Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Japanese sound

This blog post aims to convince you why you should bother about the labels that print your tango CD's, by showing you what huge difference it can mean.

Below is two different tracks containing the same rendition of "El vino triste" by D'Arienzo and Echagüe (1939).

The one at the top is from the album "La Morocha", made by the label Magenta. The one at the bottom is from the album "Juan D'Arienzo Vol. 6 (1939-1940)", from the Japanese label CTA.

The first thing to notice is that Magenta somehow has a shorter song. The difference is in the speed, from 69 BPM to 72 BPM.

The second thing to notice is that the amplitude is generally much higher on Magenta, and looks more saturated throughout the song. On CTA, we see more differences and room in the dynamics.

The same impressions can be found in the spectrogram:

I can almost feel how all this red must be terrible to listen to! Red pain! I do not want that when I play for dancers, nor for myself.

But, of course, all this would not matter if the human ear could not hear the difference. Here I give you two small samples, so you can decide for yourself!

First Magenta, from the album "La Morocha":


Then CTA, from the album "Juan D'Arienzo Vol. 6 (1939-1940)":


I think Google might have compressed my videos a lot, but at least we may assume the same was done on both... :-)

For more reading on this subject, I advise you to the following pages:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tanda: Pugliese with Jorge Vidal

This tanda has been one of my favorites for a long time, but this is
quite challenging music, and I do not play it often. Here it goes:

Puente AlsinaOsvaldo PuglieseJorge Vidal194965
La cieguitaOsvaldo PuglieseJorge Vidal194963
Ventanita de arrabalOsvaldo PuglieseJorge Vidal195062
Barra queridaOsvaldo PuglieseJorge Vidal195062

Here you can listen to the tanda on Spotify:

Michal Lavokah writes on milonga.co.uk:

In 1949, singer Jorge Vidal was homeless, and sleeping in the back of the bar where he performed. Pugliese discovered him and asked him to join his orchestra. Vidal agreed, but free spirit that he was he stayed only a year before going solo once again. They recorded only eight sides together.

Jorge Vidal (fra todotango)
This tanda, half of what they did together, consists solely of "Guardia Vieja" compositions. "Ventanita de arrabal", for instance, has been recorded by Juan Maglio and Francisco Canaro
(separately, of course) back in 1927. That song forms the climax of the tanda, at least for me, partly due to it's wonderful piano part. Listen to the achingly beautiful piano playing at 2:12:
Right before, the the violins dissolve the music into a moment of absolute tranquility. This is the same way the song introduced the voice of Vidal at 0:49, but this time Pugliese plays the theme pianissimo, almost caressing the keys, before Vidal takes over. Magnificent...

After this intense song, "Barra querida" wraps it up, starting with a more insisting beat. With the whistling (for instance at 0:36), my hope is that this song will restore the happy mood of the evening.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What is he playing?

Last Monday, at Robert's practica, I premiered my new system for displaying what I play during my DJ sets. Since I searched long and hard for a pre-made solution, with no luck, I will share with you what I did to make it work.

First to the end result. On my DJ-stand, I have a small LCD screen facing the dancers. I dim the lights to the minimum to make it as non-disturbing as possible, yet visible from across the room. The display shows information like this:

The most important information is the orchestra, and this is visible from across the room for those with good eyes (not me). For those passing by the stand, I also display the type (tango/vals/milonga etc), year, title and singer (if any). I wanted to give it a clean look, therefore everything except the orchestra is given a small font. By the way, this song is from a brand new tanda, made from a CD that arrived to my mail box this morning! Look out for it next Monday! :-)

And for the cortinas, I have another layout:

I hope my choice of cortinas do not make this display of 'Cortina' needed, but for the beginners it might be nice. I also show artist and title, as I often ask myself that question during a cortina I like.

So to the technical details

As explained in a different post, I use Foobar 2000 as my DJ software. After searching wikis and forums, I found the 'Now Playing Simple' plugin. Thank you, Skipy Rich, for making that available!!

The plugin writes information about the currently playing song to a file. I have configured it as follows:

As you can see, it writes the information to the file 'np.csv' on my Desktop. The formatting string you see is:

Then I needed to display that file in a nice way. I therefore wrote a simple Java servlet program to read the file, parse it, and output a nicely formatted HTML page. That servlet is right now a big hack, but it works. If you are interested in the code, please let me know! I will then see if I can tidy it up a bit, and release it under a open source license.

Some interesting (?) details:

I use Jquery quickfit to adjust the size of the text. That way, I make sure the text fits, no matter how long the song title, name of the orchestra, etc.

I use Maven Console Plugin to package the servlet into an executable file. When I start DJing, I simply double-click on the packaged file, and I am ready to go! Thanks to you, my colleague at Kantega, Eirik Bjørsnøs, for making computer programming simpler!

I then display the HTML on an external screen using Google Chrome. As the HTML is available over the network, I could also display it some other places. For example an iPad closer to where the people are in the milonga.