Jazz was born around 1880 in New Orleans. His contemporary, the tango, another emigrant music, was born further south, in another port city: Buenos Aires. The origins of this “sad dancing thought” are hazy. The tango incorporates the breath of the milonga, a ballad of the pampas, and that of the habanera, propagated by the conquistadors. It shivers with Mediterranean reminiscences, notably Neapolitan tarantella. The bandoneon, this bellows instrument imported by German migrants, gives it its soul.
Some musicologists assure that the tango would integrate elements of Candombe from Bantu Africa. Astor Piazzolla challenged this ancestry: “Tango is introverted music, probably coming from the East. Brazilian music is African. She is outgoing. You will never see an Argentinian singing in a cafe. If he’s drunk, he falls asleep and that’s it. The Brazilians are singing. Never the Argentines. ” No one will dare to doubt his word: he is the reformer, the liberator, the redeemer of the tango. He sublimated these elegies from the suburbs, balls and brothels and exported them all over the world.