As anyone who has
spent any time reading my blog or
interacting with my website should
know by now, I’m very passionate about music, dance and the relationship
between the two. I’m also very
analytical about those subjects. And,
yes, I believe passion and analysis can co-exist, don’t you?
The fatal flaw with
my perspective for people who are learning to dance but don’t have a musical
background is that I came at music first and dance much later. So as much as I try, the way I think about
the relationship between dance and music comes from a music first
That’s why I was
thrilled to happen upon the book Hear the Music, Feel the Beat by James Joseph. This book is a well crafted dance first perspective to understanding how
dance and music relates. He does a
terrific job of walking through the basics of music theory with pretty close to
the minimum amount of information that a dancer needs to get by. And he is very careful to call out the places
where he goes deeper than absolutely necessary so those that aren’t interested
in those details can skim past.
On the subject of
going deeper, one thing that I took away from this book that I hadn’t heard
before was the term mini-phrase. This is
a nice term for what I think of (and Mr. Joseph also refers to) as an eight
count (or six count in Waltz). For many
dances this is the basic unit and I’ve heard dancers refer to this unit simply
as a phrase, but that causes substantial cognitive dissonance with my musicians
brain which insists on thinking of a phrase as the substantially longer chunk
of generally 48 to 64 beats (although that varies depending type of music or
even the particular song). So
mini-phrase fits perfectly, and that even lets me use the term
“phrase” out loud with dancers while tagging on the “mini”
part in my head.
This mini-phrase is
also something that I would like to incorporate in my tempo counter tool. When I wrote this years ago I set things up
to consider tempo in beats and in measures (of different meters). But I’m in the middle of a rewrite, so I
think having a 8 count and 6 count mini-phrases would be a valuable addition.
Overall this is a
great read. And the bonus videos with
practical exercises will be an immense help to anyone learning to dance that is
struggling with “musicality.”
As always, I welcome feedback both on this post and the site in general. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the site in any of the many possible ways. And if you enjoy the site please consider contributing in any way that makes sense to you.
Note: If you found this book through this blog, please be kind and click on the link above to purchase it. This helps support the blog. If you’re feeling especially generous (or just like the blog a lot) clicking on the Amazon links in the blog or on the music4dance site and then doing your regular, unrelated shopping which also help support the site as a very small fraction of those proceeds will be directed to musci4dance.