Tango El Choclo song analysis

Hi everyone. I’ve been exploring and making arrangements of classical tangos for the guitar. This is a Tango from 1903, I will try to explain some harmonic concepts that were in my mind for arranging this tango in IFR terminology. This tango have three sections that we will call A, B,C. I chose the key d minor that’s the same as Horacio Salgan’s version. The rythm is 4/4 as most tangos are. See attached video.


Section A: The melody starts on the pickup on the upbeat of the third bar on note 3.
6- for two bars going up using a combination of arpeggios and using the tension between note 3 and 4. In the third bar we go up and use a 6- with a major 6th and then down again and we finish the phrase with a 4D and a 3D chord.

We now use a very similar melodic motif but this time we start from the 3d chord. So we are using the tonic dominant relationship. We go up with arpeggios and then back down using inversions of the 3d chord.

We know go back to the original phrase but with a variant. We use the same phrase with chord 6- for two bars and then insert a quick 3 half diminished and a 6d chord creating an atrraction and resolving to a 2-. So this progression is a minor 2-5-1 to the 2- chord.

Now we finish the A section with the following chords: 2-/ 6-/ 3D- 6- using some chords as chromatic embellishments but the main progression is the one shown before

Section B: In section B we start by going to the relative major key. So if d minor is the 6th chord, F major will be the 1 chord.
So the phrase starts with the 5D chord inmediately causing an attraction to the 1 chord and then going to 6- / 2-/ 5D /4#diminshed/ 1M. The whole phrase goes 5D/ 1M/ 6-/ 2-/ 2-/ 5D /4#diminshed/ 1M. This 4#diminshed/ 1M relationship is a tricky one to explain. Remember diminished chords can be thought as 4 different chords so a B diminshed chord(b,d,f,ab) can also be thought as a F diminshed or a 1 diminished chord. It causes a type of suspended feeling that when it resolves to the 1M it is very satysfying to the ear( for another example of this relationship look for section b of chega de saudade)

The second phrase has a very similar motif but these time instead of doing it in the 5D chord we start in the 3d chord creating atrraction to the original 6- and resolving in it and then the phrase closes with a 7D and finishing with a 3D and then the whole B section repeats itself entirely.
:5D/ 1M/ 6-/ 2-/ 5D/ 4#DIM/ 1M/ 3D/ 6-/ 7D/ 3D :

Section C: We now go to D major tonality. D minor was the tonality of Section A so this is the paralel major tonality.
The melody outlines the D major chord or in this case our new 1 chord, and then responds with a 5d chord in a very similar fashion and then go back ti 1 chord.
1M/ 5D/ 1M
Then we do a very popular progression that starts 1M/ 6D/2-/ This using mixed harminy using the 6d chord to go to the 2-
After we land in the 2 minor we then convert the 2- into a 2D chord having a very uplifting sensation and finsihing the phrase on a 5D chord and the whole section repeats itself and the second time instead of finishing in 5D you finish on the 1 chord to have a feeling of closure to the phrase.
Whole section: 1M/ 5D/ 5D/1M/ 6D/ 2-/ 2D/5D

After all this journey we go back to section A and the original key of D minor. Harmonically it’s basically the same with some embellishments. When a section is repeated and especially if it’s the closing section of the whole piece you would want to make some variants. In this case Ia use chromatic embellishments. It’s important for these to work to have a strong sense of rhytm and where the strong and weak beats of the melody are. Also I use a small variation in the 2-/ 6-/3 D/ 6-/ progression and use what IFR calls something like the “long way home” that is 2-/ 5D/ 1M/ 4M/ 7 half dim/ 3D/ 6-.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far. Any questions, suggestions about the analysis or analysis from other songs please let me know. Happy playing

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@Oso Hi Andres! I’m sorry I never replied to this post. You published it during a time when I was intentionally not adding my own comments to this forum because I wanted to leave it as a place where people could discuss their own musical ideas freely without anyone being the “voice of IFR”. But after talking about it with several students, we decided that I was missing an opportunity for conversation that we could all enjoy, so lately I’ve been less shy about interacting on the forum.

I just wanted to thank you for this incredibly generous post. Your harmonic analysis is perfect, and it’s very interesting to see how the IFR harmonic concepts appear in a classic tango. And I love your performance of the song. You have that classic tango expressiveness with dynamics that drew me to Buenos Aires in the first place. I think I must have told you one time that tango music was precisely what gave me the “missing piece” that enabled me to imagine the complete IFR harmonic concept. This song is a lovely example of that. It’s just complex enough to stretch your mind beyond the typical 1-4-5 of blues and rock, but it’s just simple enough to still visualize it in any key. So these songs are the perfect bridge to jazz standards, and many of them would be ideal teaching examples for IFR.

Thank you so much for this awesome contribution to the forum! I hope you’re well. - David

Hi David, thank you very much for responding, for me it’s an honor. One of the biggest things IFR study gave me was a universal way of analyzing and integrating different music from all over the world and it really is something powerfull because you see all the shared language we have as humans. I have analyzed a lot of music from different languages in IFR language and I would be really happy to share with everyone as IFR has shared and given to me. Thank you very much David, best wishes for you and for all the comunnity.

And also I welcome with much joy that you want to write or interact more. Your humbleness really is something I admire of you amongst a lot of more qualities that you have. For me you are an inspiration and a reminder of what music is really about and Im sure everyone in this comumunitty is thrilled.

Thanks for the kind words, Andres! And welcome to the forum!