhat obscure music, and then it turns up in a car advert. I'm thinking of Ástor Piazzolla's Libertango and the Volvo S60 R-Design ad.

Never mind; it's a brilliant piece, whose name (Libertad + Tango) represents its Argentine composer's break from classical tango form. The definitive original is embedded above. But there have been any number of very good covers and adaptations. They include the excellent adaptation by Grace Jones - Strange (I've Seen that Face Before), which featured prominently in the film Frantic; this terrifyingly brilliant solo accordion version by Richard Galliano at the concert Piazzolla Forever; and this quite nice version by the classical crossover string quartet Bond.

The official Ástor Piazzolla website is One interesting fact I found from on a quick skim is that the main theme for the film 12 Monkeys is Piazzolla's Suite Punta del Este, arranged and incorporated into the score by the composer Paul Buckmaster.

It's on my agenda to learn Libertango on the bayan, though I think I'm going to have to get a score. I can play the legato section reasonably, but the more staccato section has some moderately nasty syncopation.

Addendum, 12th April 2012: I finally got around to doing it. The general syncopation eluded me for months, so I left the piece on the back burner. I tried again early in 2012, and suddenly found it feasible. This is a pretty basic arrangement, but I'm working on developing it. (The strange right-hand position when playing lower notes is down to the narrowness of the room - I was recording in the bathroom for the good acoustics, but kept banging my elbow on the shower-screen).

- Ray

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