A Snake Tango Tale

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A Snake Tango Tale is a whimsical, expressive storytelling song. A charming snake and his girlfriend, Esmerelda, go out for an evening of dinner and dancing. With his black tuxedo and her sequined ball gown, they are a stunning pair as they dance the Tango. They enjoy their dancing and dining, and then they go home “to soak their aching feet.”

The melody of this song is supported by a tango-flavoured accompaniment. Students love the charm of this delightful story and the opportunity to sing expressively.

A Snake Tango Tale is included in the Royal Conservatory of Music “Complete Repertoire” exam song list.  (Level 2, List B)

Listen to the Donna & Andy performance track:

Download Includes:

  • Vocal score
  • Director/piano score
  • Lyrics
  • Accompaniment – with melody guide
  • Accompaniment – piano
  • Bonus: Donna & Andy band – instrumental track
  • Bonus: Donna & Andy – performance track

A Snake Tango Tale

Audio & Lyrics

Part of a Song Collection

A Snake Tango Tale is one of 10 songs from the Donna & Andy CD  "A Jolly Bunch Are We". This CD is also available in the "Top of the Class" membership. Enjoy!

Teaching Tips

Expressive Singing

  • Discuss how the use of dynamics or emphasized diction can assist in the expressive singing of this song.
  • Practice clear diction by speaking a few tongue twisters for a warm-up. Find tongue twisters that require strong and accented consonants.
    e.g.  - The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.
           - Twelve turtles take turns twirling.
           - Twenty-two turtles tiptoe between the tulips
           - Eat your cake, clean the plate
  • Sing with crisp consonants in the verses and legato, melodic phrases in the choruses to create contrast and interest for the listener.
  • The mood of this story is upbeat and expresses the joy the snakes experience when doing things they love, like dancing and dining out.

Discuss the Text

  • Maitre d'
  • tuxedo
  • sequins
  • hardwood

Research

An Argentinian Tango is mentioned in the lyrics but there are other types of tango's as well. Find a video sample to watch. Can you imagine two snakes doing this dance?

Colouring Page - Free download

Download (pdf), print and have fun colouring this page while you listen to the song A Snake Tango Tale. Enjoy 35 more colouring pages when you get a "Top of the Class" Donna & Andy Membership

Snake Tango Tale - Song by Donna Rhodenizer - Colouring Page - artwork by Richard Bennett (2)
Snake Tango Tale - Song by Donna Rhodenizer - Colouring Page - artwork by Richard Bennett

Composers Notes

A Snake Tango Tale

I like to think about things in ways that might be considered to be outside the box. I like to explore ideas that have a bit of a twist from the normal way of thinking. These are great things to develop when writing song lyrics. How can a story/song be created in a way that causes the listener to pause, to think, or to laugh? Animals can often be used to create lyrics that are fun – particularly when the animals do things usually only thought of as human activities. To go one step further, perhaps the animals are doing something that is contradictory to their nature. I think a song about an owl who is afraid of the dark could be fun. Or perhaps a fish who doesn’t like to swim would make a good song.

For some reason, I started thinking about snakes dancing.  Who knows why these thoughts randomly pop up? I am not someone who likes snakes, so I am not sure why a snake entered my thought processes at all! In order to make a snake song work for me, my snake had to be charming and not at all reptile-like in his behaviour or his presentation. What if the snake were a ballroom dancer doing a tango? The title “A Snake Tango Tale” had a good feel to it and I liked the idea of the play on words between the “tale” and the “tail” of the snake.  Ah yes, a song was starting to formulate. I grabbed some paper….

I decided my charming snake would like to go out for dinner and dancing and he would love to tango. When he called his girlfriend, it was Esmerelda who showed up. I wasn’t necessarily expecting her, but that is how some songs roll. Authors often talk about characters that seem to evolve on their own, outside the efforts of the writer. When I wrote, “He called his girlfriend,” the name Esmerelda fit into the music just at the right spot, and there she was! Of course it was crucial that she also loved to tango, so I got to decide that for her.

I had fun imagining their arrival at the restaurant – a fancy establishment with a maître d’ who took their coats and  helped them get seated. There are several types of tango and I watched a few ballroom dancing videos to decide which type of tango my snakes would be dancing. Research is a very important part of the writing process, providing details that develop a thought or a plot that shapes the song. My research helped me determine that the Argentinian Tango was best suited to my dancing snakes. This tango involves close body contact at all times (helpful if the dancer has a single “leg” on which to balance) and we were off! The tango style of the music was part of the writing process and helped establish the feel of the melody line with its syncopated rhythms and sustained notes.

To be certain that the singer/listener knows that we are in a classy establishment, there is reference to “his black tuxedo and the sequins on her ball gown”. Plus, they are dancing on a hardwood floor. There are not many dance venues in my area, and the ones that offer a hardwood dance surface are in high demand from ballroom dancers. I have been at a few ballroom dances and I can vouch for how wonderful it is to dance on a hardwood floor.

As I worked on my tango tale, I imagined how humans would have tired feet after an evening of dancing so I applied that to my snakes. It made me laugh to think of these two snakes going home to “soak their aching feet” so I included that as a bit of a joke in the song.

The art for this song was also a joy to create. Richard Bennett, a music teaching colleague of mine, has loved to doodle and draw since he was a teenager. We contacted him to do artwork for us and it has proved to be a fun and rewarding collaboration. (You will see many of his pieces of art sprinkled throughout my published music). Richard was very patient as we talked through options: A snake with feet? A snake dancing without feet? I also was very sure I wanted my snakes NOT to be slimy reptiles, but rather, elegant dancers. We searched for samples of ballroom dancers, tango costumes, dress styles, and hair styles. There is a lot of research to be done when writing a song and/or creating art! I am delighted with the end results.

Some of the art process

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Vocal Range

D4 – D5

Voicing

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