"Milonga is an excited habanera." The original habanera divided into four pulses, in a standard two-four where every note was stressed. In becoming milonga, though, all four notes turned strong, as tempo was doubled. The strength of the first beat weakened the fourth giving an almost waltz-like feel to milonga: one-two-three(four), one-two-three(four). Habanera is a slower, more explicit sounding one, two, three-four. At least one modern tango pianist believes the polka influenced the speeding up of the milonga.
Milonga has a syncopated beat, consisting of 8 beats with accents on the 1st (sometimes also 2nd), 4th, 5th, and 7th beats.
- Regular 2
 2 3 4  6 7 8
 2 3   6  8, sometimes also   3   6  8
Over time, dance steps and other musical influences were added, eventually contributing to the rise of tango.
By the 1890s musicians were writing in a structured form that was something more than thinly disguised milongas or tangos andaluces, and would later become the fully developed tango.
Uruguayan and Argentine artists known for their milonga compositions and interpretations include Roberto Firpo, Angel D'Agostino, Pedro Laurenz, Villoldo, Francisco Canaro, Rodolfo Biagi, Juan d'Arienzo, Edgardo Donato, Gabino Ezeiza, Aníbal Troilo, Lucio Demare, Domingo Federico, Angel Vargas, Mariano Mores, Alfredo Zitarrosa, Francisco Lomuto, Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Di Sarli. These artists are from the early years and the Golden era of tango. Los Moonlights released a song entitled "Milonga de pelo largo" (Milonga of long hair) on their debut LP, Moonlights.
In Rio Grande do Sul, milonga is an important regional genre and it is part of the repertoire of many gaucho musical groups and interpreters. It also continues to influence other genres of the modern gaucho music. José Cláudio Machado's "Milonga Abaixo de Mau Tempo", Renato Borghetti's "Milonga para as Missões" and Jayme Caetano Braun's "Bochincho" are examples of the traditional rio-grandense form of milonga, while Vitor Ramil's "Ramilonga" and Bebeto Alves's "Milonga Orientao" are examples of modern form of this genre.
Argentine composer and pianist Fernando Otero has based many of his orchestral and chamber works on this rhythm  ,creating compositions for Symphonic Orchestra, String Quartet and Jazz Combos.
- Andressa Nathanailidis (2016-03-18). "Milonga: o poema e a música na tradição gaúcha". Terra da Música (in Portuguese).
- Mateus Rosa (2019-04-18). "A história da milonga". Repórter Riograndense (in Portuguese).
- Robert Thompson. "Tango the Art History of Love" page 129
- Tango! The Dance, the Song, the Story. Collier, Cooper, Azzi and Martin. 1995. Thames and Hudson, Ltd, p. 51. ISBN 0-500-01671-2.
- Guilherme Cruz (January 2013). "Do frio para o mundo: a estética da música platina". Obvious Mag (in Portuguese).
- Sherrie Rase (March 2013). "Fernando Otero's "Romance" CD". qonstage.com. Archived from the original on 2015-01-04.
- Frank J. Oteri (2013-03-12). "Sounds Heard: Fernando Otero —Romance". NewMusicBox.
- Michael Hill. "About Fernando Otero". Nonesuch Records. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- Scott Albin (2007-03-11). "Jazz Reviews: Funk Tango Paquito D'Rivera Quintet -By Scott Albin-Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. Archived from the original on 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2015-02-25.