There are 4 rhythms within the Argentine Tango which are all danced in a typical evening of Tango dancing, (called a milonga). All these rhythms are found within the styles of Canyengue, Milonguero, Tango Salon and Nuevo.
The Tango rhythm
The rhythm of Tango depends on the year of the orchestras being played but Tango is one of the slowest rhythms in the Tango style. It is written in 2 bars of 4 but mostly the accentuation is on 'one'. Tango within the Milonguero style would be very staccato and rhythmic, whereas Tango within the Tango Salon style would be more expansive with more emphasis on the melody.
The Vals rhythm
Vals crusado is essentially like the European Waltz in the structure. It is written in 2 bars of 3 and in sound is possibly more fluent depending on the orchestra. For example a vals in the style of D'Arienzo could be very fast and staccato, whereas a vals in the style of Pugliese is more expansive and lyrical.
The Milonga rhythm
The milonga is a variation of folk dancing and was one of the earliest rhythms of Tango. Originally it was a slow rhythm but over time it developed into the fastest rhythm of Tango. It has the same structure of Tango but is written differently. One bar is syncopated and one bar is accentuated. Rhythmically, the milonga is generally the fastest rhythm and plays with timings. Milonga therefore has 2 timings Milonga Lisa, (simple) and Milonga con Traspie, (syncopated/double time).
Tango Foxtrot rhythm
The foxtrot rhythm is also in 2 bars of 4, it was the least important in the era of tango but it was very popular because they danced this style in the breaks, (curtains) between the main dancing tandas, (3 or 4 tracks of Tango), that were played at a typical dance, (milonga).
Don't get confused with the word 'milonga'! In one sense it means a place where people meet to dance Tango and in another it describes a rhythm of Tango - the Milonga.
©2016-All material copyright of Leonardo Acosta and Tracey Tyack-King : Tango Fandango, The London Argentine Tango School, 2Tango.