Ballroom Dance > Samba timing

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by serg_juv, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. serg_juv

    serg_juv New Member


    I've read that the samba timing is 2/4. However, there are two patterns: "1a,2,3a,4" or "1a,2a,3a,4", where "a" means a quarter of a beat. How is this possible? For example, with the first pattern ("1a,2,3a,4") we would have "1" (1 beat), "a" (a quarter of a beat), "2" (one beat) => TOTAL: 2 beats and a quarter (but the total should be 2 beats!!!!).

    I'm confused. I appreciate any suggestion about this.

    Thanks in advance
  2. bouncybouncyweee

    bouncybouncyweee New Member

    You don't study music, do you serg? this will be hard to explain if you don't.

    The "a" isn't a beat, per se. 2/4 time means that there are 2 beats per measure, and each beat is what's called a quarter note long. so, if you were clapping along to the music, you'd have a clap, clap.

    The "a" part, is just something inbewteen the beats. so, in samba, you'd dance the first quarter beat, and then the second one is divided into perhaps an eight beat, and another eight beat. I know this doesn't make much sense, but my point is you don't add beats in that fashion. It's clap, clapclap, clap, clapclap. I hope I divided the second quarter note correctly...

    I know this is a little detailed, but I just want you to understand that there may be a difference (that I am coming up with, i'm not exremely musical) between the beats in the music, and the rythm it is danced to, the way the beats break up.

    For example, when you're clapping along to a song, you don't clap along to every syncopation and extra little rythym in between the claps, do you? you clap a steady beat-- 1, 2, 3, 4 (or 1 2 3 in waltz)... but in samba, you happen to dance an extra little thing inbetween the "main" beats.
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hiya serg…I’m no musician so can’t really comment on that side of things but, as far as the different timings you mention go, I think it’s just a matter of different patterns using the set beat structure in different ways. I can think of samba patterns, for instance, that use whole, ¼, and ½ beats… it’s just a matter of different patterns utilizing the underlying musical structure(s) in different ways…
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes, the -a in samba is a syncopation, or a subdivision of the beats. Samba could be written in different time signatures. So if you want to dance it, don't worry too much about the musical notation. Musical notation will probably complicate things unnecessarily. Just attempt to hear, then feel the rhythm.

    One more thing about time signatures -- much of the music we dance to -- foxtrot, tango, rumba, cha cha, etc, could be written in the same time signature. So that's not the best way to learn to differentiate one dance from another. Other things come into play, such as tempo, accents, syncopations, style, etc, that much better define one piece of dance music from another.
  5. bouncybouncyweee

    bouncybouncyweee New Member

    Yeah, yeah, I know what I said was probably too detailed, but I was hoping that serg would get the fact that beats don't add up like that in music, that was all... :?
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Actually, BBW, I think your description of syncopation was quite good -- accessible for someone who's never studied music, but accurate enough for someone who has. Good deal. :D
  7. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Pygmalion is right about dancing the samba:

    I did the first week of this intermediate samba class on Tuesday night, and we did this neat choreography. (No previous samba experience except seeing people doing it a couple times and dancing to the music Sunday night after feeling the rhythmn). Focusing on feeling the music works. We did 1a2, 3a4, 5a6, 7a8 going back and forward... 1,2,3,4,5a6a7a8a going to the left, followed by whisks with 1a2, 3a4, 5a6...into a right turn....This has nothing to do with the samba timing.

    So, if you want to dance serg_juv you don't really need to know what you are asking.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sagitta. I was thinking all day about a way to describe the timing for those rotating boxes you asked about in another thread. Guess you don't need my samba timing tutorial.

    But the timing is very difficult for many people to hear. So when I'm teaching it (yes I teach it -- not enough experienced dancers to go around, and I'm NOT going to sit down :lol: ) I start from the basic beats.

    1,2 1,2 step touch forward and back
    Then add in the and. 1 and 2 1 and 2 to a basic, very small box step, with one and very even and taking up the same space as the two.
    THEN add in the -a almost as an afterthought before the two 1 ......a2. (sorta like one ....achoo a sneeze! :lol: )
    Hard to describe in words. Really easy to show in person.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    The other thing that may be going on here with the counting is that counting the music as written does always connect with counting the dance step pattern. Often, not just in samba, people will count the whole pattern, not the music. Like the pattern you did, Sagitta, was probably spread across several measures of music -- looks like four. But the counts were 1 through 8 because that's how long it took to complete the pattern. Nothing to do with how the music was written, as you said, Sagitta.

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