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"Bicho Feo" or "Ugly Bug," was a humorous tango that often appeared toward the e

of Barrios's concert programs or as an encore piece that always "brought the hou
down", according to contemporary accounts. No manuscript of this piece has yet b
Interestingly, the term Bicho Feo has several meanings:
1) Literally, in Spanish, Ugly Bug , or Ugly Beast , or Ugly Creature.
2) It is also the common name of a species of bird in Argentina with a distincti
3-note call (which forms the theme of this piece).
3) It is also slang in Paraguay, and other parts of Latin America for Ugly guy, a
down-on-his luck kind of man, etc.
In a 2010 interview in Asuncion, Paraguay with Barrios scholar Richard Stover, t
hat I
recorded for the Classical Guitar Alive radio program, Stover related this story
regarding Bicho Feo from an elderly former guitar student of Barrios: Barrios had
just performed a concert, and overheard an audience member say, What a great
guitarist, but que un bicho feo! Barrios was not offended by the comment, but inst
was amused, and was then inspired to compose his own Bicho Feo, which became
one of his most popular early pieces.

In 1913-1914 Agustin Barrios Mangore recorded the piece on the Atlanta record la
In late 2008/early 2009 two 78 recordings were discovered by two respected Barri
scholars working independently, Richard Stover and Federico Sheppard, who both
generously donated their discoveries to the Cabildo Museum in Paraguay. One of t
recordings has since been reissued on Chanterelle Records.
This transcription was made from both recordings and is for educational purposes
I make no commercial claim on the music of Agustin Barrios Mangore. I first
performed "Bicho Feo" in a concert benefiting the Hospice Austin charity at Lagu
Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas on June 4, 2009, which was, to my knowledge,
modern-day premiere/first post-Barrios performance/USA premiere of the work. The
was a great deal of spontaneous laughter from that audience at that performance,
and I
hope that many, many more audiences and guitarists will equally enjoy it.
Tony Morris, Executive Producer, Classical Guitar Alive! radio program

Bicho Feo- tango humoristico

Musical notes regarding this transcription: "Bicho Feo" by Agustin Barrios

Mangore is an early Argentine-style tango in the key of A major. It is a rondo f
AABACADA(brief coda). Barrios proves himself to be a very thorough and
inventive composer, as the A sections are slightly different from each other. Th
characteristic humorous staccato portamento effect of the A theme changes as wel

In later appearances of the A theme, the portamento very deliberately slides to

an F
natural, which is a "wrong" note- I believe this is intentional, and for humorou
effect. The staccato portamento effect is very brief, and difficult to discern,
when playing the recordings at 25% tempo, it is very apparent that it is indeed
an F
natural. However, to the modern performer, this distinction may or may not matte
as the overall gesture is perhaps more important than a note which may not even
clearly perceived.
Technical notes regarding this transcription: This transcription was made in par
t by
using the Transcribe! software, available from, which allows t
user to play a recording at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% tempo without affecting the
pitch of the recording. Although the software cannot notate rhythms, it can do a
audio frequency analysis of a chord or other sonic event as brief as a milliseco
thereby displaying individual notes and notes in a chord. This is a very helpful
software, but it is not foolproof, as it sometimes "hears" the perfect fifth har
monic of
lower notes as an actual fundamental. Additionally, it should be noted that no
transcription based solely on an audio recording can guarantee 100 % accuracy. T
only ultimate authoritative source will be the composer's original manuscript, i
f one
ever surfaces. Nevertheless, a composer's recording is a valid document that can
used to deduce artistic intent.
Editorial notes regarding this transcription: I have attempted to notate what so
are actually present on the recordings, and not to attempt to notate what I thin
k the
composer might have intended. There are instances where voices in a melodic line
drop out, or chords are "missing" notes, such as seventh chords which may have a
tonic and a seventh, but no third or fifth. This is notated this way on purpose-
started with two assumptions: 1) That Barrios was a very competent composer who
knew what he wanted, 2) That Barrios was a very competent guitarist who probably
did not make very many errors on his recordings.
Essential, must-have resources for those serious about the music of Agustin Barr
"Six Silver Moonbeams" by Rico Stover, Querico Publications. Biography of Agusti
"El Inalcanzable" by Carlos Salcedo and others, Cabildo Museum, Asuncion,
Paraguay. The most recent Barrios biography and pictoral essay with scans and
"Agustin Barrios plays his own compositions and other works." CD box set
published by Chanterelle Verlag. Available at
In addition to all the names and organizations mentioned previously, special
thanks to Federico Sheppard for generously sharing his Barrios discoveries and
vast knowledge, Matanya Ophee for his expansive knowledge and expertise in the
subject of early tangos, composer Marian Budos for his music notation expertise,
Jose Lezcano for his truly amazing ears and knowledge of Latin American music,

John Hedger and Carlos Barrientos for their experience and expert help with the
intricacies of working with the Finale notation software, and David Russell for
first telling me in 2000 or 2001 the mysterious story of the long-lost famous
Barrios encore piece, "Bicho Feo."
Tony Morris, Executive Producer, Classical Guitar
Alive! radio program