Nueve Puntos, Pájaro Azul, and the Serie Sinfónica

Nueve Puntos

Carlos Di Sarli’s 1956 version of “Nueve Puntos” has long been a favorite of dancers at milongas. It’s signature Di Salri slow, smooth texture is great for an early milonga warm-up, or late at night for dancers in a romantic mood. Even Di Sarli’s 1943 version is somewhat slow and smooth.
Nueve Puntos
But what does “Nueve Puntos” (nine points) mean? There are no lyrics to provide any clues.

The best clue comes from the original sheet music cover (seen here). As we can see, “Nueve Puntos” was not originally Carlos Di Sarli’s work. It was composed by Francisco Canaro. The cover artwork also seems to indicate that it has something to do with street cars.

Francisco Canaro’s “Nueve Puntos”

The street cars in Buenos Aires used to have nine speed settings that the operator set with a lever (nueve puntos). The ninth setting, or point, was the fastest speed.

Shortly after the introduction of electric street cars, the phrase, “nueve puntos” became an idiom for, “Go fast,” or “as fast as you can go.”

Also notice on Canaro’s sheet music, that there is a bit of dark humor. It shows two people getting run over by street car #13 moving at top speed.

You would hardly know that this music was about the speeding street car by the tempo that Di Sarli played it. However, in Canaro’s version of “Nueve Puntos”, at about the 1:30 mark, you can hear the street car start to lose control…

The Story Does Not End There

Here’s a bit of weird history… Canaro, on more than one occasion, re-recorded songs under new titles to make a bit more money. “Nueve Puntos” was originally titled “Pájaro Azul” (Blue Bird) and Canaro recorded it in 1928. Now maybe that speeding street car sound seems more like a bird chirping frantically?

Canaro then recorded the same song again in 1943, but changed the title to “Nueve Puntos.” Canaro claimed he was dedicating the song to the new, modern electric street cars.

The original music was composed before Argentina had copyright protection for songs. As a side-note, Canaro played a hand in getting the government to enact laws protecting songwriters’ works. But while “Nueve Puntos” was registered in 1943, “Pájaro Azul” was not registered until November 29, 1963! Maybe Canaro thought registering “9 Puntos” was enough, and later registered “Pájaro Azul” just in case? Perhaps he forgot to register it, and then remembered to do it in 1963? Francisco Canaro died a little more than a year later, on December 14, 1964. Perhaps this final copyright was to leave more royalty income to his family by extending the copyright on both titles?

This leads to a confusing situation with public performances because “Nueve Puntos” would have entered the public domain in 1993, but now, due to more recent changes in Argentine copyright law, “Pájaro Azul” is protected by copyright until 2039!

See if you can hear a difference between “Nueve Puntos” and “Pájaro Azul” in the following recording. Note that there is a long rambling intro, and the song does not start until around 1:40; more on that next…

Long, Rambling Intros and “Serie Sinfónica”

You may be wondering what is up with that long, rambling opening that sounds like they accidentally recorded the orchestra doing a warm-up. This was a trend in the late 20’s to early 30’s. These works sometimes included goofy sound effects, and unusual instruments. Check out Orquesta Típica Brunswick’s version of “La Cumparsita.” It has an introduction that is over a minute long! The strange Theremin-like sound is someone playing a wood-saw with a violin bow

Canaro’s Serie Sinfónica Works

EntrerrianoWhere Canaro is concerned, from 1929 to 1933 he produced 28 recordings that were referred to as his “Serie Sinfónica” These were not meant to be dance pieces.

Most of these had the long, rambling introductions, although many digital transfers of these works have the introductions removed to make them more dance-able.

Here is the list of the songs in the series…

    • El Entrerriano (Tango)
      Recorded: April 22, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4262-A
    • La Cumparsita (Tango)
      Recorded: April 17, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4262-B
    • Felicia (Tango)
      Recorded: June 4, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4551-A
    • Yo Tuve Un Amorcito (Fox-Trot with Charlo singing)
      Recorded: June 4, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4551-B
    • Chiqué (Tango)
      Recorded: November 6, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4597-A
    • El Triunfo (Tango)
      Recorded: November 13, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4597-B
    • Pájaro Azul (Tango Fantasía)
      Recorded: December 17, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 40020-A
    • Corazon De Oro (Vals con Variación)
      Recorded: December 17, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 40020-B
    • La Tablada (Tango)
      Recorded: December 23, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4615-A
    • Nueve De Julio (Tango)
      Recorded: December 4, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4615-B
    • Don Juan (Tango)
      Recorded: August 2, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4569-A
    • La Morocha (Tango with Ada Falcón singing)
      Recorded: July 24, 1929
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4569-B
    • Sentimento Gaucho (Tango)
      Recorded: December 12, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4693-A
    • El Gavilan (Tango)
      Recorded: June 11, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4693-B
    • La Guitarrita (Tango)
      Recorded: June 24, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4651-A
    • Nobleza De Arrabal (Tango)
      Recorded: April 11, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4651-B
    • Alma De Bohemio (Tango)
      Recorded: September 5, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 40021-A
    • La Boleada (Vals)
      Recorded: September 5, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 40021-B
    • El Pollito (Tango)
      Recorded: September 5, 1931
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4735-A
    • Flor De Fango (Tango)
      Recorded: April 14, 1930
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4735-B
    • El Opio (Tango)
      Recorded: October 23, 1931
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4788-A
    • Inspiracion (Tango)
      Recorded: April 11, 1932
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4788-B
    • Halcon Negro (Tango Fantasía)
      Recorded: July 8, 1932
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4809-A
    • El Jardin Del Amor (Vals)
      Recorded: June 30, 1932
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4809-B
    • Ahi Va El Dulce (Tango Sinfónico)
      Recorded: September 29, 1932
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4827-A
    • Ojos Negros (Tango Sinfónico)
      Recorded:November 10, 1932
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4827-B
    • Pinta Brava (Tango Sinfónico)
      Recorded: May 12, 1933
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4868-B
    • El Chamuyo (Tango Sinfónico)
      Recorded: September 1, 1933
      Label: Odeon Disc: 4868-A