Theoretical paper

Evolution and meanings of tango from a psychoanalytic perspective

Author: Lucia Mîrzan
Titu Maiorescu University, Bucharest, Romania

The tangos are generated on intense melancholic feelings cause by memories. Its lyrics are about the one who lost a plentiful experience but tries to transform this feeling of loss into something fulfilling. This idea of loss as fullness, apparently paradoxical, its present in the tango. Consequently it can be enjoyed with melancholy. This is the base message of the tango (Peri, 1981). The nature of the music to transcend words and dance offers a subtle transition (through the means of regression) to pre-verbal modes of psychological functioning. In the oldest psychic organization (pre-ego, pre-verbal), the archaic psychic mechanism tends to perceive sound as a direct threat and reacts reflexively through anxiety (Freud, 1952; Siegel, 1996). This early acoustic trauma can be relived with each musical experience, and with a chance of healing in the context of music and dance. Therefore the Argentinian tango offers this frame. The psychoanalyst and tango dancer Monica Peri states that “Through tango we return to the embrace of mother, and the sound of bandoneon are her heartbeats. It is the taste of paradise” (Peri, 1981).

Keywords: Tango, psychoanalysis, pre-verbal modes, ego, melancholy