Piazzolla – Milonga Sin Palabras

by Max Derrickson

Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla
(Born in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1921; died in Buenos Aires in 1992)

Milonga Sin Palabras
From the time Argentinian-born Ástor Piazzolla was given the large keyboard accordion known as a bandoneón (a Christmas present from his father – he’d asked for skates) at around the age of eight, until his death, Piazzolla was irretrievably drawn into the world of the tango.  He became famous for his “Nuevo tango” in the 1960’s, a reinvigoration of Argentina’s “national” music that he derived from his formula of “tango + tragedy + comedy + whorehouse.”  Though Piazzolla’s large output [. . .] hometown of Mar del Plata to investigate its famous folksong and dance, the milonga.

The milonga had become popular in the 1870’s, growing out of a wonderful folk tradition called payada de contrapunto, a several hour to several day competition between two payadors (singers), who exchanged dueling verse to each other’s questions of life [. . .]  Piazzolla composed his Milonga Sin Palabras (“milonga without words”) for his wife [. . .]  again treats an old form through the filters of newer [. . .] yet its gentle lyricism adding [. . .] be returning to this old form, heard through the ears of ghosts[. . .].