Tango Argentino > Teaching Musicality to tango dancers

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by bordertangoman, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. mkjohnson

    mkjohnson Member

    from Bordertangoman: "I make the assumption that people who want to dance tango realise can hear the music [...] find the beat..." etc.

    I wouldn't make that assumption at all - it hasn't been my experience in the classes I've been to at least.

    I know several people who've commented that:

    - they "can't tell one song from the next",
    - "don't like tango music" (so why are you here? Oh yeah, waiting for Gotan Project to come on), or
    - think that, after more than a year of classes, finding the beat translates to marching to the beat.
  2. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    "Louis Armstrong was once asked what the definition of jazz was.His reply was"Man,If ya gotta ask"...Jazz can be defined but really just has to "be done." Musicality in dance is the same way in a sense in that the musical dancer moves and moves the audience by expression.When a dancer uses musicality in dance the dancing looks effortless.It flows with the music.The dancer knows the music,how it is put together,and can do any movements with ease.I believe skills can be developed relating to rhythm,musical form and style,but I do think some people are born with it,while others never quite get it.The naturally musical dancer is less concerned with the steps-and you can see their ability to feel the rhythm and move to the music expressively.You can see it.This kind of dancer is more than a master of the steps.He can anticipate phrasing,pauses and emphasis in music.It is harder to explain but you can indeed see it."

  3. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    sure- it is easier for some people than others, and some people will never get it. I, myself, fell in between. I knew I heard something but didn't know how to get to it and wanted badly to express it, and was sorely disappointed early on that leaders I danced with didn't seem to hear it at all...

    But that doesn't mean you don't even try to show people. The some people are naturals and some people aren't to me is an excuse because it is really hard to explain and no, some people just aren't going to "get it" but I still try anyway.

    And I can guarantee that learning phrasing is teachable, because I learned it, and my other half learned it and when we started, our musicality was pretty bad.

    I always go back to one of my teachers (who is renowned for his musicality) telling us one time that he went to BsAs when he started, and got told his musicality was terrible...and he is now one of the first people I think of when someone suggests musicality.
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    nOWADAYS; i make no assumptions as I dont believe anyone hears what I do, let alone the same as each other. I had one leader who after eighteen months couldnt tell that the music playing was a vals not a tango!

    I agree with DB that teaching someone about phrasing is pointless until they have some skill in acceleration and deceleration and can move in and out of single, double and half-time movements;
  5. shrek

    shrek New Member

    Reminds me of a fun Homer and Christina class a while ago where they made us sing to our partners, both at the same time. Very embarrassing, but was interesting to hear what parts of the music my partners picked up on compared to me. Then we had to try and deliberately pick different aspects of the song to sing.
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    well I like the sound of that never got on with Korey's clapping games.....
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I watched...whatzisbuttons...dances with the Comme il Faut chickie...lead a clapping demonstration of various rhythms and I thought it was brilliant. To each their own, I suppose.

    Another interesting way of helping people to hear things in music (and again I go back to classical music) is Fantasia. Absolutely brilliant for putting pictures with sounds.
  8. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Ah, you have been to London.
  9. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    This is exactly what happens in salsa - it's the "all [insert nationality here] look the same to me" syndrome. If you're not used to it, it simply takes time to accumulate yourself to the music, and to start hearing the differences.

    A bit harsh. One can enjoy things about the dance without necessarily (initially) liking the music much.

    There's a beat? :eek:
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know that clapping in of itself makes a class good or bad. It's the underlying message and how well it was communicated that counts (pun intended). I've had classes with both, who you mentioned (I've got a pretty good idea who you are referring to), and BTM's teacher. IMO, the teachers you mentioned were much better at it.
  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    MsHedgehog has a post here which is relevant - similarly, she says that:
    To be fair, I was dancing the middle track of a milonga tanda last Friday, and both myself and my partner were more comfortable with it as tango, so we did that... I'll probably be forever shunned now for admitting that.

    Yes - the most obvious point about musicality is that there's no purpose in teaching it to people who can't use it. If a beginner can walk to a beat, I'm happy. But given the choice, I'd rather a beginner leader could lead a step clearly, than interpret the music well.
  12. borisvian13

    borisvian13 Member

    And what would the real motivation for learning those technical skills would be if people don't already hear all that in the music? Perceiving the music in depth (well, at least in some depth) should come first and should be the main stimulus for developing one's technique.
  13. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    To me, musicality means making ones dance correspond somehow to the music. I don't know how someone could do that if they didn't already have some ability with moves. I think it makes sense to start off teaching students to move to the beat. After that you can include the additional level of interpreting the music.

    Also, I think it is important to devise some manner of practicing musicality. Explaining music is useful, but students need to practice doing musicality, somehow.
  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    an interesting hypothesis......

    you are making assumptions which I would question; I hear a lot of things in music but to dance I have to be selective; I would say motiviation comes from seeing someone else dance those steps to that way to that music and saying I would like to try that...

    but other people may have other motivations; curiosity.. because the teacher is famous...
    because I want to dance better than...... or to impress Ms X....... because they prefer Salgan to Canaro; who can say?
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Meh, Gotan is so standard by now. I keep waiting for someone to break out some 311 at a milonga. Now that would be fun! :D
  16. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Eh. Everyone is different.

    People start AT for different reasons, people start with different strengths and weaknesses, people find inspiration from different sources, people learn different ways. Some may need help hearing the music, some may need help finding the beat, some already connect to the music and strive to find a way to express it.

    Saying that things "should' already exist within a dancer, or that one thing or another is "necessary" for learning an inspiration denies, I think, the reality of human complexity.
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well, you could extend that and ask why learn AT at all if you don't like the music?

    Personally I started to learn AT because I wanted to dance AT. The fact that I had to dance it to that weird plinky-plonk music was initially something I thought of as an unavoidable overhead.

    I totally disagree.

    Most beginners I know have no idea about the music; bear in mind that in the UK a lot of people have got their ideas about AT recently from shows like Strictly Come Dancing, in which AT is rarely danced to traditional music.

    Most beginners are interested in the dancing, not the music. And yes, there is a difference.
  18. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I know that people come into dancing with many levels of musical knowledge and interest but - bottom line to me is, I truly don't understand how someone enjoys dancing without doing it "to" and "with" the music.

    I mean, if you don't like to express the music, or even the beat, then aren't you just moving around with sounds randomly playing in the background? Not trying to be snide about this, I sincerely just don't understand. Sure, I understand enjoying movement for movement's sake, but in that case, wouldn't it make more sense to do a sport, go hiking, or do pilates, or yoga perhaps? Help me understand this. :confused:
  19. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I don't know. I kind of feel the same way as you do. I've known local guys for years who always dance the same steps, the same ways, with the same technique...regardless of the type of dance (tango, milonga, vals) or what song is playing. I don't get it at all. And, yes, it makes me want to scream sometimes.

    But...all I'm saying is, they must be getting something out of it, or they wouldn't be there night after night, year after year. I don't understand things, but I guess I don't have to. It's their experience to enjoy, whatever that experience really is. And I genuinely think that some people don't recognize that they aren't really dancing with the music, that they're just meandering around while music is playing the background. *shrug* If it makes them happy, who am I to criticise that?

    All I'm saying is that everyone comes to the table (dancefloor?) with very different experiences and expectations. There's never going to be a one-size-fits-all method of teaching, or of inspiring, or anything else.
  20. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think tango is not all that different from blues in that respect - once you understand the basic pulse of tango you are fine. How to get there is another question. Tango instruction is a bit confusing in that regard - on the one hand we always talk about how free tango is, and how playing with the rhythm and structure is the core of improvisation, and on the other hand successful playing with these things requires at least some idea that these structures are there, and where the 4 is, and the 8, and how it feels to kill the phrase at 8, or to dance stright through the phrasing, or to mark the 4s when the orchestra marks the 4s and 8s, and so on. A lot of people don't even seem to be aware that there is a pulse to tango - they might as well dance to a metronome.
    Musicality classess help, but i think only way to really learn it is to listen to tango a lot, and to learn to trust the music - for me the best orchestras to learn to trust the music are tanturi and d'agostino - they not only give you lots of interesting stuff to play with, but they also very nicely warn you when something is going to happen, and they are kind enough to catch you if you miss one of their flourishes.


    (detour: i think this is one of the reasons i don't like dancing to most of piazzola - you almost have to learn his music by heart - he is extremely untrustworthy, and not in the joking, winking way older orchestra leaders were, but he activly seems to try to kick you out of the song, and once you loose it he doesn't let you back in. IMHO, 5 cents, and all that)

    (detour 2: vals actually is in some ways much closer to milonga than to tango - if you don't dance vals flat it has this rolling DUM--tat-tat going on, because it is really not a 3/4 but a 4/4 rhythm vals it is actually not one-two-three but one--three-four. The person ms. hedgehog danced with might actually have tried to dance old-school vals - more modern dancers tend to dance it flat and emphasize the phrasing, not the rhythm)

Share This Page