John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer


Two to Tango

My original idea was to create something that could be played by one of the very active tango bands in the Ottawa region. To that end, I began working on tangos for solo guitar with the intent to transcribe them when finished. They quickly became too complex (“too many notes”) for solo guitar so I rearranged them for two guitars in the hope that they could actually be played!

Both pieces use the characteristic tango rhythm in a fairly straightforward way. Both are in ABA form with a quasi-improvised middle section.   Both are tonal — in E and A respectively — and harmonically, if not chordally, conceived.   The middle sections are the most challenging to the players: They are essentially imitative cadenzas involving virtuosic figurations with rapid and unsynchronized accelerandi. They should sound free, explosive and just a bit like dueling (Argentinean) banjos.

Two to Tango was given it’s premiere by John Armstrong and Garry Elliott on March 3, 2000 in the Freiman Recital Hall at the University of Ottawa. I never did rearrange it for Tango Band.

Composed in 1999 for two guitars
Duration: 9 minutes
Advanced Student/Very accessible
Published: Canadian Music Centre (Toronto)