The Double bass through Tango music (Maria Alejandra Bejarano Salazar)

This work is about how to approach the Tango music for Double bass with German bow technique, because although nowadays double bass players had studied at conservatories and they have many technical tools from classical music, these players are purist about how it should be played and which bow you should use, so this research wants to demonstrate that is possible to play Tango songs in a Tango way with German bow.

The double bass arrived in Tango music early in the 20th century when orchestral formats became popular and ensembles with guitar and flute started to disappear. “The orchestras developed and were established according to two basic models: the sextet (piano, two bandoneons, two violins and double bass) and the octet (piano, three bandoneons, three violins and double bass). Both types would be the most common from now on [1]." (Benedetti, Hector Ángel) Nueva historia del Tango: de los origenes al siglo XXI; Buenos Aires; Siglo Ventiuno Editores; 2015. Although orchestras wanted more sound, the most important reason to included double bass was more rhythmical support.

While Tango music reached its golden age, and this music started to be more than popular music, the classical double bass started to have a great technique and interpretative development. All of this had a big influence in Tango double bass players, because they started to study double bass in a formal way and for that double bass as instrument began to have more leadership. So, Tango composers as Piazzolla or Troilo started to write solos in songs or solo pieces for double bass. Although some pieces as Kicho or Contrabajeando are famous, but on the other side almost all pieces are not played, as Poema en Gris or De tal palo.

It is very difficult to find information about Tango music for solo double bass on internet or books, because as Sergio Rivas[2] says in an interview Tango musicians did not know the importance of their own work[3]. But in recent years thanks to musicians as double bass players new and old Tango music of double bass has been recorded and has been broadcast.

An example of my interpretation of Poema en Gris - Horacio Cabarcos with German bow:


Benedetti, H. A. (2015) Nueva historia del Tango: de los origenes al siglo XXI, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Siglo Ventiuno Editores.

Todo Tango. ( accessed 2 Jan 2020.

Pagina 12. Cultura y espectaculos ( accessed 2 Jan 2020.

LaIslaDigital Channel. (2017, Jun, 19) Horacio Cabarcos, el contrabajista.

  1. Las orquestas se desarrollaron y quedaron establecidas según dos modelos básicos: el sexteto (piano, dos bandoneones, dos violines y contrabajo) y el octeto (piano, tres bandoneones, tres violines y contrabajo). Ambos tipos serían de aquí en mas los mas comunes. (Benedetti, Hector Ángel) Nueva historia del Tango: de los origenes al siglo XXI; Buenos Aires; Siglo Ventiuno Editores; 2015 ↩︎

  2. Sergio Rivas is a composer, arranger and double bass player, who in 2012 published a CD of Tango music of solo double bass with guitar. ↩︎

  3. Paraphrase (Cristian Vitale; Un recorrido por el contrabajo en el tango. Article from website Pagina 12; Accesed 2 Jan 2020.) ↩︎