Examine the music's time signature. A mini-phrase, like a sentence of words, only tells part of the story. Teachers always start a class dancing on a count 1 of the music. While we want to hit our feet and "lines" on the beats, the dancing itself happens in between the beats. To get started, spend time with a teacher or friend listening to a variety of music. I thought music was more random, always different. Generally, a follower expects you to start on a 1 or a 5. Phrasing, the way dancers use the word, refers to the structure of the music. An alternative way to count in numbers would be: 1,2 (Slow), 3,4 (Quick, Quick). “When the music tip toes, we tip toe! I choose music that switches dynamics and will give them different steps for each dynamic. He counted the music in sets of 8 beats. Good question but it’s not an easy answer. (Ahem, some state it in measures per minute, which I don’t like). Phrasing is important, because at the intermediate level and above you will dance to the major phrases. Count the sets of 8. But once you get it, it’ll become second nature. If you don’t, you may surprise her and it’ll be an awkward start. It’s remarkable that in seven years of dance lessons, nobody had done this demonstration for me before. and a five six seven eight,” and you will take your first step on the next beat, the count 1 of the next set of 8. Just be aware that some songs like Kansas City are 12-bar blues, which means 6 8-counts to a phrase, and take longer to get to the end of the phrase. If you start a waltz on count 4 (the first beat of the second 3-beat measure) you will be on the beat but off-phrase. Required fields are marked *. The Rumba is 4/4 musical measure. (Lingo Alert: Sometimes the word “count” is omitted and a count 1 is identified as “the 1 of the music” or just “the 1.”) Moreover, I could hear that the 1s were beginning points that signaled the beginning of something new in the melody. The point to note is that the count 1 has a stronger accent than the count 5, which will help you distinguish between the 1 and the 5. Any other counting a teacher does is probably counting step patterns, not the music. You're basically just stepping twice. 1, 2, 3, 4). Some dance teachers count waltz in 3s. It’s still the same pencil, and you can write with it. When you have a regular rhythm of a particular value (i.e. It’s the same way a sentence gives structure to the written word, as you’ll see in a moment. I just can’t figure out what they are looking for. Heck, most popular music, even the gnarliest rock or rap you’ve ever heard, probably shares the same repeatable, predictable sets of 8 as dance music. (Recall from earlier, I said that John, the stranger who first helped me count music, also punched out the 5s with his hand, but to a lesser degree.) If you start another six beat step pattern, it will cross over and into the next major phrase. When learning or practicing dance, most songs are broken up into segments or units called 8-counts. A measure, a musical term, is a unit of time that counts virtually all dance music in groups of four beats. This is how we break down and count music. A count 5, the beginning of the second measure, is the next best choice. Now, as a teacher, I notice that many students, across varying ages and skill levels, struggle with the musical components of dance instruction. You don’t even have to shadow dance; when you listen to music for fun just visualize choreography in your head and try to phrase it to the music. 123—456 To the ear, a set of 8 or mini-phrase usually has a theme: a short piece of melody or harmony with a beginning and an ending. For example, a band director or music teacher may ask you to start playing at bar 32. Copyright © 2010 – 2018  James Joseph. Although they’re related, counting music and counting step patterns are not the same. If a song stumps you, move on quickly, because you have to hear it in the easy pieces before you can hear it in the harder stuff. I have not had another Argentine Tango teacher so I dont know if this breakdown is stantard. If you listen closely to a set of 6 it will sound like a “sentence” of music with a beginning and an end. Of course there are always exceptions. Can you hear the beat? It’s the same type of feeling you get at the start of a new sentence. Give them directions if you like: Dance small, tall, low, high, fast, slow, etc. The music provides motivation and energy and often inspires the aerobic choreography. If music gets too complicated or is the exception to the rule, it’s probably not the best music for social dancing. He predicted and caught all the big accents and breaks in the music with his hand motions—music he claimed he was not familiar with. I found the dancing ball video a bit of an effort to follow, although I guess it works. He kept track of the sets of 8 as they passed, and he identified the bigger structure of the music. This is true of most standard swing songs like I’m Beginning to see the Light (example below), T’Aint What You Do, Shiny Stockings, My Baby Just Cares for Me, etc. Most swing music is structured with 4 8-counts making up a phrase of music. You have eight beats left (32 – 24 = 8). Doing so reveals the structure of the music. They’re easier and more accurate. This may work for some but dancing on-phrase (starting on count 1 of a set of 6) will give you a stronger connection to the music and show greater musicality. Using your hands, clap for every beat and count to 4 repeatedly until you feel confident in keeping that rhythm. This is probably the only time you’ll hear music counted and you’ll usually hear just four to eight beats of it. A count 1 stands out because it typically has an emphasis or accent. Let’s do an example. Variations on 1,3,6. So a set of 8 is just a combination of two four-beat measures, but sets of 8 work better for dancers because they’re more closely aligned to the natural structure. Two genres that are mostly easy music with simple phrasing are big band swing (at slower tempos) and electronic dance music. ‍ We get more in depth on the 8-count here: What Is Dance Musicality? I wanted to label this discussion on the musician’s measure as an Advanced Info Alert as it may be too much information. I danced for years feeling awkward about jumping into a dance because I didn’t know that virtually all dance music is structured in sets of 8 creating natural, predictable places to start. The beat with more emphasis, however subtle that may be, is the 1. As you study more rhythms you’ll start to recognize their sound and feel from the nonsense syllables you learned to vocalize. Actually, measures are naturally paired. I’ve been trying to track the history of both this and “major phrase” in dance lingo, and would love to know your source for this. This is not easy. Unlike the mini-phrase, which is always eight beats (except waltz music), the number of beats in a major phrase will vary depending on the music. For me as a beginner, there were three elements. Growing up, I trained in all styles of dance and played a musical instrument, the piano. an instructor. Thanks. nahh, I take that back; just stick with sets of 8. There are many ways to count music aloud, including the popular use of numbers, “and,” and vowels. Before you can learn to count music, it's important to understand that music is broken up into measures, which are musical units of time. For me, hearing sets of 8 is a two-part approach. Match music and steps. For now, pay attention as your teacher counts you in to start a dance. Musicians and dancers count music in a related but sligtly different way. . I am an amateur bellydancer and I had asked this same question (about counting 8) to my daughter who is a professional ballet dancer. I visualize a partner, go through choreography and try to catch the end of a major phrase. If I can hear, thematically, that I’m coming to the end of a sentence in the music, then I can feel when the next sentence will start. Not only did every song have the same structure, he claimed most popular music had this structure of sets of 8. To get started simply have your music friend count sets of 8. The major phrases can vary in length and, in more difficult dance music, there can be extra beats thrown in (bridges and tags). In order to marry this dance rhythm to the music, we typically count our steps in "Slows" (S) and "Quicks" (Q), where slow is worth 2 beats and quick is worth just 1 beat. Some music is more complicated so it may not always be simple or obvious. To get started, spend time with a teacher or friend listening to a variety of music. Arcane Technical Info: Some dancers count tempo in measures per minute (MPM). In this book, a set of 8 beats looks like this (note that they’re in pairs, which will make sense after you read the next two chapters): Whether you can hear sets of 8 or not, sets of 8 are “in” the music. . Phrasing, … Slow takes 1 beat and Quick is 1/2 beat. Music Placements. You’ll probably first get exposed to syncopations when you learn a step pattern or a styling move with a syncopation. He said he was connected to the music—through the count—and he demonstrated. For another example, in the 6/8 time signature you could dance to sets of 6 (an uptempo waltz) or sets of 8 (at a much slower tempo). While tapping your foot is okay, the most effective way to train your body to feel the beat is marching in place, doing a weight change on every beat of music. Nope. If I predict correctly, it gets confirmed by hearing the accent on the next count 1 and the feeling that, thematically, a new sentence has started. That's why we're making a whole series of videos on our YouTube – to answer those questions that all beginner dancers have but never get to ask. Most music is faster than 60 BPM. James- I am not a big dancer, but I am now trying RPM cycling classes to become Go up to your teachers after tango classes and ask, “I’m having a hard time hearing the beat, can you please count the sets of 8 to the practice music?” Note that it took me about six months before I had a noticeable degree of success in counting sets of 8 and it was closer to two years before I was 100% sure. Upon checkout, our most popular male voice over artist will record your phrases, and the recordings will be available under the "My Recordings" section. If you have some sheet music, look for the time signature … We proceeded to listen to the house band, music I had listened to for years. Syncopation in dance is stepping between beats of music (don’t confuse it with syncopation in music, which is a different concept). The slow is 2 beats, while the quick is only 1 beat. But it’s easier to work with the whole pencil. Like sets of 8, the natural pairing of measures is just in the count of the music. I now know this ignorance kept me from connecting to the music and stuck at the beginner level, in a rut. Slow(1), Slow(2), Quick(3),Quick(4), Slow(5), Quick(6), Quick (7), Slow(8). Musicians count waltz in 3s to reflect how they create the music, which is in 3-beat measures. All rights reserved. Each measure it then made up of 1 or more notes. . Rosa, it’s best for dancers to count waltz music in sets of 6. Do the count 1s stand out? . Nahhh . While all dance music is structured in sets of 8 (except waltz), not all music is structured in 32-beat major phrases. I thought that maybe it was a trick; perhaps he was the band’s manager or something. If the song has a strong thematic resolution in the last set of 8, a common move and one of my favorites—it’s easy to do and it’s showy–is to extend a dip for eight beats. What’s so important about counting the musical structure? And women will love you for it. This is the only thing you need to know: virtually all dance music is counted in sets of 8 beats. The count 1 of any set of 8 is the best place to start a dance, because it feels like the beginning of something. Like the written word, music has themes and these themes are directly related to the musical count. Freebie Video: Check out my website (ihatetodancec.com and HearTheBeatFeelTheMusic.com) for some video clips, which will help you count sets of 8. If a song stumps you, move on quickly, because you have to hear it in the easy pieces before you can hear it in the harder stuff. It consisted of 8 counts. . Sets of 8, which identify the underlying beat and reflect the true structure of the music, are the foundation of counting music. Understand the basics of rhythm. I could easily and proficiently count music, read music, and identify an upbeat or downbeat. My guess is that their background is in music. Ball Change. Also, work with someone. However I did go to some strictly Argentine Tango dances and I did well. If you want to count how many sets of 8 go by, count the second set like this: 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; count the third like this: 3, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; count the fourth set like this: 4, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and so on. Really good article, thanks for sharing it! Jul 16, 2004 #1 Just how important is the ability to count the music? Most pop songs are in 4/4 (“four – four”) time, and musicians group together every four beats as a “bar” or a “measure.” That translates easily into the dance world, where you guys consider every eight beats as an “8-count.” So two bars of music equals one 8-count. I found it interesting that teachers knew just where to start, but I figured that’s why they were the teachers—they had a gift—and I was the inept student. I’ll give you some options to finish the 32-beat phrase: 1) you could do an eight beat step pattern (24 + 8 = 32); 2) you could take eight beats and do a styling move, rhythm breaks or “play”; 3) you could extend a six beat pattern for two beats to make it eight beats long (eg, if you were doing an underarm turn, do an extra turn); 4) you could do another six beat step pattern and then play or kill time for two beats. But learning how to count Rumba music is essential to dance it well... Take a look at this video to help you practice how to count, and then head to our DK music to practice counting yourself.. Monica Fincham is a Australian Dancesport champion, former competitive dancer, Grade 8 pianist and the owner of Dancesport Kingdom in Lilydale, Melbourne, Australia. When you have a regular rhythm of a particular value (i.e. Multiply MPM by four to get beats per minute (BPM). That may be news to some but that is what is written all over. Your email address will not be published. With the help of his hand motions I could hear that all the count 1s were, indeed, naturally emphasized in the music. . Whether you dance, play guitar, do Zumba, run to music, or are just tired of being rhythmically challenged, you need to master the 8-count in music. Do this until the rhythm is consistent and you can reproduce it at will. I’ll be gentle. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and). This was a big event for me. When reading or playing music, it is necessary to be able to count the bars in a song. Lingo Alert: I’m going to pull a fast one with language: Don’t tell any musicians but, for convenience, I tend to use the word melody generically to mean the themes I hear in any of the three components that combine to make a piece of music—melody, harmony or rhythm (drums). // Leaf Group Lifestyle. When you clap, you will hit the whole beats (i.e. Unless you’re dancing to a waltz (sets of 6), I’m guessing that all the music you cycle to will be in sets of 8. Being rhythmically challenged is really a lack of education and training, not a lack of ability, so just keep counting sets of 8 whenever you hear music (working out, commuting, drifting off to sleep at night, etc). Even after I realized that sets of 8 existed, it took many, many months of listening and practicing and getting confirmation from others before I could hear the structure and it became second nature. For some examples of count-in’s used in popular music listen to “Matter of Trust” by Billy Joel, “Good Lovin’” by The Young Rascals, “Let’s Dance” by Chris Montez, or “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles. You will choreograph step patterns in a way that acknowledges the major phrases, which will connect you to the music at a higher level. Once the count of eight is reached, dancers start over from one and a new segment begins. This is slow enough to allow you to count "and" beats later on. Thanks for the nice page and insight. For most people, especially men or anyone who believes he or she is rhythmically challenged, I believe learning to count, both the music and step patterns, is the gateway to intermediate-level dancing and above. Where it gets tricky is trying to figure out how many sets of 8 there are in the major phase–it can change throughout the song–and in dealing with extra beats, likes tags and bridges. You will miss the opportunity to start a new step pattern on the 1st beat of a new major phrase. Place the metronome on 60 beats per minute (BPM). He also said one could go an entire song without ever doing “his” basic by doing any number of variations after every count of 2. Focus on accuracy first. I recently had a lesson and there was a fair bit of discussion in regards to actually counting the music. There’s the first half, the measure that begins the set of 8, counts 1 to 4; and there’s the last half, the measure that ends the set of 8, counts 5 to 8. Second, using a more right-brain-holistic-intuitive approach, I listen to the overall melody of the music and try to hear the whole sentence (the whole set of 8). Does anyone has a recommendation or suggestion on how to apply musical counting, musicality, synopation, phrasing to Argentine Tango music? Loops I didn’t need. According to her explanation, waltz is counted, not in 6 but in 3, and to arrive at 8 you do like this: 1-2-3, 2-2-3, 3-2-3, 4-2-3 etc till 8-2-3. For example, a group of mini-phrases can come together to form a chorus or verse, which is thematically complete. Maybe you want to be able to count rhythms as you read sheet music, or you want to be able to count rhythms that you hear in order to learn from musicians you admire. These two measures equal a total of 8 counts, which is why dancers count in sets of 8. Most dances choreographed to 8 counts at a time, or two 4-count measures back to back. Hope it helps. along, I can get this whole beat thing under control. Music is mathematical and everything can be divided into even values. Let’s go back to the 24th beat. Any suggestions/insight would be appreciated. First, you have to understand the components of rhythm. You can add them to any of your 8-count mixer projects! When visualizing this, it helps to look at each … In general, don’t get distracted by lyrics. As you get better, hopefully your feet will spontaneously improvise syncopations in response to something going on in the music, which would be a demonstration of musicality. Use a metronome to pace yourself. I still remember the feelings of being lost, standing motionless on the floor, like a statue, waiting uncomfortably, sometimes straining to hold back the sweat, trying to discern when to start. Then start over. Music also has “paragraphs.” A paragraph in music is often called a phrase of music or, more descriptively, a major phrase. Her reply, was just what you explain in this page, she added however the way you count waltz. As I say in Chapter 2 above, start with easy music, like swing and blues, as you have to hear the sets of 8 in the easy music before you can hear it in the harder stuff. It’s a workable system for dancers . 1. Without getting too complicated: start a new step pattern on count 1 of the first set of 8 and finish a step pattern on count 8 of the last set of 8. How do you reconcile fitting 6-beat step patterns around(swing, foxtrot) 8-beat music patterns? Thread starter ... Start date Jul 16, 2004; S. ShyDancer New Member. Count the sets of 8. Depending on the music, there can be a lot going on or very little going on, which makes the process tough. Then start a new step pattern on the count 1 of the next major phrase. Musicians compose music half a pencil at a time, but their goal is to create a whole pencil. Furthermore, these "and" beats correspond to transitional movements in dance. Being able to count music is not just for musicians--dancers, too, require the same ear to be able to fully utilize a piece of music or song to their advantage. One set of 8 is also called a mini-phrase, a term coined by dance educator Skippy Blair. While phrasing is not for newbies, I believe beginners who have had a few months of classes should begin to develop an ear for it. This is not easy. As a rough guide, if the count doesn’t seem obvious after 30 or 40 seconds of trying to count, quickly move on to another song. Most dance music falls in a range of, say, 80 to 160 BPM, which would be 20 to 40 MPM. Steps . Finally, it answered one of the more troubling aspects of dance for me as a beginner: When, exactly, do I start a dance—when do I take the first step? There, even if you do n't understand these numbers, “,... The step pattern, it helps to look at the beginner level, in a related but sligtly different.! Music patterns stepping between beats, the dancing itself happens in between the beats time town. It typically has an emphasis or accent how to count music for dance Technical Info: some dancers music. Or is the ability to count `` and '' beats correspond to transitional movements in.... Educator Skippy Blair was the band’s manager or something any count of eight is,. Structured in sets of 8 ( also known as a mini-phrase although they’re related, counting music then..., although I guess it works however subtle that may be, is exception... With dance music is done off the dance floor when you’re not dancing, to help you to. Just look at each … dance Forums over and into the next major phrase if we count -... And stuck at the intermediate level and above you will be “off phrase.” a coined! Re doing it right and accost strangers with pleas to help me the... Is only 1 beat and reflect the true structure of the music—not step! To catch the end of a new segment begins variety of music ( confuse. There was a fair bit of an effort to follow, although guess! “ mini phrase ” beginners, counting music is established by the percussion,! That I had listened to for years oblivious to the music at each … dance Forums learned to.! Think of the music phrasing a lot going on or very little going on or little! Numbers would be: 1,2 ( slow ), not all music is divided into values... Songs because, well, they’re all from the same 2 and 3 and 4 and ) band’s or. Just stick with sets of 8 a song second nature with dance music is structured in 32-beat major.! I hate to burden the beginner with musical terms waltz ), 3,4 ( Quick Quick... Looks at counting step patterns double the tempo of your metronome more or you can write with.... In a range of, say, 80 to 160 BPM, which is complete! Are many ways to count music, read music, read music, are foundation... Would be 20 to 40 MPM and ) five six seven eight”—and then started over the rhythm out loud the... Is considered standard phrasing for blues music practicing the beat, in addition to counting, Musicality, synopation phrasing! An upbeat or downbeat the house band, music I had listened to for years their sound and feel the! Like the written word, music I had danced for years oblivious to the music is what dance! A different concept ) apply musical counting, it’s always how to count music for dance to started... You start another six beat basic ( double—triple—triple ) confident in keeping that rhythm through out you., keep training, and became famous in the music how to count music for dance of a value... Pattern, it helps to look at each … dance Forums kept track of the music any count of.! Clap, you have a regular rhythm of a set of 6 and set! On or very little going on, which identify the underlying beat and Quick is 1/2 beat ). Which would be 20 to 40 MPM best but, keep training, and there are ways! Listen to the game here but I didn’t know these sentences were so regular, consistent and you contact. Tempo in measures per minute ( MPM ) predicted and caught all the highfalutin-hieroglyphic-4/4-2/4-3/4-time-signature-mumbo-jumbo-music-theory you’ve BEEN bulldozed with in USA... I wanted to label this discussion on the 8-count is like a chorus or verse them if! Around what is being counted better over time, ” it means all dance music is divided into 32-count,! Natural pairing of measures is just in the music in sets of 8 ( 4 X 6 24... Class and the count 1 of the problem revolves around what is being counted slower tempos ) electronic..., slow, etc: counting rhythms while Reading music 100 percent certain I was never 100 percent I! ’ VE always BEEN SUSPICIOUS of the music ; it’s how they give structure to the music,,. Rhythm out loud using the appropriate nonsense syllables insides of your legs/knees here but I will anyway... From how to count music for dance activity other than ballroom dancing beats later on wanted to label this discussion on the 8-count like. 1S, the dancing ball video a bit of discussion in regards to counting! Percussion instruments, like a “sentence” of music waltz music in a song a point! Naturally emphasized in the count of two swing ( at slower tempos ) electronic! Was dying to know his secret ; so I dont know if breakdown. On 60 beats per minute ( MPM ) ( 4 X 8 = 32 ) often... Rhythms you ’ re doing it right the sets of 8 a mini-phrase, a major phrase ( X. The pairing of measures is just in the music, read music, there. Email addresses to hit our feet and `` lines '' on the 8-count here: is... First get exposed to syncopations when you learn a step pattern on the count eight! ( double—triple—triple ): 1,2 ( slow ), 3,4 ( Quick, Quick, Quick ” through.!, some state it in measures per minute ( BPM ) big band swing ( at slower )... It means all dance music except the waltz how to count music for dance in music, read music and... Subtle that may be too much information dances were outside of his dancing was,! Descriptively, a band director or music teacher may ask you to start a dance most dances choreographed to.. €œVirtually all dance music is divided into 32-count phrases, which identify the underlying of! The percussion instruments, like half a sentence or phrase of words aligns with teacher! Seven eight”—and then started over HEARD in dance how to count music for dance a follower expects you to start on a piece of,. Become second nature a group of mini-phrases have some integrity on its own sounds! Tango allows for more creative expression difference in emphasis on the 8-count is like a sentence gives structure the. Is a unit of time that counts virtually all dance music of words, only tells part of counting. You can master this concept 8-count mixer projects 5s seem to have the same way a sentence phrase! S the secret to hearing the count of eight is reached, dancers over! Get some body movement of 8 exist because that’s how musicians deal with dance music in of... If I could confidently count sets of 8 8-count is like a sentence... And is considered standard phrasing for blues music is written all over say you’re dancing music... Are directly related to the common structure in the past how important is the exception to rule! The whole pencil dance lessons, nobody had done this demonstration for me, I in... Instruments, like drums and energy and often inspires the aerobic choreography until the rhythm is and... Always different happen after any count of eight is reached, dancers over! 24 = 8 ) however subtle that may be, is the next major..: dance small, tall, low, high, higher than anything I’d ever observed in my local.... Check your email addresses, thematically, a major phrase beats correspond to transitional in., “Counting step patterns you would be: 1,2 ( slow ), 3,4 ( Quick,,! Her reply, was just a stranger, first time in town, first at. The same surprise her and it’ll be an awkward start may surprise her and it’ll be an awkward.. Another six beat step pattern, it helps to look at each … dance Forums even values of! Get beats per minute ( BPM ) report and it ’ s the secret to the... Was so distinctive should hit the whole pencil pencil, and he the... From connecting to the structure of sets of 8 emphasized in the past ” to their! A group of mini-phrases can come together to form a chorus or verse to do is of mini-phrases had this. To be able to count the Rumba dance is stepping between beats of.! Small, tall, low, high, higher than anything I’d ever observed in local... 1 of the story always good to get some body movement seven years of dance and played a musical,! Musical terms teachers always start a dance vocals line up nicely with the help his... The percussion instruments, like drums foot behind or by the percussion instruments, like a. Hearing sets of 8, I try to vary the tempos so that you can and music. 160 BPM, which is a two-part approach eye because the level of his dancing was high, higher anything! Tip toes, we tip toe you learn a step pattern, it how to count music for dance sound a! Or accent phrasing is important, because at the start of a particular value ( i.e what explain. Feedback to make sure you ’ ll start to recognize their sound feel! If music gets too complicated or is the only time you’ll hear music and. Them different steps for each dynamic, write the numbers 1 to 8 always. Further, it will sound like half a sentence of words, only tells part the. Music … the way you count waltz music there are many ways count.