Tag Archives: Blues

Book Review: How to Read Music in 30 Days

While dancers definitely don’t need to be able to read music, it is helpful to be able to dig up sheet music for a song and understand the meter and tempo markings. This can act as a sanity check against what you hear, tap out in a tempo counter, or find by just stepping out the dance.

The catch is that the simple idea that 3/4 meter is a waltz and 4/4 is everything else only gets you so far. What is 12/8 or 2/2? Can you even dance to music that is marked in those ways and others? How to Read Music in 30 Days describes simple and compound meters and tempo markings in enough detail to get your head wrapped around these markings and translate them back to something meaningful to a dancer.

Last year, I wrote a blog post about how musicians and dancers might think of tempo differently. In that case, it was a simple matter of the written music and the musician thinking about the pulse or underlying beat as being twice the tempo as the dancer does.

In the case that prompted this post, I was asked about “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” by Meghan Trainor featuring John Legend which is marked as 12/8 with a dotted quarter note = 72 beats per minute.

12/8 meter

This could be translated to a 3/4 meter at 72 measures per minute or 216 beats per minute. That would be a very fast Viennese Waltz, which is what 6 people have voted for. Alternatively, one could translate this to 4/4 time 72 beats per minute or 18 measures per minute, which would make a good Slow Dance, Blues Dance, or a very slow West Coast Swing, all of which have votes. See the book for how to do these translations; it’s explained better there than I can manage.

Since I can only have one tempo listed per song, I’m a little stuck on being able to get the “dancer’s tempo” correct for songs that can be danced to different interpretations of the beat. I’m starting to think about reworking music4dance so we can override the tempo on a per-dance style basis. That’s a pretty significant lift for a small number of songs. But this keeps coming up, so let me know what you think. If I get enough people asking for this, I’ll figure out how to make it work.

This is a topic that I’ve touched on quite a bit, so here are some other posts and resources that might be of interest:

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback, so please share any thoughts and ideas about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here. In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.

How to Read Music in 30 Days: Paperback

How to Read Music in 30 Days: Hardcover

How to Read Music in 30 Days: Spiral Bound

Note: If you found this book through this blog, please be kind and click on one of the links 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 helps support the site as a very small fraction of those proceeds will be directed to musci4dance.

What are your favorite Prince songs for partner dancing?

I, like many, am mourning and listening to Prince‘s music. Over and over again.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about music and partner dancing recently, this lead me to think about what I would dance to each song.  Especially when Leader of the Band popped up in my playlist and screamed Cha-Cha at me.  Of course a lot of his seminal work has more of a blues feel that I would associate with West Coast Swing (or possibly even more directly blues dancing).  But there are certainly some things in his catalog that one might Quickstep to (Let’s Go Crazy) or dance a Slow Foxtrot (Strollin‘) to.

Here’s a link to the list of Price songs currently in the music4dance catalog.  If you’ve got other favorites (along with what you would dance to them) let me know by responding to this post or sending feedback and I’d be happy to add them.  Or sign in and vote on what style you would dance to the songs already in the catalog.

The Prince Feature

One of the things that I noticed as I was looking for Prince music in the music4dance catalog was that I hadn’t implemented an artist page of any kind.  You could search for Prince but you would both get everything I had catalog by Prince and everything by Prince Royce songs with Prince in the title.  So I did a quick fix – if you click an artist’s name you’ll be taken to a page with a list of the first 100 songs I’ve catalog by that artist.  Since I’m only tracking artist by the full name this has a couple of implications, one of which is that Leader of the Band won’t show up under Prince since the artist is actually “Sheila E. featuring Prince and The E Family.”

You can, of course, still search for Prince and manually go through the songs to find the ones that actually involve Prince, but that’s obviously not the perfect solution.  How much does this matter to you?  Is it important to have a more specific idea of artist when you’re sorting through songs to dance to?

As always, please send me feedback or just respond to this post with any issues or ideas.