Historically, tango has been analysed in terms if different periodical headings — la guardia vieja, la guardia nueva, la edad de oro. These, while being historically practical do not adapt themselves well to DJ-ing and dancing. For those purposes — and I adher to the premise that concepts should only be utalitarian and serve a purpose — a somewhat different definition of periods can be useful. This idea, in my mind, takes into account different technical, social, and practical aspects of the music history of tango — and the way that applies to DJ-ing itself. In these initial posts I aim to lay down the rudiments of this « practical » periodisation, leaving further arguments and elaboration to later.
1926–1930 — High Guardia nueva
In tango history the first general shift in style, that between the guardia vieja and the guardia nueva occurred around 1917, with the rise of the orquesta típica and the emergence of the sung tango. This however is of little importance to the contemporary DJ, since recordings from this time are generally not fit for performance in milongas. For DJs the first crucial change occurs a decade later, or more specifically in November 1926 when the introduction of electronic recording in Argentina made sound that can be made to suit modern amplification and sound equipment. Thus, we can say that for the purposes of DJ-ing the cut-off point for performance occurs in late 1926 — for our purposes that would be the dividing line between the guardia vieja and the guardia nueva.
From its commencement the guardia nueva, in DJ terms, led to an extensive explosion in recording, with the most number of recordings and tunes in tango history being made from 1926 till 1929. This led to a rapid change and improvement in technique and instrumentation, coupled with the rapid evolution of tango in theater and radio. In a sense however, the years from 1926 do provide us with more quantity than quality, most tunes from this period tend to be quite repetive and not very interesting. The poor quality of many of the older electronic recordings also means that they are no more suitable for performance than the earlier acustic ones. This does not mean, however, that there are a number of high quality and charming recordings among them, that can in a suitable way be introduced in a milonga when a simple beat and a relaxed style is needed.
1931–1935 — Late guardia nueva
When the financial crisis hit in 1929 and 1930, this had a serious effect on the production of records, with many companies going bankrupt and many younger performers, like Di Sarli, having to withdraw from recording. This period however led to a lot of innovation occurring behind the scenes, which would later fuel the evolution of the edad de oro. In the Late Guardia nueva we see an emphasis and influx of ideas stemming from a reevaluation of Argenting musical history having an effect on the scene, this leading to an increased emphasis on the vals and the mythical re-introduction of the milonga as a perceived historical origin of tango. Another important aspects of this period is the evolution of more complexities in terms of instrumentation and experiments with a faster tempo in tango. This is also a period when the quality of recording increases a lot, after the initial slump in quality in the beginning of the recession. For the DJ, therefore, the Late guardia nueva therefore involves a number of interesting innovations and music that can be used in an interesting way to give a twist to an otherwise traditional milonga.