Staying on beat

#21
If you can think about all your movement as a serious of two beat movements rather than six or eight count patterns you'll open up a whole new world of styling and improvisation without ever getting "off".
My next goal. :D

ETA: You know, this really works (while dancing in my apartment alone). haha! At a later time, I'll advise on how well it works for me on the dance floor. I'm just saying "BOOM ta" or "BOOMBOOM ta" (on beat with the music) in my head instead of counting. It seems you really, really need to have the basics in your muscle memory to do this effectively.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#22
"As to traditional, yes, blues is a traditional music form for West Coast Swing. Looking at the tapes of WCS performers you'll find an entire period where Blues was the predominant form chosen."

What period are you writing about?
Can you give the titles of songs that were used?
Where can I see these "tapes"?

"If you want to talk about original music it is going to be Swing, Blues or Rhythm and Blues."
Yes, and Western Swing was the most popular music in the LA basin when the dance "Western Swing" was codified by Lauire Haile for the Arthur Murray Studios in Santa Monica. I agree with you that WCS is a subset if the larger Lindy set. Western Swing (the music) was popular in the LA Basin, and along the West Coast, because of the large number of people from Texas, Oklahoma, etc. as a result of immigration during the Depression and World War II.
The music known as Western Swing seems to be the forgotten chapter in the history of swing.

Did Murray use Westen Swing music during their lessons in the first half of the 50s? Or what? Beats me. We do know that Skippy Blair tells us that by 1958 "nothing Western" was popular in her corner of the LA Basin, Downey, when she took a suggestion from an newspaper editor to advertise the dance that had been known as "Western Swing" as "West Coast Swing". (One day I will see if I can find that ad.)
I find it very interesting that rockabilly was pretty popular in 1958, and was used in "Hot Hod Gang" movie for a "dance rehearsal" scene.
What a difference a decade makes in popluar music!
But lots of early rockabilly people had back grounds in Western Swing, the music.

Anyhow, I would appreciate any info you would like to pass along. Maybe someone else would be interested, too.
 
#23
"As to traditional, yes, blues is a traditional music form for West Coast Swing. Looking at the tapes of WCS performers you'll find an entire period where Blues was the predominant form chosen."

What period are you writing about?
Can you give the titles of songs that were used?
Where can I see these "tapes"?
I wasn't trying to open up a whole debate about history by saying that blues is traditional music for WCS. Simply pointing out that in my personal experience, there tends to be two types of music played these days at dances: current and recent pop/rock/R&B, and blues. Blues is obviously the more traditional choice of the two. The WCS teachers at my studio say the same thing. One of those teachers is John Festa, who makes himself known as a "traditionalist" in his music choices, and that means he plays blues when he DJ's a dance.

Getting back on topic, you are so right, d nice, your posts are excellent. Because I have musical knowledge, I was really getting confounded learning WCS because the patterns didn't fit the musical measures and it was making me crazy. I had trouble keeping time while dancing the patterns. I decided to start thinking two counts at a time and it helped immensely. Although I did that just to help myself learn the basics, you are right in saying that the principle really helps you go way beyond that, because you start to realize "oh, I could take these two counts of the pattern and do something different, or play around and extend the two-count section to four", etc.
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
#25
Because I have musical knowledge, I was really getting confounded learning WCS because the patterns didn't fit the musical measures and it was making me crazy.
You're right; I think musicians and people who are musically knowledgable actually are at a disadvantage in this regard. You can't help but thinking, "That's not right! It doesn't work that way!" But it does. Took me a while to get past that. Now, hustle -- I still haven't come to grips with that three-count thing. :rolleyes:
 
#26
OK, jenny, would you ask John Festa which blues songs were danced to traditionally, and when that happened?
Stop that!
:p:grin:

If you really have to know more, though, you can check out his site for his musical philosophy.

And you said it cornutt, hustle seems even worse than WCS because of the three-count thing. At least with WCS you can break patterns down into two counts at a time (usually) and then you're working with an even number. I can't even figure out how anyone invented three count hustle, because hustle music (disco) clearly has such a strong, simple 4-count rhythm. I've heard a couple people guess that hustle looks more interesting and varied when the counts don't match the music. I don't know about that. All I know is, I still have to count to myself quite a bit to stay on beat when doing hustle, whereas I don't have to with WCS.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#27
Right. He writes,

"We no longer dance exclusively to blues and rhythm & blues with a syncopated back beat. "

But there is nothing about when "we" were dancing to blues and r&b.
I wonder to if to him, "blues and rhythm & blues with a syncopated back beat" is synonymous with early rock & roll, which would include rockabilly. But, you know, to many people rockabilly is not near as cool as "blues and rhythm & blues". In fact, rockabilly was used to insult the musicians, who were primarily from the South, as were most of the Western Swing musicians.

I'm just trying to get people to cough up some facts rather than philosophy, and it's not easy.
Really, I have tried many, many web sites. Lots of words, very few facts. And I've looked at lots of movies trying to find the things that people write about.

OK, I won't bring it up again (unless someone else does).
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
#28
And you said it cornutt, hustle seems even worse than WCS because of the three-count thing. At least with WCS you can break patterns down into two counts at a time (usually) and then you're working with an even number. I can't even figure out how anyone invented three count hustle, because hustle music (disco) clearly has such a strong, simple 4-count rhythm.
The only thing that works even a bit for me is the fact that most disco music has no accented beats; every beat is boom-boom-boom and the note value is exactly the same for all beats. Still, though, it's 4/4 and the melody tends to work in units of 4 or 8 bars. There's only one explanation for how three-count hustle got invented that makes sense: cocaine. :rolleyes:
 
#29
The only thing that works even a bit for me is the fact that most disco music has no accented beats; every beat is boom-boom-boom and the note value is exactly the same for all beats. Still, though, it's 4/4 and the melody tends to work in units of 4 or 8 bars. There's only one explanation for how three-count hustle got invented that makes sense: cocaine. :rolleyes:
:uplaugh:
Actually it seems to me that many disco songs do have very strongly accented beats. Good examples: the song "Contact" by Edwin Starr, "Let's All Chant" by Michael Zager Band, "Disco Nights" by GQ. All of them have a big honking accent of one-two-three-AND-FOUR. I love those songs but when I hear them I really want to time my hustle "and" step to that 'AND' accent in the music. I can't do that on every measure with a three-count hustle and have to really force myself to ignore the song's accents.

Anyway I got kind of curious and found an interview with a hustle instructor, Steve Rebello. Here's an excerpt:

Rebello: I think the 3 count version of hustle has caught on because of the speed at which it moves.


Seyer: That's right. You have to put 4 foot movements into 3 beats of music.
Rebello: Four count hustle has all the same patterns as 3-count hustle--with all of the same ladies turns and arm movements. It's slower so it's easier to learn and it fits music well since the music has 4 beats per measure. But 3-count hustle is flashier and more exciting.


Seyer: At first it drove me crazy to count 1-2-3 when I kept hearing the music going 1-2-3-4.! But a while, I began to enjoy the contra-metrical effect produced by 3 counts against 4 beats of music. It's reminds me of music by Charles Ives where half the orchestra is playing 3/4 time and the other half is playing in 4/4. time.
Rebello: It's not so hard to do 3-count hustle if you don't think about it too much. But it's probably harder for musicians to adjust to the 3-count pattern.
 
#30
The only thing that works even a bit for me is the fact that most disco music has no accented beats; every beat is boom-boom-boom and the note value is exactly the same for all beats. Still, though, it's 4/4 and the melody tends to work in units of 4 or 8 bars. There's only one explanation for how three-count hustle got invented that makes sense: cocaine. :rolleyes:
Actually that isn't quite true as pointed out above... most Disco music, especially the early and the late period stuff actually has very clearly denoted beats... it is that middle period of pop-disco that is nearly without any distingushment in the rhythm section. This is the music that Hustle really got popular to... a subset of the most accessible (to be kind and unbiased) Disco music.

As to 6 count patterns not matching up to two bar phrases in 4/4 music... yes and no. You have to remember that WCS evolved out of Lindy Hop and has always had very close ties rhythmically and musically to Black music. The idea of mutiple rhythms and meters in a song being played by different musicians is used through out all of West Africa (and appears in all of Black Africa and most of Arab Africa to some degree or another). So the drummer laying down a very obvious baseline of a cycling rhythm counted out 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4 and you dancing to a larger cycling rhythm of 1 2 3 4 5 6 means you will push and pull the beat cycling through and aligning with the “1” every 24 counts/beats without variation.

To further “swing the beat” you dance with a syncopated step (1..2..3.&4..5.&6) which further creates the sense of propulsion in your steps and rhythms, and the next level is swapping between 6 count and 8 count patterns to push and pull your placement with the music. Above that is the idea of truncating or extending 6 or 8 count patterns to 4, 6, 8, 10 and then free styling 2 beat improvisations which may not be tied to a specific pattern but may entirely self-contained.

LOL. All of this is most easily seen when West Coast Swing is danced to music with a serious swinging rhythm section or one which uses rhythmic propulsion/tension in the shuffling method of West Coast Blues… which was played by Black and White Blues musicians transplanted from Texas who were some of the major influences rhythmically on the White Western Swing bands (Steve we can discuss more in the appropriate thread).

With todays inclusion of so much pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary, and Hip-Hop, much of which does not have the rhythmic propulsion or tension of the music that WCS was developed to it started to get a much more even count and feel to its triple steps, resembling much more strongly the ballroom-ized version of Cha-Cha. While easier to dance to and more accessible for the 30-somethings much of it lacks the defining elements that make WCS able to actually swing. You can ask John Festa about how that changes the styles of the dancers and teachers who never really danced to the core rhythms that defined the music in the 40s-60’s
 
#32
Actually that isn't quite true as pointed out above... most Disco music, especially the early and the late period stuff actually has very clearly denoted beats... it is that middle period of pop-disco that is nearly without any distingushment in the rhythm section. This is the music that Hustle really got popular to... a subset of the most accessible (to be kind and unbiased) Disco music.
Exactly; my examples of accented disco music in my earlier post all were songs from the later period of disco, 1978 and after. Some of the early stuff from 1974-75 also is strongly accented. I do find it easiest to dance three-count hustle to the middle period stuff such as Salsoul Orchestra.

As to 6 count patterns not matching up to two bar phrases in 4/4 music... yes and no. You have to remember that WCS evolved out of Lindy Hop and has always had very close ties rhythmically and musically to Black music. The idea of mutiple rhythms and meters in a song being played by different musicians is used through out all of West Africa (and appears in all of Black Africa and most of Arab Africa to some degree or another). So the drummer laying down a very obvious baseline of a cycling rhythm counted out 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4 and you dancing to a larger cycling rhythm of 1 2 3 4 5 6 means you will push and pull the beat cycling through and aligning with the “1” every 24 counts/beats without variation.

To further “swing the beat” you dance with a syncopated step (1..2..3.&4..5.&6) which further creates the sense of propulsion in your steps and rhythms, and the next level is swapping between 6 count and 8 count patterns to push and pull your placement with the music. Above that is the idea of truncating or extending 6 or 8 count patterns to 4, 6, 8, 10 and then free styling 2 beat improvisations which may not be tied to a specific pattern but may entirely self-contained.
I get this intellectually, but it doesn't make it the dance any easier. :nope:
To understand polyrhythms, let alone dance to them, is a tough task and a lot to expect of beginning dancers. No wonder so many people find WCS challenging to learn. On the other hand, I'm now studying flamenco, and dancing to a 12/8 rhythm with syncopated accents makes WCS look like a walk in the park :p

Great post d nice, you really know your music.
 
#33
You're right; I think musicians and people who are musically knowledgable actually are at a disadvantage in this regard. You can't help but thinking, "That's not right! It doesn't work that way!" But it does. Took me a while to get past that. Now, hustle -- I still haven't come to grips with that three-count thing. :rolleyes:
I will NEVER come to grips with that three-count thing. Clearly it was not a musician that thought that up.

Why did they do that when most music is in four-count phrases anyway??? I am certainly not meaning to disparage, but it just boggles the mind. Even most (rudimentary) ballet choreography combinations are eight-count phrases.

/rant
 
#34
I will NEVER come to grips with that three-count thing. Clearly it was not a musician that thought that up.

Why did they do that when most music is in four-count phrases anyway??? I am certainly not meaning to disparage, but it just boggles the mind. Even most (rudimentary) ballet choreography combinations are eight-count phrases.
My guess would be a combination of two things. (a) starting from a dance that was in three to begin with (mambo, or swing danced in cut time), and (b) making the direction change happen on a ball-change (one beat) instead of using walking steps (two beats),

If Jenny is right about AND FOUR, I see another possibility, which is that the dancers were on2. So hold-2-3-4 becomes hold-2-3&4 becomes 1-2&3.

And, as I've noted elsewhere, you can count hustle in 2 if you are willing to twist your brain a bit.
 
#35
If Jenny is right about AND FOUR, I see another possibility, which is that the dancers were on2. So hold-2-3-4 becomes hold-2-3&4 becomes 1-2&3.
OK, this is the first time I've seen it described that makes sense. So why not just COUNT it that way (hold-2-3&4)? Why make it so excessively complicated and confusing?
 
#37
is there more :O

hey
since this thread is alive i though i might post this here.
found this forum recently. although i mostly belong in the salsa forum part
im just curious about these new style dance that seem so popular and wcs caught my eye. i watched some youtube videos and i was blown away never heard of this dance but its seems so great ehm smooth.:D
so i looked if i can find some dancestudios that teach wcs. but its not that popular here i guess.
i still need to read this whole forum so no need for explanations;)
only thing is that the music isnt really my style but ive read you can dance it to any kind of music.

do you need to be an expert in hearing the music cos when i watched the videos the feet pattern for me didnt even matched the music.

makes me wish i could dance so smooth.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#39
"do you need to be an expert in hearing the music cos when i watched the videos the feet pattern for me didnt even matched the music. "

It is an unfortunate fact that most people never seem to get the fact that they are supposed to be in time with the music as a basic prerequisite of dancing, rather than doing the steps and patterns at whatever speed feels right to them and calling it dancing.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes even professional film editors don't sync up the music correctly when they edit things (one "scene" in Assasination Tango is a good example of this). I have read that some video formats have problems in getting this right, too.

If you have a good feel for the beat, you should have no problem with most WCS music.
 
#40
oh i forgot to mention wcs isnt that popular in the netherlands. ive never heard of it untill i saw this forum.

that the music is out of sync with the video is one reason i guess.
that question from me wasnt really the right one.
mayby i was supposed to ask what counting they use for wcs. but ive read a lil bit in here.
about 2/2 4/4 2/8 or whatever counts there is. till i read that is not the most important thing to know. simply just dance to the rythmic pattern and you should be fine at least that counts for me.
 

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