Eloisa D’Herbil de Silva She can be considered the first woman tango composer, and perhaps she was also the one who composed the first known tangos, those of popular diffusion, as revealed by the renowned musicologist Napoleón Cabrera, in an article published in the Clarin newspaper, in 1991. She attributes the music of “the maco”, “The fine”, “The gueco” (from 1876), and “Hey, don’t heat up”. This pianist born in Spain, but living in our country for 75 years of the 101 that her life lasted, she also put lyrics to some of her compositions, such as “I am the blonde”a response to the tango “La morocha” by Angel Villoldo and Enrique Saborido.
Within the saga of the women who invented the job of national songwriter, in the first decades of the 20th century, we know that the voice of Rosita Quiroga is unforgettable, and that it spread more than 200 recordings of different composers, when the 20’s were running, but not enough is known about her facet as a composer and author. The tango “Listen, Negro”with music and lyrics by her, testifies that indeed, it was.
A Lily Maizanianother of our pioneering female singers, can be remembered on stage in masculine clothing, the typical suit of the compadre, or of the gaucho criollo, and for her malevo-style repertoire, but it is worth noting that she also composed music and lyrics for tangos like “Far from my land”there where it said “Through the paths of the world / I walk my anxiety / carrying deep / of my soul, loneliness.”
A Mercedes Simone, “the lady of tango” (before the title passed to Beba Bidart), who conquered a huge audience from the radio with her singing style, it is also fair to remember her as a composer and author of “Viejo Anguila”.
Of Tita Merello so many things were said, but not so many about her condition as the author of the wonderful “Llamarada pasional”, “Tell me God where you are” and “I sing tango like this”.
Of Liberty Lamarques It is impossible to forget her light soprana voice, the magnetism that radiated from the movie screen, and her non-suburb repertoire, of which we can underline that “Almost like playing” was composed and written by her.
Maruja Pacheco Huergo he nourished tango with many compositions, such as “El adiós”, “Dos Almas”, “Melancolía”, “Alas rotas”, “Sinfonía de arrabal”, “Muchachita Buena”, among many others; Rosita Melo, who was born in Uruguay but he lived in our country since he was 3 years old, he composed the music for the endearing waltz “From the soul”.
Nelly Omarthe beloved national singer, left an artistic legacy in which, among other treasures, such as her unique voice and her personality, are her compositions: for example, the waltz in homage to her people entitled “A Guaminí”.
And of course Eladia Blazquez gave a chair in the art of composing, and more than that: “Is the ability to feel and express the city and our people an exclusively male privilege?”, he stated in his book “My city and my people” when the 70’s.
21st century tango dancers
Women composers have been great protagonists throughout the history of tango, even though historiography has not assigned them that place. Recently, the authors Soledad Venegas and Julia Winokur have published a valuable songbook entitled “Women tango composers. From the beginning to the present”with a prologue by Mercedes Liska, which compiles the musical creations of tango women, and thus reveals a genealogy, made up in part of the artists we have just mentioned, but also of many others such as paquita bernardIsolina Di Giovan Battista, Adela Tripoli, Maria Isolina Godard, Mary White, Herminia Velich, Marta Pizzo
In their introduction, the authors state that it seems that in the entire history of tango there had been practically no female composers or directors. Even at first glance, it seems that (save for a few exceptional personalities) these figures are beginning to emerge as a novelty with fourth wave feminism
The truth is that they always were. And of course, they still are.
In the first two decades of the 21st centurySoledad Venegas and Julia Winokur point out, with the growing notoriety and expansion of feminist movements and demands related to gender issues, they began to circulate, in universities and conservatories, but also in milongas, festivals and orchestras, a series of ideas and questions that moved the board of certainties and prejudices of tango and the academy. And a new generation of composers and lyricists began to create the soundtrack for these changes.
Just go through the pages of Vanina Steiner’s book “A woman’s gaze: the 21st century lyricists”which compiles songs by 36 authors, mostly also composers and performers, in order to fully measure the contribution that women and diversities have made to our popular music, through pure reflection and combative force from social denunciation.
Such is the case of the group tangueadorasmade up of eight multi-award-winning singer-songwriters and composers with several albums released, who not only seek to deconstruct the historical patriarchal matrix of tango through their songs, but also provide a space for interpretive exchange where they put their talent at the service of circulating those songs that, because they are women, do not usually sound in other voices.
One of them is pamela victoriano who, in addition to being a violinist and arranger, directs The Empoweredatypical orchestra formed by 26 lesbian, trans and non-binary womenwith whom he is recording the first album with compositions by women and dissidences of current tango.
Claudia Levy, singer, pianist and composer, contributes from her lyrics new themes for the genre, such is the case of “I was told”a tango that he composed more than 20 years ago, where he portrays a beater who is denounced by his wife:
“Don’t play the poor guy / because we all already know / that you don’t give a damn / if you do wrong or if you do right / That the mine you were crying / dragged through the streets / you beat her up seven times / and mistreated her one hundred”.
The pianist and composer Veronica Bellinialso writes about gender violence in his tango “Not one less”:
“You know, I feel sorry for you because they taught you / everything upside down, everything wrong / you confuse violence with virility / you confuse patience with weakness”.
Andrea Bollof, singer of the trio Como Tres Extrañas, has more than 50 registered works to his credit; among them, the touching “Mate for three” which reminds us of that shadow in the garden that Eladia Blázquez told us about with her heart facing south:
“When everything gets complicated / when everything is upside down / I go back to that kitchen for a while / and to yesterday’s mates.”
Marina Baigorria, singer of the group La Biyuyalyricist and composer, describes without euphemisms in her song “Buenosairece” what is that famous “what do I know” that Buenos Aires has:
“He fires violence, exploits demands / He gets close to death on any sidewalk / He covers himself with fears, he drowns in his debts / He insults, he spits, he strives and he climbs.”
Gisela Magri He moves with his own productions such as “Ir a cero”, “Yo no puede ni dice”, “La de Seguí” and “Después del giro” that shine on his recent third album between versions of classic tangos and others from the contemporary repertoire.
Bárbara Grabinski, singer, lyricist, and cultural manager at Club Social Cambalacheone of the spaces that houses the current movement, in its milonga “Bien Oeste” takes us away from Buenos Aires centralism and takes us to the suburbs through the neighborhood of his childhood:
”West that you forged for me / on that austere street / Silence of a bitter afternoon / of a girl, a good slut”.
Cynthia Wheatsinger, lyricist and composer, brings jewels such as the heartbreaking “Pendeja” that, as it is pointed out in the aforementioned book “Mirada de mujer”, immediately refers us to “Chiquilín de Bachín”; But, if that little angel with blue jeans already hurt us, what to say about this little girl who begs on the subway and who lets us see in her womb “a dumb cry for being born”. Cintia makes poverty and child abuse visible with poetry.
More female composers as Bárbara Aguirre, Cintia Barrionuevo, Marcela Bublik, Belén Canestrari, Delfina Daverio, María José Demare, Victoria Di Raimondo, Natalí Di Vicenzo, Eva Fiori, Mijal Guinguis, Natalia Lagos, Juliana Manoukian, Katherina Mansilla, Elbi Olalla, Marta Pizzo, Nelli Saporitti, Regina Satz, Ana Sofía Stamponi, Marisa Vázquez, Beatriz Villar, María Volonté, Noelia Sinkunas and Julia Winkour.
And more lyricists: Bibi Albert, Luz Balaña, Coni Banús, Patricia Barone, Vanina Steiner, among many others, are part of a tide that is worth discovering drop by drop.
“It’s raining women”, Cintia Trigo sings, “it’s raining gurisas, they say it’s not going to stop. The laughs are raining, they are no longer going to kill.