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. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I will admit I use a lot of 8 count patterns. To me they are the basis, the ground, a reference point and the anchor to the music. I need this reference point to start from and come back to. In between I use different count moves, and other ways of improvisation that creates more or less "chaos".

    When you listen to music, you will see that a lot of music is built up like this to. There is a firm ground, a reference point. For example a rhythm and a melody. Then the music may take off for a while, with improvisation and fun stuff, and then it comes back to the reference again. Safe back home. Some Pink Floyd music, for example, is very clearly structured like this.

    I never plan a dance like that. But if I feel I take off when improvisation, if there is too much six, ten, two, three point seven count moves, I come back to the safe eight count structure for a while.

    Anyway, that's me, and maybe only me, and what I believe in. :)
  2. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Nope. Not just you. I _always_ start with a few very simple 8-count things, do a few swing outs, then see. And I always bring it back to some eight-counts, aligned with the music, to lock things in. After all, every piece of swing music phrases in 8s, so why not??

    It's telling when jazz musicians have a hard time learning to dance because they are accustomed to thinking in the phrasing - 4s and 8s - and not 2s or 6s or 10s or whatever.
  3. lebowski

    lebowski New Member

    Yes, that's it.
    I'll check out some of the previous threads on this. I guess I'm finding it hard to maintain the correct rhythm in my steps, meaning the slow-slow-quick-quick without a guide in the music, if that makes sense. For example, with salsa On1, which I'm also learning (beginner there too), I know that the in-place steps happen on beats 2 and 6 (the conga slaps) - and knowing that helps me maintain the quick-quick-slow.

    Not sure what you mean by thinking of the pattern in 2 beat increments? Meaning the slow is 2 beats, and the quick-quick is 2 beats? But it just feels weird to do the pattern when I can hear the 1 beat, but the pattern doesn't match up.
  4. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    You're correct that you can't look to the structure of the music to tell you which steps happen when. In salsa, as you say, everyone is taught that you step forward on the "1", etc. (if you're doing on1 salsa).

    In swing, although you will likely start dancing at the beginning of the song on the "1", the repeating cycles of six-count patterns will not match up after that. I know it's hard for someone with musical background, especially, but you have to train yourself to sort of ignore hearing the "1" after that.

    I don't mean ignoring the rhythm and beat of the song - just training yourself not to expect step 1 of the dance pattern to happen on count 1 of the music. It just won't. By thinking in two-beat increments, this is what I mean:

    left (slow) - remember, "slow" = 2 counts in the music i.e. counts 1 & 2 in the measure
    right (slow) - again, = 2 counts of music, so this would be 3 & 4
    rock back on the left (quick quick) - "quick" = 1 count in the music so 2 quicks equal 2 counts in the music, so this would be counts 5 & 6. On counts 7 and 8 in the music, you start the step pattern again.

    so, there are three parts to this pattern, and each part of it equals 2 counts. 2 is divisible into 4 (such as 4-count musical rhythm). I find that thinking in two beats helps you keep time to the music without losing track of your step patterns. A lot of it is just the muscle memory of training yourself to just keep dancing in six count patterns so your body will do it automatically instead of looking to the musical count for guidance.
  5. lebowski

    lebowski New Member

    What I'm saying is that without the 4-beat measure serving as a map, I find it's easy to lose the tempo with the footwork. Going back to the salsa example, since I know the step in place happens on the congo slaps, I can time my other steps so that I get to the next step in place on the next congo slap, *even if I don't hear all the beats in between*. Without that reference in swing, my slow-slow-quick-quick gets off the beat (I think my slows aren't slow enough, more like 1.5 beats), and there is no obvious way (for me) to get back on the beat.

    I guess I have to just get better at hearing the tempo of the beats (which I can do when I'm not trying to do any footwork) while simultaneously moving my feet.
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I understand - really in any dancing I think it's important to hear the underlying beat, not just the accents. I find it helpful just to listen a lot, clap, tap or march to the basic beat (the drums going 1-2-3-4), and once you're sure of that, then practice the step pattern. Since "slow" is actually two beats, when you do the "slow" part, count "one-two" in time with two counts in the music. I notice a lot of dance teachers use the "slow" and "quick" description but few of them actually explain how many beats it represents. Hope that helps.
  7. lebowski

    lebowski New Member

    OK, I'll listen to more music and practice the step pattern to the beat.

    Yeah, my dance teacher hasn't explained much about the music at all. Thankfully there's DF and all its knowledgeable and patient members! :)
  8. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I can remember when I first learnt WCS walking up and down the hall doing 1-2 triple triple over and over again to music.

    It occurred (without any instruction) to me that you could line up the dance to the music by doing 2 beat 'filler' steps on the anchor - and they didn't need to be triple steps (my first experiment were with a rondeau). That was the breakthrough in understanding Swing dance.

    I went back to the class and told the instructor about my discovery and he said something like 'you've got it'.

    The next problem was learning how to communicate to my partner how I was going to do an extended anchor. . . . .
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Here is a good rule of thumb for keeping track of where you are in the music without counting every beat. Every upbeat (even beats) in the basic swing rhythms will be a slow.
  10. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    There is a lot of discussion here about musicians having difficulty with 6 count patterns in 8 beats of music. This seems odd to me since there are a lot of dances beyond swing that use 6 count patterns. For example, both Foxtrot and 2-Step also have 6 count basics.

    Shouldn't a good musician already be able to bridge measures and keep track of where they are in the music? It seems like they should have an innate advantage rather than a disadvantage. I ask because it seems like only the percussion piece of music actually has to fit in musical phrasing because it creates the structure for the rest of the song. The vocals and melody can carry over measures to create the tonic and resolve with whatever musical qualities the artists are trying to convey right?

    If we think of ourselves dancing as another instrument, we might be able to visualize basic dance as following the percussion while advanced dance is danced to the melody?
  11. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    In most popular songs, the melody line/phrasing also usually fits the structure. A melody might take, say, four measures to sing, but usually it will still finish by the end of that fourth measure. And even within that, often the accents in the melody will hit the "1" of each measure.

    I'm greatly simplifying, of course, and those rules wouldn't apply to certain styles of music, but since we're talking about swing dance, a traditionally formatted blues or swing song wouldn't break many musical rules, normally.

    However, I agree that a dancer can see himself/herself as another "instrument" in the song, and that "instrument" will need to use phrasing which does not match up with the measures. By the way I was discussing that concept with my mother, who is a Juilliard-trained music teacher, and she said "wow" because that sort of phrasing is hard to do.
  12. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Sure, the percussion creates the foundation for all the other parts of the musics. Still, accenting is very different from starting over. I don't have to start over stepping back with my left foot to acknowledge the 1. I can connect with it as the 3, 5 or 7 of my pattern as well.

    It just seems like a good musician should have a huge advantage. They routinely play lines in their part of the music that cross measures even while still fitting the basic 4,8,16,32 phrasing.
  13. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I just started doing 'Glasgow Jive' what a puzzle that is after WCS and Lindy.

    Instead of triples you do stationary doubles, The count is 1-2 double double for six beat moves.
  14. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Read jennyisdancing's post again, and hear her mother!! If you are able to ignore the phrasing and just listen to the beat, no problem. However, trained musicians have a very hard time ignoring the phrasing of the underlying music. They may play across the bar lines, but their fundimental phrasing is nearly always two measures, or 8 counts. Their DNA says - hear the song, not just the beat.

    Trust me. I am a jazz drummer, and it is outstandingly difficult to play 6 against 8. In The Mood is the ONLY swing song that does this, and it only does it for one measure before it realigns itself. Beboppers will play 6 against 8, and that was one of the many reasons of why swing dancers back in the day hated the boppers - they didn't honor the conventions that dancers built their dance around.

    Also, dancers that 'want to be another instrument', as I do, try to dance horn lines, or whatever, and again are often in the world of 8-counts.
  15. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    And percussion is a LOT more than just the boom boom of the club beat. Listen to the drum lines of nearly any jazz tune and you will hear the 4 or 8 beat phrasing. No drummer that I know, and I know many, plays in 2s or 6s. They play the song.
  16. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    :) My mother teaches and performs jazz, among other things. She said basically what you just said. Anyone with prior music training (and mine is hardly on my mother's level) can't help but hear the song's measures and phrasing. You have to actively train yourself to ignore it, to learn how to dance something like 6-count swing or 3-count hustle.
  17. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Indeed. It took me MANY years (Lindy Hopper for over fifteen years) to be able to dance 6-count without cringing :). And hustle. On my god. I have to actively count EVERY step &1 2 3, &1,2,3 etc. to force myself to ingore the music.
  18. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I find this just fascinating. I had not seriously thought about music since band class. I would never have imagined being at an advantage learning swing over all the musicians. When I started, I didn't even remember there was a 1. So dance is really fun for me because I end up learning music along the way. By starting with several 6 count dances, I just don't seem to get tripped up by the measures. I can accent them if I choose or just dance past.

    Do you think the challenge is musicians are always thinking in 8s and not in 32s?
  19. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Me too. :lol:

    Musicians think in 8s and 32s.

    Analogy:when you read, you notice the periods at the end of the sentences, and you also notice the paragraphs. Not just one or the other.
  20. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    So your thinking is that thousands of musicians are just better at isolating a part of the music as they dance? I just ask because there are tons of very musical people who are great dancers in swing as well as country and ballroom that don't seem to struggle with this issue?

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