Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Big 5 Orchestras: a global view

A survey matures...
Tango Tecnia worldwide annual survey of the attitudes and preferences of the tangueros had substantially widened its reach in its second year. In 2014, the survey was only available in Spanish, and its audience in North American continent was pretty much limited to ... Mexico, while in Europe, it largely probed the opinions in Spain (with a smaller number of responses from France and Italy). In comparison, in 2015, an English language version of the survey brought many more countries into play, despite a poor quality of English translation.
In 2014 nearly half of the 1282 survey-takers were Argentinian, but only 25 people from the English-speaking countries responded. But in 2015, less than a third of the 2229 participants were from Argentina; this time, 283 Americans and Canadians, 116 Britons, and 29 from Australia and New Zealand responded. Germany has become strongly represented, along with many more Northern, Central and Eastern European nations.
Tango Tecnia 2015 Survey respondents. In my representation, "other Anglo countries" are Ireland, Canada,
Australia, NZ, and South Africa. I included Russia and Israel in "Other European" category.
The age group appeal of the survey widened too. In 2014, tangueros in their 20s and 30s predominated, and the average age of the survery-takers was only 40. In 2015, the share of people in their 20s and 30s dropped to 40%, and the average age increased to 45.

Of course like any Internet survey, it's subject to biases of self-selection ... basically only people who care about its questions would chime in. But when we discuss the tango orchestras and their significance, it's kind of OK to draw some conclusions from the opinions of those who care.

This isn't a full list of the ingredients of a "balanced meal of a milonga" like we saw in Weigel's survey. Here we see the orchestras which make the tangueros eager to dance, the ones which they gratefully remember dancing to.

One pet peeve: in 2015, the survey-designers simply forgot to include Edgardo Donato on the list! (It ranked #12 in 2014).

World's 5 orchestra favorites, and the runners-up

D'Arienzo ~ Di Sarli > Pugliese > Canaro ~ Troilo led the pack (statistically speaking, D'Arienzo and Di Sarli with their 75% and 73% favorability rating weren't significantly different, as were Canaro and Troilo with their 61% and 60% favorability). This actually marks the first time in my research when the elusive Big 5 have been defined with statistical significance (all 5 were significantly ahead of the next  runner-up, Calo). An increased study size makes all the difference!

D'Arienzo and Di Sarli were the winners across the spectrum of ages, gender roles, and geographical locations, while Pugliese was somewhat less favored in the US (where it was rated the 5th).

Troilo was more favored in Argentina, but not significantly so (64% vs. 58%, p-value = 0.02, too high in this multiple-testing scenario).

But Francisco Canaro offered a stark example of regional and cultural differences. It topped the popularity chart in the UK, but wasn't even in the top 5 in Argentina! (the first one of a long list of orchestras which ranked far lower in Argentina than in the rest of the world).
Overall, favorability of Canaro outside Argentina was 68%, compared with only 51% in Argentina. The difference was extremely significant (p-value 0.000000).

#6 Calo was significantly ahead of #7 Biagi. Calo was universally popular (but most of all in Colombia and Venezuela)

#7 Biagi was in statistical dead heat with #8 Fresedo, but significantly ahead of #9 De Angelis. Biagi was universally popular (but least of all in Argentina, albeit with only marginal significance)

Fresedo, De Angelis, and #10 Tanturi were roughly statistically equivalent, but significantly ahead of the #11, D'Agostino. Fresedo came in the top 5 in France, Italy, Germany, but was less popular in Argentina. De Angelis was in the top 5 in Colombia and Uruguay. Tanturi was more popular with older people, and made the top 5 in Brazil.
Worldwide favorability rating of the top 10 tango orchestras

A few more assorted observations which probably don't reach statistical significance, but still sound intriguing.

#11 D'Agostino made the top 5 in the UK
#12 Laurenz was more popular with the older people, in Germany, in France.
#13 Sexteto Milonguero was in the top 5 in Chile and Brazil, unknown in the US
#15 Demare was less popular in Argentina, with marginal statistical significance
#16 Orquesta Tipica Victor - older people's orchestra; top 5 in Sweden; significantly less favored in Argentina. Ditto Lomuto.
#17 Enrique Rodriguez ranked poorly in Argentina and Mexico
#18 De Caro ranked worse in Europe and the US; Varela also fared poorly in the US, as did more modern bands such as Los Reyes del Tango, Orquesta Sans Souci, Esteban Morgado, and Herederos del Compas
#19 Color Tango ranked high in Latin America; so did Bajofondo, Hugo Diaz, Otros Aires, and Sexteto Mayor ... but with a marked exception for Argentina.
#32 Donato Racciatti unsurprisingly fared the best in Uruguay, but is also significantly more appreciated in Argentina than in the rest of the world.
#56 Juan Maglio Pacho was popular in France and Italy, they must have gained access to his better quality records unavailable to us?

Argentina is a world apart

Time and time again, an orchestra would show dramatically lower ranking in Argentina than abroad. Many of these cases involved contemporary bands which may be less known outside Argentina, so their ratings were available only from a handful of foreign locales. At first it was bewildering to see how a band gets most of its votes from Argentinians, only to rank the lowest in Argentine in comparison to other countries. Especially considering that Argentine vs foreign survey-takers "liked", on average, about the same number of orchestras (approx. 13), and that the rank-frequency plots inside and outside Argentina were pretty much indistinguishable. As it happens, the issue with the smaller contemporary bands turned out to be an artifact of Tango Tecnia's analysis methodology (where they excluded countries and regions with zero votes, and used the highest ranks for all orchestras which had the same number of votes in a country, thus dramatically inflating rankings of lesser orchestras in smaller countries).

But there are also major classic orchestras which the foreigners appreciate much more than Argentines. Note that all of them are associated with the early Golden Age / pre-Golden Age culture.

First and foremost, it's Francisco Canaro, already discussed above (51% in Argentina vs. 68% outside, p-value 0.000000)
Not surprisingly, Canaro's close associate Lomuto is in a similar situation (16% in Argentina vs. 27% outside, p-value 0.000000) (Incidentally we've just discused how neither Canaro nor Lomuto are ever played for the Tango Mundial in BsAs)
The difference in favorability is even stronger for OTV (15% in Argentina vs. 34% outside, p-value 0.000000)

Less prominent early-age orchestras show a similar pattern:

Firpo (10% in Argentina vs. 17% outside, p-value 0.000066)
Carabelli (5% in Argentina vs. 13% outside, p-value 0.000001)
Rafael Canaro (8% in Argentina vs. 14% outside, p-value 0.001340)

On the contrary, several later-period and contemporary bands were significantly better appreciated in Argentina:

Los Reyes del Tango (23% in Argentina vs. 10% outside, p-value 0.000000)
Orquesta Sans Souci (18% in Argentina vs. 9% outside, p-value 0.000000)
Gobbi (22% in Argentina vs. 12% outside, p-value 0.000000)
Salgan (14% in Argentina vs. 9% outside, p-value 0.002)
Racciatti (18% in Argentina vs. 11% outside, p-value 0.0002)

My guess is that even within the orchestras which foreigners and Argentinians love equally well, the latter may be biased in favor of late Golden Age and post-Golden Age records...

Followers' heaven, leaders' hell??

A number of contemporary bands had much higher favorability rating with the females. Amores Tangos, Bajofondo, Otros Aires, Gotan Project, Almagro, El Afronte, El Cachivache, Ojos de Tango. So did Piazzolla. Are these orchestras united by the pain they cause to the leaders? Please cue me in!

Poema dethroned?

Tango Tecnia survey also offered an opportunity to rate about 40 music titles (not specific records but just titles, often played by different orchestras, sometimes multiple times even by the same orchestra like Hotel Victoria or La Cumparsita). It was probably an unsophisticated  survey-writer's personal list of favorites. Whatever, I can still enjoy the fact that last year's winner, Poema, has been dethroned this year (and lost 1/3rd of its past popularity??). So did Recuerdo. On the contrary, Los Vino and Pollo Ricardo doubled their popularity. But I don't remember the survey's methodology, and can't quite figure out what to make out of its results.

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