Ballroom Dance > Waltz and VW music, accents, and timing

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Piggles, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Piggles

    Piggles Member

    My teacher and I had a brief discussion yesterday about waltz and VW music that got me thinking. I studied music before I learned to dance and so I have always felt that dancing represents a physical interpretation of the music (not looking for a chicken vs egg discussion here...).

    When I think about the waltz music that I've played, music with 3/4 timing tended to have a slightly firmer, more delibrate beat than 6/8 music which for me at least, usually feels more whimsical. I attribute my opinion to the way I count music when I play it so that I use the 1 as my primary accent, and 4 as the secondary accent.

    [Note: There are many exceptions to my impression, not least of all the oom-pah-pah music I try to avoid. I understand the history of waltz music and waltz dancing, but am referring to present day music and dance.]

    So my questions are really these:

    1. Is VW like 6/8 music where the 1 is the primary accent beat and the 4 is the secondary accent beat? Or are 1 and 4 equally accented?

    2. When doing a 3-beat check between reverse and natural fleckerl in VW , how does it not throw the dancers off the music's 6-beat phrasing?
  2. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    Depends a lot on the song, but in many slow waltzes, a commonly used accent pattern for each phrase is...

    Strong 1-23, Soft 2-23, Strong 3-23, Soft 4-23, Strong 5-23, Stronger! 6-23, Strong 7-23, Soft 8-23.

    You will find exceptions everywhere though... In VW I think more commonly it's all strong bars.

    For recovering from a 3 beat contra check, I don't really see the problem with phrasing. On the even bar you do the contra check, on the odd bar you do replace, side, cross, and you are on the correct phrase for natural fleckerl. But perhaps you use some different timing for the recovery, like hold the first beat of the odd bar, in which case you could use canter rhythm for the first natural fleckerl (which I suppose wouldn't be a true fleckerl). That would put you on phrase. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable might have better suggestions.
  3. mindputtee

    mindputtee Well-Known Member

    I've always thought (and counted) VW music as 6/8 with a greater accent on the 1 and lesser on the 4. Then again, I'm a follow so the guy still has ultimate control, but I've always thought VW to have the strongest accent on the 1.
  4. clumsy fellow

    clumsy fellow Active Member

  5. govnu

    govnu Member

    Accent is mentally not physically counted

    For Natural Turn, Reverse Turn and Fleckerls, the 1st beat is stronger, 2nd and 3rd are weak, 4th beat is strong and 5th and 6th beats are weaker.

    One of the reasons is to let the dancers have time to take a rest (recharge) on the second bar for next figure.

    Contra Check could Odd or Even bar for 2-bar phrasing.

    Example for Even bar amalgamation:
    1. Natural Turn bar 1,2
    2. 1-3 Natural Turn bar 1
    3. LF Backward Closed Change bar 2
    4. 4-6 Reverse Turn bar 1
    5. Reverse Turn bar 2,1
    6. CONTRA CHECK bar 2

    Example for Odd bar amalgamation:
    1. Reverse Turn bar 1,2
    2. CONTRA CHECK bar 1
    3. Reverse Fleckerl bar 2, 1
  6. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I think of VW as 3/4, with 8-bar phrases. But mindputtee is correct that there are strong bars and weak bars. Odd numbered bars are strong (1, 3, 5, 7), and even numbered bars are weak (2, 4, 6, 8). Natural turns begin on odd bars; reverse turns begin on even bars.
  7. famfam

    famfam Member

    I think it's technically 6/8, but same idea. Natural figures start on 1, reverse figures start on 4
  8. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    No, not really the same idea. True VW is 3/4, with 8-bar phrases. Listen to some real VW sometime.


    You might be able to dance VW to 6/8 music, as in, it'll work, but it's not really waltz.
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    LOL. You sound just like my DH, with his stickler's definition of waltz.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  11. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    It helps to listen to the music and see the differences in the strength of the 1's. For example, I love to dance to a Few of My Favorite Things where there is a clear difference between 1 and 4. And of course it is grouped in sets of eight measures. There are exceptions. For example, the theme from Pan's Labyrinth is interesting and does not seem to be groups of eight.
  12. Piggles

    Piggles Member

    Interesting; what you've said Joe goes against my initial premise. Why is a 6/8 waltz not particularly favourable for VW?
  13. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Because 6/8 is not a waltz time signature!
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    *giggle* You sound like Dr. K, my music theory professor. Only you didn't use enough exclamation points. :wink:
  15. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    But viennese waltz is written with 1/8 notes... not 1/4 notes. So it is not 3/4 time, it is 6/8 time.

    Are you saying that viennese waltzes are not waltzes?
  16. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

    Musically, VW is either 6/8, 3/8, or 12/8. The accents do not allow it to be 3/4.

    VW, as I see it, counts as 1-2-3, 2-2-3.

    3/4 has an emphasis pattern of 1&2&3&.

    6/8 and other */8 time signatures might not be "waltz" time signatures, but it's what you dance VW to. It's in the basic figures.
  17. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    This made me curious, so I looked around online for a score of J. Strauss's Blue Danube waltz -- it's in 3/4. Just a fast 3/4. I'd guess that the traditional VWs are written in 3/4, but plenty of things that we dance VW to are written in 6/8. Maybe I'm not enough of a purist, but I don't see that it matters particularly -- either way, you've got groups of 3, so it fits with the dance. The difference will be in phrasing and mood, and that's something the dancers can adjust to stylistically. But I'm willing to defer to the experts on this point, since I'm not close to one.
  18. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

    I'll put in a disclaimer that, while I know a fair bit about music theory, I'm not an expert. I have been playing music since I was 5, though, and studying music since I was 13. I'm also a relative novice at VW.

    However, from what I've danced, and what I've watched, I haven't seen room in figures or musicality for taking the & counts into the dance...I can see how you would dance VW to a fast 3/4, but I'd choose 6/8 anyday.
  19. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    It is not about the accents, it is about the length of notes that are played. If it is fast, then the notes are not quarter notes, they are half the time of that and are eighth notes.

    Blue Danube is in 3 beat phrases or bars, with eighth notes. So it is 3/8. And according to Joe, not a waltz after all.

    Here is decent (although not perfect) explanation
  20. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

    The length of notes is relative to the tempo of the music...three eigths notes can easily be played at the same tempo as three quarter notes.

    The main different between 3/8 and 3/4 is the type of note, but also the off-beats they imply.

    3/8 is three eighth notes per bar. The musical emphasis is on the first note in each bar. It creates a very strong 1-2-3 sound.
    3/4 is three quarter notes per bar. The emphasis is on the first note, but the emphasis is more 1&2&3&. There is small emphasis on each quarter note, in contrast with the &s.

    This doesn't happen in 3/8.

    Sorry if I'm not explaining it very well. I find it hard to convey aural concepts in written form...

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