Salsa > Salsa dancers towards Ballroom dancers doing salsa.

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Egorich, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. mygoldfish

    mygoldfish New Member

    I started by learning ballroom. It wasn't til a few years later that I began attending a Cuban salsa class. For a while I danced both ballroom and salsa (LA as well as Cuban) and then for a while I only danced (a whole lot of) salsa.

    Although I have a whole lot to learn, I know that I'm decent at both salsa and ballroom, so I don't think learning one or the other first made any difference. However, in terms of this discussion, I might be the odd duck that isn't a great example to use (as far as the quality of my salsa/ballroom in reference to this conversation) because I am quite certain that it wouldn't have mattered how or when or in what order or (at least not very much) by whom I was taught to dance; the main reason I (relatively) excel at whatever style I try is because I understand, relate to, and follow music so easily and so well. As has been brought up, I think differences in music might have a very large part in any differences in dancers that might have been observed - for example, an original salsa dancer trying his hand at ballroom is bored by the music or can't get absorbed enough in it due to lack of complexity; or a ballroom dancer learning salsa having trouble finding the beat - but I thrive in the complexity of latin music and love how artistic ballroom music is even if it is more simple.

    This reminds me of my salsa venue - it's 99% LA/linear dancers, but once in a very rare blue moon enough dancers who know Cuban will show up that we'll form a Rueda de Casino. Since these casino dancers are from several different cities and have all been taught in different ways, we usually stick to just a few basic moves so everybody can keep up. And yet, even though there's nothing complex going on in the rueda, it's not unusual for the rest of the dance floor to become sparse due to everyone stopping to watch, and we almost always get an ovation at the end of a song. It doesn't take a lot of complicated moves to make a dance look and feel interesting; it just takes a little creativity, some style, and a love of the dance and even simple moves can be fun and interesting.

    OOH! I know what style I wanna learn next! I'm absolutely in love with Cumbia, and I've always thought ballroom dancing to Dave Brubeck would be a blast (5/4 time signatures or swaps from 4/4 to 3/4 every few measures), so sounds like Colombian salsa would be right up my alley...and since my dancing ability is based in my intimate knowledge of music, I bet I could even keep up. :D (with a little practice, of course!!)
  2. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Strict tempo means that the tempo (beats per minute) stays within a certain range. Breaks, phrasing, etc are not counted as tempo changes.
  3. vit

    vit Active Member

    I presume you have argentine tango music as example of music that is changing tempo? I'm actually not familiar with AT or the music, but I suppose it does happen. However, there is a lot of AT music with violins etc. But if there is a rhythm section in the band, like it is with salsa music, some significant changes of the tempo within a couple of bars are not usual (although of course some tunes slightly speed up or slow down and there are also other varieties as mentioned by tangotime).

    Well, every dance genre has different type of music and different ways of expressing musicality. Of course, salsa dancer can use WCS type of expressing musicality (adding steps, delaying some moves to the phrase), but it's not what salsa dancer will usually do, but he will stick to 8-beat construction with their moves etc. And of course ballroom dancer can also express musicality various ways within 'limits'
  4. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    at the first page of the sheet music that the band plays from, there is a tempo marking, either in beats per minute or measures per minute, along with a time signature. If the time signature changes in a song, then you have 'breaks' or what dancers call 'syncopations'. However, no matter how complex the arrangement of the music is, how many or what kind of instrumentation is present, it has zero effect on the tempo. Tempo changes include retards, significant speeding up or slowing down (and not because the musicians are playing faster because they are in the 'hotter' part of a song), or whole sections that change time signatures (a song that starts as a foxtrot and then becomes a waltz).

    Changes in instrumentation, while they can seem to affect the tempo of a song, such as the drums changing from 4/4 hi hat to 16th notes, do not mean a tempo change.
  5. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    I have never heard the term break used to refer to a change in time signature, and a quick Google does not turn up this usage. Generally the beat continues as normal during a break, but most of the instruments drop out for a number of beats, especially the melody instruments. "Syncopation" is another term entirely, and also does not mean change of meter.

    Again, the point is that "strict tempo" ballroom songs fall within narrow tempo ranges, whereas songs in other genres have much larger ranges, not that they typically change tempo in the middle. E.g. the range for Lindy Hop is something like 120-220 BPM for regular socials and more like 90-300 BPM for really good dancers and performances. The range for salsa, which I'm less familiar with, is apparently something like 100-250 BPM give or take.

    The ranges used in "ballroom music" are typically much tighter, especially for competition where they are set by rule to very narrow ranges, but also in non-competitive DJing just because strict tempo is part of the culture and affects what people have on CDs and playlists. In addition to the greater avoidance of big breaks or "changes" in songs, this makes ballroom music seem relatively limited compared to non-ballroom genres.

    On top of that, this approach to music often makes DJs "reach" for music that is not strongly suited to the dance, because tempo is prioritized over other musical qualities. E.g. the pop and increasingly techno songs played for cha-cha that blatantly do not have a cha-cha rhythm, but that are about the right tempo and that you "can" dance cha-cha to.
    Siggav likes this.
  6. vit

    vit Active Member

    That's my understanding as well. Syncopation in music means that particular note is longer than usual (for instance 1 1/2 beat), marked with a dot beside the note (that's at least how I learned it - description in wikipedia is more general, so in that sense, break is also a kind of syncopation)
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I think the opposite is true.. i.e. In Guajira and Cha Cha, the time sequence is shortened to include the the "and " as in 4and1 or..3and4.. that is the syncopation, in dance terms . I was told , many yrs ago,by a classical musician ( lead chair ) that, they called this, a " pick-up note "
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The main point of this, is for the establishment of solid foundations within that specific dance. BUT, all know that, there are numerous options for variance ,within each dance at the higher levels of competition .

    The lack of these types of discipline, show up in most of the " street " style dancers; and, Im not suggesting that those genres should "enforce " rules beyond the foundation work, which is normally less inclusive, from a varietal standpoint .
  9. vit

    vit Active Member

    Probably this word has slightly different meanings. In case of cha cha, in musical terms, 1, 2, 3 are quarter notes, while 4 and & are eighth notes.

    But clave rhythm is syncopated in musical terms. In case of 2-3 clave, we have quarter note pause, 2 quarter notes, quarter note pause, followed by 2 syncopated notes lasting 1/4 + 1/8 and one quarter note. That would be musical notation for drums / percussion I'm familiar with

    Proper VW music is also syncopated. It's 3/8 measure, but all of these 3 beats are slightly different length (2nd the longest) - most ballroom dance teachers I came in contact with don't know about that and tend to play plain 3/8 (or 6/8, 12/8) music for VW; dancing on that music isn't giving me the proper feeling when dancing
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I do know the more technical differences on " notation ", just wanted to simplify, in dance terms, for those that are not familiar with construction . And heres a conundrom. Syncopating in Waltz ,when its not written in the music ( for e.g. ) . Poetic licence ?
  11. vit

    vit Active Member

    All details are not always in musical notation - the same for shuffle rhythm in jazz, that is usually written as dotted eighth note + sixteenth note (3:1), but frequently played slightly differrently (approx. 3:2) etc ... it's assumed that musicians are familiar with how it should be played. It's similar like in dance books / charts, where some details are omitted, but it's assumed that people using them (teachers) are familiar with them (which unfortunately isn't always the case)

    However, I agree with your slightly broader definition of syncopation in the dancing, just wanted to say that it can have slightly different meanings, as there was some discussion about meanings of various terms before your post
  12. Siggav

    Siggav Active Member

    As a musician, syncopation is putting an accent in an unconventional place. I.e. "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur."

    I would not call a break a syncopation, the duration is too long, it's not a rhythmic stress or an accent, it's a section of a song.
    vit likes this.
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Good point.. which brings me back to specific e.g. in Waltz ( it happens in other dances also ) . A Whisk, for e.g. may have different placements within the same bar ,where Sync. may be added as in 1.2 and 3, or, 1 and 2.3 . D.R. spin has similar options.

    My conclusion is this; the appropriation of " time " created, is more due to character , than convenience, and has little to do, with what is on the written score .
    vit likes this.
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    But if you should put on authentical VW music from the belle époque you will find that there always are cacencias and codas in it with varying or different tempi.
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  15. vit

    vit Active Member

    Yes, I understand that "proper VW music" (for ballroom dancing) isn't the same as authentical VW music (taking for example well known Blue Danube Waltz / An der schönen blauen Donau, which speeds up and slows down several times) and the same probably with other genres

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