Tagged: musicality

Why we must be able to count our music

How to Count Image by FraGue
How to Count

One question that comes up frequently in beginner classes or even some intermediate classes is: “why do we have to count the music?”.

The answer is very simple. Counting is THE way to navigate inside music. All western music that is based on notes (and this is at least 99% of the music that we use to dance) is created on a numeric system. Musicians give numbers to bars and notes. These act like a gps or a map. So everybody can play the music together.

For us dancers, it is the easiest way to communicate the relation between our moves and the music. And while you can learn a part of a city or a piece of music by heart, as soon as you move to new territory counting will come in handy.

If you only dance solo for yourself, then you can skip counting because you can work with your intuition, but as soon as you want to dance together with others you need to count. When you want to learn or teach choreography you must be able to count. When you want to talk to musicians, you must be able to count to get somewhere fast. If you want to make dance your job, you must be able to count.

It’s not hard. We will cover the basics soon. Don’t wing it.

Understanding Music

FraGues Maschine Mikro
FraGues Maschine Mikro

When I teach advanced students I put the focus of education on understanding conceptual work inside the dance and understanding the music. I already started the dance concepts series and I will start a series of texts about music soon. I wanted to call it “music theory for dancers” but that would be misleading because it is not really music theory.

So for lack of a better name I call this new series “understanding music”. I will cover topics like:

What is counting and why do I need it? Alternatives to counting and their applications. Why the f#~k do we count until 8 and start over? What is a bar, a measure, a meter, a rhythm, a polyrhythm, a syncope, a backbeat, a clave, a triplet … and so on.

I will explain why it is a good idea to know this stuff and how to take advantage of that insights. In order to do this in a understandable way I will have to create some audio examples. Therefore it might take me a little longer to come up with this posts.

I will start out with the basics, so that everyone has the possibility to follow the rest. From there we can go into any direction. So if you have preferences on which topics to cover first, let me know.

Playing the missing Instrument

At the Red Bull Beat Riders Camp in 2007 we had a lot of discussions about topics related to dance and life in general. One evening was about musicality in dance. B-Girl Asia 1 made the following statement:

When dancing I don’t follow the music. It is more like I am playing the missing instrument to the track.

While Asia 1 is really doing what she says she is doing, the same statement is often used by other people to justify the fact that they are off-beat and not listening to the music while dancing.

The thing is: improvising an instrument to an existing piece of music is not as easy as it may sound. You can not just do “whatever you want”. To make such an endeavour successfull you have to follow the rules of the music played. Using it as an excuse to dance without a relationship to the music is disrespectful to the people who can actually do it. There are people out there who can pull it of. Asia 1, who made the original quote, is one of them. If you are not, don’t worry – all is good. But please don’t make claims you are doing it, when you have trouble hearing the music or you just don’t care enough.

#thinklikeamusician