Swing Discussion Boards > How to dance a 6 count WCS to 8 count music?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by rawtothebone, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    As you say, being a beginner your immediate problem and task is to stay on time. Took me a year and a half to get to the point of being able to hear and follow the beat -- though the first year was sporadic mainly with salsa and a smattering of other dances; it was 5 or 6 months of WCS that finally nailed it for me.

    It's a slightly more advanced skill/ability to hear the 1. Once you have it, you just hear it and in enough time will find it hard to describe what you're listening for -- you just hear it. I think (since I've been "just hearing" it for at least a couple years now) that it's not one specific thing, like a change in the beat, but rather the sound and the feel of all the instruments and the melody and rhythm that reveal the structure of the music and that give me the feeling of where the 1 is. After following the beat becomes automatic and what to do with the feet and hands becomes automatic, then you'll have time to take in the whole of the song.

    Don't worry about it too much right now, but you can still start your training. As you're listening to the music, listen for changes: eg, the singer starts a new line, the instrumental interlude starts, a new solo instrument starts. You might want to start out doing this while you're not dancing, since you already have enough to think about. Listen for one of those changes and start counting the beats. After 8 beats, you should musical clues that it's another 1. Now, every 32 to 48 beats (4 to 6 8-beat minor phrases) a new major phrase will start. This could be when the singing starts or when the instrumental part starts, etc. You'll be able to hear that before you'll be able to hear each 1, so use that as a starting point.

    Oh, and another clue as to when the 1 starts: right before it your teacher will say, "5, 6, 7, 8!".
  2. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I think that the major source of confusion is that both disciplines use a lot of the same terminology, only a bit differently, and so much of the time a dancer and a musician will talk past each other and probably won't realize it, except for the feeling that the other person misunderstands a lot. An analogy would be an engineer and a technician talking about current flow, even though they both agree that current is the flow of electrons: engineers learn conventional current which flows from positive to negative while technicians learn electron current which flows from negative to positive; until at least one learns the other's terminology, they could argue all day over the direction of current flow.

    For example, rhythm was something that frustrated me greatly for most of my adult life. I learned rhythm and dividing up the beats in music theory, but I could not see how that applied to dancing -- of course not, because dancing's talking about something different. And some of the people who tried to teach me went straight to music theory to try to explain it. The real problem was that nobody had ever thought of demonstrating a basic step and then guide me through applying that step with music; all they did was tell me to follow the music and do what it told me to do. It took me 25 years to break free of their having brainwashed me that I was incapable of ever learning to dance (my girlfriend, then wife, now ex, was one of them and she made sure to reinforce that brainwashing).

    Every discipline has its own terminology with its own meanings, even when many of the words also appear in the terminologies of other disciplines. Communication between disciplines requires some knowledge of each other's terminology and awareness of the differences.
  3. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    The dynamics of the musical expression are slightly different.

    Yeah, that's not helpful.

    << Begin gross oversimplification >>
    If this is "the beat": . . . . . . . .
    And you can distinguish downbeats like so: o . o . o . o .
    Then 1 vs 3 is something like: O . o . O . o .

    In other words, the 1s have more energy/contrast/dynamics/volume than do 3s.

    << End gross oversimplification >>

    The easiest way to start internalizing beat 1 is to listen to music with lyrics, and concentrate your attention on the amount of emphasis given to each word. The stressed word (syllable) in the sentence will in most (not all) cases fall on beat 1.

    When this starts to make sense, you can then start weaning yourself off of the dependency on the lyrics, because what you really want is the beat of music which is stressed, and the lyrics won't always match.

    For a while, you'll associate stress with volume, but in fact there are a number of different cues available - changes in tone, changes in duration, the presence or absence of pick up notes, and eventually just a sense for when the 1 ought to happen, because that's where it has to be to match the previous one. There's no set of cues that always work; instead, there's a much larger set of cues and if you hear enough of them, you know it is a 1.

    You know that you are getting there when you can hear a piece of music that isn't in straight 4s or 8s and correctly anticipate where the 1s are going to fall (try All You Need is Love, by the Beatles).
  4. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    That works for me!:cheers:

    I would imagine you could be listening for the chord changes/progressions in the song would enable you to sync to the first beat of a measure.

    So, a newbie question, is the current inattention to which downbeat I'm starting on (1 or 3) going to be an issue later? (Silly me, of course it is! Otherwise other dancers with more experience wouldn't have the issue dancing a mix of 6/4 time and 8/4 time to a 4/4 rhythm. Right?)

    My group instructor isn't even talking counts. As we are all raw beginners (or at least that the level the class is taught), he's avoided all talk of 6 count or 8 count, and just lead us through the steps of 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6, with "walk, walk, run, run, run, anc-chor-step" for the ladies 6 count or "walk, walk, trip-ple-step, anc-chor-step" for his general purpose 6 count, with only time anything approaching a count shows up is when he substitutes "1, 2" for "walk, walk" at times. Could be he's interested in getting us to move and figures to has us worry about structure or count timing when we can finally get out of our own way. So at least for me, my 2/4 mindset appears has no consequence at this point.
  5. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    Ok, it will come with experience. At this point I'm only hearing o . o . o . o when I'm hearing at all.
  6. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Don't worry RickRS, Dancelf and Dwise1 have great hints. Dancelf wrote something similar for me a year or more back and after about a bizzillion dances, all the details in it finally are making sense :D Finding the one and five do come naturally after while. Even starting to work in 32s and 48s starts making sense. Now, I just have to get past the point where I miss the break by a beat or two.

    I think it is actually pretty hard making the transition from dance count to music count.

    Fun isn't it?
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Here's a url to My Give a Damn's Busted by Jo Dee Messina at CMT.com

    We do WCS to this one at the cournty western place, and it was pretty popular last year.

    I'd say that if you can't find the beat in this one, something more than your give a damn's busted.

    First there is an intro, and the music gets real soft. Then drummer fills few beats before I would start dancing.
    See if you can hear it. (See the music, hear the dance.)

    Since I start with the "starter step" triple triple rock step.,I'll be hitting the loud drum beats on the 3rd step of each triple, and the second step in the rock step (which is the second slow).
    If you haven't learned the "starter step", start where you feel comfortable.

    The drummer does some funky stuff sometimes, but in general it should be pretty easy to hear the beat.

    I stepped through until the first "break" in the song, and ended up ""at the end of the slot".
    Does it matter all that much where you end up? I dont think so.

    One important thing to know about music is that a lot of things are cyclical - they come around again.

    I'd say practice doing your steps in time to the music right now. This is a good song to learn to respond to the music with, too. In other words, it's pretty obvious that musicians don't constantly play the same thing over and over again, stuck playing four notes per bar or some such thing.
    Why should you be stuck with a certain number of steps per bar??

    Anyhow, it would be interesting to hear the analysis of this song by those of you who are advocating a more complex approach to this.
  8. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Really? Are you talking about professional dance teachers? I hope not. Isn't it their job to explain how to apply a step with music? If you're talking about your ex-wife, I'm going to assume she is not trained to teach dance and it's unfortunate that she took that approach.

    Though I should mention, one of my teachers said her pet peeve was that many ballroom dance instructors don't teach by using a count i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4; they only say "quick, quick, slow" but don't explain how that corresponds to the musical timing. This problem only seems to exist in partner dancing, to my knowledge. Using a count, or expecting students to know it, is pretty standard practice in jazz, ballet, tap or hip-hop classes.
  9. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    No - by which I mean you shouldn't be worried that you are establishing habits that will be hard to break.
  10. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    . . . and the less you put emphasis on it . . . the less of an issue it becomes. So you miss a particular part of a pattern by a beat or two . . . no big deal, nor will your partner think any less of you . . . keep it FUN!
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Ditto what Vince says.
    But you know, there's a lot of truth to the old saying that many a variation came about because someone "messed up"
    I think it's great fun to NOT be at the end of a pattern when the music breaks. It's a prefect opportunity to stop in some odd ball position.
    Now, mind you, not everyone wants to go there. What's more important to you: being perfect or "right", or having fun. And to me, really being with the music is the most fun I can have.
    I took my dancing very seriously for a long time, and I still do when I'm brushing up on something, or trying to learn something new. But that's practice. When I get up and dance, I'm doing it because it's fun, even if I'm trying to work something new into what I'm doing.
    So, again, practice hard, then have fun when you're actually dancing.
  12. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Actually, it has been really fun. Not being from a musical background, I never even heard of music being in 8s and 32s until taking up WCS. It is very cool just to know some of it. Now, I can listen to music and even guess pretty close to when the verse is going to change :)
  13. d nice

    d nice New Member

    A Westie friend of mine turned me on to this comic, possibly on a dance forum where we were discussing counting and music. It drops the f-bomb in the fourth panel, but overall not offensive and so very topical.

  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Questionable . . . yes.

    Apropos . . . absolutely!!!
  15. Gypsy Wishing

    Gypsy Wishing New Member

    It's easier than you think but hard to explain. The music is in octaves but the step has six counts, so the step floats in the musical phrase. Now the good news, the step can start anywhere, in the musical phrase, you're always right. It's not even necessary to begin on the down beat.
  16. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member


    I wouldn't go there.
  17. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Ayuh . . . I agree . . .
  18. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Erm... well you are technically correct... but realistically speaking it requires so much more skill and musical knowledge to be able to dance off beat and make it make sense let alone lead and follow it effectively enough to not completely lose your partner.

    I've been dancing Swing and Blues since I was a child and I still get looks from my partners like, "WTF?!" until the music catches up with my steps and the tension melts or catapults us into the next phrase back on the down beat.

    I'd hate to see someone who is an intermediate level dancer or below try this and expect it to just sort itself out.
  19. Gypsy Wishing

    Gypsy Wishing New Member

    I went back and reread the question.
    It might seem more natural not to count at all.
    Call it instead, triple step, triple step, rock step.
    Hopefully then logic and calculus can be treated in advanced classes.
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Wrong coast. (That's a bit clearer if you read further down the page - the original question was a bit ambiguous.)

Share This Page