What makes this dance recognizable? What is typical, distinctive or characteristic?

Looks like some Argentine Tango but, like the music, playful and lively.


Dance me to the end of love - Leonard Cohen
Milonga del Angel - Astor Piazzolla
Milonga Triste (& Milonga Sentimental) - S. Piana


Also about the origin of the name opinions vary, although most rely on the assumption that it is derived from the word Mulonga, in Kimbundu, a dialect of the African Bantu. It would mean something like "argue", "quarrel", but also "persuade and convince."

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According to Wilkes y Guerrero it would be a combination of "Melos" (melody) and "longa" (long) derived from the extensive narrative and long verses that are typical for the milonga.

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Milonga is an Argentine, Uruguayan, and Southern Brazilian form of music and dance style. The name is also (still) used to denote occasions where tango and milonga is danced. A tanda is a rotation in a milonga, but especially a group (3 to 5) in atmosphere mating songs. That could be four tangos, or three milongas,, or three or four valses.
Or a combination as TTVTTM. Between tandas a cortina is played (Spanish for curtain), a short musical break.

The milonga (as dance) is roughly divided into the milonga campera (rural) and Milonga Urbana (city). From the latter, the tango originated. Some modern milongas, often instrumental, for example Ástor Piazzolla, are written in the style of the milonga campera, but have their own melancholic character and are known worldwide.


To the origin of the milonga a lot of research is done. This shows on the one hand an Angolan African descent and the other a Spanish Catalan origin.

According to the Argentine ethnomusicologist Quintin Quintana milonga was an interpretation of the candombe as played by the Negroes who lived on the land in Brazil in the 18th century. The first performances by the gauchos (kind of South American cowboys) were played on vihuelas and later on guitar. The gauchos spread of mid - Brazil to Patagonia in southern Argentina. They brought also the milonga everywhere. This milonga was in various areas known with names like; chamarrita in Entre Ríos, or elsewhere ponto, baiao, coco, forró, Lundu, samba de roda, choro, etc. in Brazil. In Paraguay it was rasguido doble and takirari in Bolivia. Late 19th century, the milonga was (besides the cifra and estilo) popular among payadores (singers), who moved to the major cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

According to others the songs and dances originate already of the Spanish Andalucia.

Development from the end of the 19th century

The Payadores

Payadores are poets / singers who sing in verse form spontaneously and improvising their story. They accompany themselves on guitar. It is as it were the troubadours, minstrels and bards of Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. The guidance vihuela, and later on guitar, was simple, the melody monotonous and repetitive. The most commonly used styles were the Cifra, the Estilo and from the late 19th century the Milonga.

The Cifra

The style of the Cifra consisted of singing mostly ten lines of epic poems. The melodies are based heavily on syllables. Some parts are not sung but recited.

The Estilo

According Ayestaran is this the lyrical form that is most adapted to life in the countryside. He is sometimes called "trist " (sad), or decim " (ten lines). The shape is based on a rhythm of 3 +3 +2. It starts with an instrumental prelude, also called "punteo". Then the three parts "estilo", "Cielito" and "the final estilo".

The Milonga

The milonga is the style in which the end of the 19th century is sung most. According to the Argentine payador and writer Nemesio Trejo is singing introduced in this style in 1884 by Gabino Ezeiza, one of the most famous Argentine payadores. Originally sung in major tonalities. This was gradually replaced by minor. The payadores also developed an increasingly personal style.

In summary, one can say for these three different styles: there is a pre-Columbian influence in the estilo, one Spanish in cifra and one African in the milonga (source: La Agenda de los Payadores - Suint Marta y José Curbelo).

Milonga Urbana campera to the milonga and tango

Around 1880, Argentina launched a new law, the "Conquista del Desierto". This made it possible for landlords to appropriate large tracts of land and place and place fences. Many "nomadic" gauchos were thus forced to withdraw to the big city. There they ended up in the poor slums of Buenos Aires, in the African- Argentine population living there, and poor immigrants from Europe. Also in neighboring Montevideo in Uruguay, one saw an invasion of poor European immigrants and gauchos. Along with the black and locals they lived in the conventillos, the poor neighborhoods of the city. In both cities, the gauchos (in the city also compadritos) and European immigrants, began echoing the black population, with dancing in the streets and dance venues witch were called tambos or tangos. However compadritos danced more embraces, close together, while the black population maintained more distance between each other.

The music, originally played on mostly guitar, flute and violin, was adapted to the dance. The mixing of the milonga campera, European habanera and the dances of the black population, became Milonga Urbana and later the tango. Which arose later again of this milonga. Characteristic elements of the milonga campera are clearly still present in the first tangos. In the early 20th century they were also known as tango milonga or milonga urbana. A good example is one of the first tangos "El Choclo" by Angel Villoldo.

From about 1920 is the beginning of the Guardia Nueva period. In the development of the tango, one sees more and more differences between the milonga tango one hand and on the other hanmilonga campera d. The latter was often simply called milonga (or milonga urbana).

The dance as well as the music of the tango developed from that period independently in their own style that is now called tango.

An important contribution to the development of the milonga urbana is undoubtedly the "Milonga Sentimental " (1932), from Sebastián Piana, with a text by Homero Manzi and a richer harmony, melody and rhythm.

Many tango composers followed this exemple with milongas such as La Trampera (A. Troilo), Nocturna (J.Plaza), La Puñalada (P. Castellanos) and Taquito Militar (M. Mores).

The confusion over the use of the name milonga (campera or urbana) is increased when tango composers Sebastián Piana and Ástor Piazzolla write milongas in the style of the milonga campera, with slow tempos and melancholic as the Milonga Triste (Piana) and Milonga del Angel (Piazzolla).

In summary, one can say that the milonga can be nowadays divided in milonga campera and milonga urbana. The first is usually slowly, with relatively simple harmonies, as an accompaniment of singing and no dancing. And milonga urbana usually has fast tempos, is instrumental or vocal, and it is danced.

Overview of some famous artists milonga

Milonga campera: Gabino Ezeiza (1858-1916), Juan Pedro López (1885-1945), José Bettinot i (1878-1915) and Atahualpa Yupanqui (1908-1992)

Milonga Urbana: Angel Villoldo, Francisco Canaro, Astor Piazzolla, Julián Plaza, Horacio Salgan, Carlos Di Sarli, Juan D. Arienzo, Aníbal Troilo, Julio De Caro, Sebastián Piana, Edmundo Rivero, Mariano Mores, Pedro Laurenz.

As dance is Milonga the precursor of the Tango. He looks faster and jumpy, because there is usually ever danced with little steps through without breaks. The rhythm of the Milonga music is fast. The attitude and basic steps are basically the same as normal Argentine tango. The moves are less complex (because it is faster you have no time for this).