An intro to Pugliese by Steve Gordon

Pugliese Blog, Jan. 24, 2019

Steven Gordon

            When you go to a milonga you will most likely hear Pugliese toward the end of the night.  People are more comfortable with each other, the space and romance is in the air. Pugliese’s music is intensely romantic, filled with melancholy, passion and longing. Some recordings that demonstrate these qualities are “Recuerdo” ( and “La Yumba” (  When you listen to these recordings you can hear both the strong walking beat typical of salon tango music and also the pauses, slight changes in tempo, and rich melodic orchestration associated more with concert hall tango music. Melodically, the string parts are complex and interact masterfully with the main melody. These counterpoint melodies give the dancer interesting alternatives to dance to aside from the dominant melody provided by the singer. Related to tempo, one aspect of Pugliese’s music that stands out is his use of the arrastre. ‘Arrastrar,’ meaning “to drag” allows Pugliese to express a sense of heart ache and desire, with the singer often singing behind the beat. In this recording of “Farol” you can hear the orchestra playing with and strong walking beat and the singer slightly dragging, creating that sense of sadness and pain. There are pauses followed by a momentum into the next musical phrase: As Makela has shared in class, when dancing to Pugliese it is important to feel the pauses at the end of certain phrases, and the crescendo into the next phrase. There is a rubato, a kind of compression, a pause, and then a release into the next phrase that is important to feel and time with the music. A suspension in the music. It’s in these small moments where there is great opportunity for subtle connection to the music and to the person you are dancing with.