Tango of the Car
“Tango del automóvil” (Tango of the car) is a 7-inch (17.78-centimeter) diameter disc, recorded on one side. On the back is the inscription "Reproduced in Hanover," where a large collection of Spanish master records by the Gramophone Company Limited was gathered. In his unpublished work The Gramophone Company Limited: His Master’s Voice: The Spanish Catalogue (Including Portuguese Recordings), Alan Kelly lists this disc as catalog number 2084 in the “Male solo voice records” category. According to Kelly, the recording was made by Charles Scheuplein, a professional associated with the French branch of the Gramophone Company. Recordings of this period turned at speeds ranging between 60 and 70 rpm. Technicians at the Biblioteca de Catalunya adjusted this one to a speed that sounded more natural; however, they had no access to the printed score nor to any other sample of the singer’s voice. In his Orígenes remotos del tango (The earliest roots of tango, 1996), Eduardo Giorlandini states that in 1850 some habaneras were known as tangos. They were passed on from generation to generation by oral tradition. The invention of the phonograph and the increased mobility that came with the introduction of the railways led to their increased popularity. “Tango del automóvil” was probably one such tango. The tenor could be Rafael Gil, who was born in Cádiz, was active between 1900 and 1915, and made six recordings in Barcelona. A Rafael Gil is mentioned by Emilio Casares Rodicio in his Diccionario de la Zarzuela, and the singer heard here is thus perhaps the same tenor who performed in 1905 and 1906 in Mexico, where he sang the zarzuela San Juan de Luz. The Biblioteca de Catalunya bought this recording in April 2008, together with other audio, video, posters, sheet music, and documents, from the late Catalan collector Francesc Arellano.
Gramophone Company Limited, Hanover, Germany
Title in Original Language
Tango del automóvil
Type of Item
1 disc : 68 rotations per minute ; 15 centimeters
- Emilio Casares Rodicio, general editor, Diccionario de la Zarzuela, volume 2, España e Hispanoamérica (Madrid: Instituto complutense de ciencias musicales, 2003).
Last updated: January 13, 2015