Tanturi – Mozo guapo, calmate

On her Tango Investigation Agency (TIA) Facebook page, Trud Antzée (tangoimmigrant blog) came up with Tanturi’s “Mozo guapo” that is published on CDs at various speeds, tuned somewhere between Am and Bm.
Which version is correct? It’s important to sort it out because it’s not about marginal errors but about substantial, notable differences that you can hear and feel when dancing. Should the Mozo guapo (handsome guy) calm down?

The original score (see below) is in A minor (Am) with a second part in A major, written by Tanturi himself in 1941. He recorded it in February of the same year. However, on CDs we hear something between Am and Bm. Playing in Bm is very very rare in tango (and with 5 flats quite difficult), and there is no reason to think Tanturi changed his mind and wanted the piece played one semitone higher.
Since tuning of the (Germany-made) bandoneons at that time was the same as current tuning, tuning is is not the cause of the problem. It is the rotation speed of the disks (shellacs) that was not exactly at 78 rotations per minute (see homepage for more explanation).

I found one copy in my collection tuned exactly in A of which I don’t know the source. [update: Jens Dörr told me that the CD Buenos Aires Tango Club/Serie Orquestas/Tanturi&Laurens ORQ 249 has the correct speed].
I checked four other versions published on CDs, which are all too fast, with some differences, and calculated the required correction:

  • Two versions just between A and B. Tuning: B -47 cent (=A +53). Speed: 114 bpm.
    CDs: Tangos De Mi Ciudad BMG/Tango Argentino + Natucci
    Correction: -3.15%
  • Two lower-quality versions with a tuning closer to B&#x266d than to A. Tuning: B -21 cent (= A +79). Speed: 115 bpm.
    CDs: Cuatro Compases El bandoneón/EBCD 048 + Muñeca brava/Magenta
    Correction: -4.61%.

The correction brings it back to Am and the resulting speed is 111 bpm.
A correction of -4.61% is quite big, but let’s listen to the version that ‘only’ needs -3.15% correction and the retuned copy:
In both examples, first you hear the uncorrected fragment, then the same fragment corrected.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Not only the voice sounds better, with a more natural vibrato, but also the violins and other instruments.

Download here my completely retuned Tanturi – Mozo guapo.

Mozo guapo Score

3 thoughts on “Tanturi – Mozo guapo, calmate

  1. Chris

    Age & Sebastian wrote: “the cause of the problem… is the rotation speed of the disks (shellacs) that was not exactly at 78 rotations per minute

    None of the evidence you’ve presented indicates that’s necessarily true. You’re supposing the speed-up occurred independently and coincidentally on all four versions that you have found, but you show no evidence to support that. You don’t even know that the four came from shellacs.

    The evidence you show is consistent with a speed-up in the recording studio, possibly unintentional, but probably intended by the orchestra leader and/or the record producer.

    … there is no reason to think Tanturi changed his mind and wanted the piece played one semitone higher.

    There is no reason to think Tanturi did not want the piece played just as it appears.

    And there is no reason to think dancers do not want the piece played just as it appears – as they’ve heard and enjoyed it for the last seventy years. If you’re seeking evidence that the piece is too fast, then rather than examining the output of your computer analysis, you should be listening for complaints from dancers. I’ve heard no such complaints.

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  2. admin Post author

    Chris, your comment to play Mozo Guapo “just as it appears” misses the point that we have at least three different speed versions from various CDs.
    To me, they clearly sound different, feel different when danced, although I would normally not be conscious of the differences when I dance.
    As I replied previously to you, the speed problem of 78 rpm shellacs is not my invention, but a well-known and documented problem, see e.g. Peter Copeland’s sound restoration bible, chapter 5.
    We know from other research that 78 rpm discs were often not made at exactly 78 rotations per minute, but perhaps 76 or 80 rpm (see Manual of analogue audio restoration techniques by Peter Copeland , Chapter 5.4. This gives a clear indication that the source of the detuning is probably transferring the discs at the wrong speed. It is known that for some years the US Victor company recorded its discs on purpose at 76 rpm, so they would sound “more brilliant” when played at 78 rpm.

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  3. Chris

    Age and Sebastian wrote: “Chris, your comment to play Mozo Guapo “just as it appears” misses the point that we have at least three different speed versions from various CDs.

    The difference between the CDs you checked is tiny – and the “correction” you have applied is way outside that range.

    see Manual of analogue audio restoration techniques by Peter Copeland , Chapter 5.4. This gives a clear indication that the source of the detuning is probably transferring the discs at the wrong speed

    Actually, it doesn’t. The only transfers it refers to is in a period ending 1925 – two decades before the recording in question.

    It is known that for some years the US Victor company recorded its discs on purpose at 76 rpm, so they would sound “more brilliant” when played at 78 rpm.

    Yes – this is an example of the intended speed-up to which I referred. You perhaps now can see why your claim “It is the rotation speed of the disks (shellacs) that was not exactly at 78 rotations per minute” is an unsafe assumption. To actually know the speed, you need to play the disc itself, rather than guess from what you find on CDs.

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