Jazz as Movement - Essays For Lindy Hoppers


Active Member
They are great articles. Anyone want to talk about them? :)

The idea in "Where's the Beat" that rhythm is actually perceived in the motor cortex is fascinating. Intuitively, I want to agree, because I feel that having "internal" rhythm is key to following the rhythm of the music. But I want to find some of the studies he mentions.

I remember "Followers First" being controversial when it first came out because people thought it was trying to shift "blame" onto followers, or something like that. I don't have any links to specific arguments. I didn't see it that way; I saw it more as a reaction to the fact that some teachers teach that everything is the leaders' fault/responsibility and try to correct leaders first, sometimes seeming to assume that it's not even worth correcting followers until the lead is confirmed to be reasonably "correct." Fortunately, not all teachers teach like this! It's really hard to learn anything as a leader with a partner who isn't moving "with" you.

I think we need a lot more understanding of the follower's "part" in the dance. Most things are phrased from the leader's point of view automatically.

"Know, You Don't" is something I wish all the beginner/intermediate students would read.
Yes, I recall some followers being unhappy about the Ladies First article, which Nathan has since revised and retitled Followers First. Not me though. I'm a follower, but I thought the original article made excellent points that support the need to overhaul our unbalanced dance classes.
Yup, Nathan's perspectives and insights are lucidly powerful. I've been inspired by his dancing for over 10 years way back when he lived in Oklahoma, long before my active involvement in vernacular jazz. A true inspiration!

Steve Pastor

Staff member
from one of the listed articles...

"THE BEAT" is located ONLY in the minds of the musicians who are playing the song
There are numerous journal articles that report on the use of (mindless) instruments to measure rather precisely (to the millisencond) the variations in how instuments are played to produce "swing."

So, I guess, being the trained in science guy that I am, I'd have to argue that there IS a beat that can be measured and it is not only in the minds of musicians.
How we perceive things is certainly an interesting subject, however.


Active Member
There are numerous journal articles that report on the use of (mindless) instruments to measure rather precisely (to the millisencond) the variations in how instuments are played to produce "swing.
Well, calculating where the beat is in software is a mind-like activity. I think the point was more that no single instrument always plays on the beat, and the beat still "exists" even during a break when the rhythm instruments aren't playing.


Active Member
The beat is in the mind of the musicians is about how even if everyone stops playing the beat goes on (in the mind of the musicians) and everyone can join back in together and still on the same beat.

This specific thing doesn't have anything to do with swing, the same thing happens in classical music and basically any form of music

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I'm sure that there has been lots of research on non swing music. I just happen to be reviewing the literature.

1. The beat itself is not present in the sound of a song./QUOTE]
source - Jazz As Movement web site

"the soloists were mostly playing their downbeats after the cymbal but were sychronized with the cymbal at the off-beats."
source - Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal
calculating where the beat is in software is a mind-like activity
Most of these papers report on measuring, rather than calculating.


Active Member
The thing about the beat not being present is a philosophical point. As in the key metronome that keeps everyone playing together doesn't have to be audible for it to work.

Some of the instruments will happen to be playing on the beat but that's not "The Beat" as in if those instruments were to drop out the beat would stay the same. That's how it works when the audible beat drops out during breaks etc.
I would like to talk about the "KNOW, YOU DON'T" article.

Have you noticed a trend between these two different kinds of dancers?

(1) A dancer who simply learns steps/patterns and choreography and uses these movements primarily in their social dancing; and

(2) a dancer who understands the underlying techniques and principles behind the steps and patterns and can adapt or create their own patterns and steps during the dance itself.

Have you noticed instructors who teach in one of these two fashions? If it's one of those one-hour beginner lesson classes, I can understand simply teaching movements from the beginning so people can start dancing and having fun right away. But at what point should you begin showing technique and teaching the things as described in the article? Or do you think they should be taught from the very beginning?

If a partner compliments me on my dancing and asks me the ever-so-famous "So how long have you been dancing?" question and are shocked by my response, I wish I could direct them to this article. I feel it's one of the more important pieces of advice for any dancer to follow.


Steve Pastor

Staff member
Take a look at the book "Guitar Zero," if you haven't already, to get an idea of how we learn to act reflexively. The fact is that we first "learn" to create new skills in the higher functioning areas of our brain. Only after repeating things many times are those skills passed to the "lower" portions of the brain, where we can do them "without thinking."
At the same time, the author of that book acknowledges the importance of the contribution, in the way of what and how to practice, a good teacher can make.

In the Know, You Don't article the author seems to be saying both
Know is a no-no.
When students...are focused on physical actions and sensations they show themselves to be closer to realizing their technique. They also will get more useful answers, and they will raise the level of the class.

That seems a bit contradictory to me. Students ask questions because they want to understand something. They want to know it. But, Know is a no-no???

Verbal input from a teacher can help someone understand what it is they are supposed to be feeling and responding to.

I guess I don't think the article makes a very clear point.

Regarding your point 2) - "understanding" something is not the same as internalizing a principle. Articles and books I've read on playing an instrument always make the point that musicians must have a huge investment in doing something before they can "adapt or create their own patterns" at any given time ie improvise. Is dance any different?


Active Member
Seems to me that "Know, you don't" is pretty focused on lead-follow mechanics and not on learning or epistemology.

It's not all students' "problem," though, as the way that so many classes/workshops are heavily pattern-based will tend to guide people toward thinking about how to communicate about patterns, rather than movement...

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