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Author Topic: Learning how to understand music  (Read 2479 times)
pinkstuff
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« on: November 21, 2009, 04:35:44 AM »

How do you teach some-one to understand/hear music and keep time?  I occasionally dance with a friend who can't hear the '1' beat.  He doesn't have a musical background and just can't hear it, ever.  Any suggestions, he was asking me, and only thoughts I had were to listen to more music and try to hear the beat.  Am a terrible teacher and not good at explaining so any suggestions appreciated!!
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elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2009, 05:44:30 AM »

For some it helps to learn to listen to the drum or the bass-line of the music - they may actually never have realized that there are such!  He needs to listen to music off the dance floor - preferably with someone (you Wink) that can help him hear the elements.  Start out with something very simple - a march, beatles, hip-hop, whatever.  Point out the obvious (voice) but then the tune, the musical rhythm, the bass and the drum.  Eventually introduce then need a piece where there is discord - Frank Sinatra is a good example - where the tune has one rhythm and the music has another.
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ZPomeroy
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2009, 07:17:35 AM »

Throughout a song, the "1" beat usually receives slightly more emphasis. That doesn't mean it's louder. In fact, it may even be quieter than other beats. But it's deeper and feels like a down beat. It somehow has more presence and you'll have to learn to pick it up. There are some songs where it even feels like a hole in the music, making it easy to notice. The only way to get there is to listen to lots of music. Even listening for the beat count in non-dance music will help. After a while you'll find it quite easy to "feel" where the "1" beat is and you won't have to rely on hearing that first note to pick it up. Strict tempo music is easier for this purpose because it makes an effort to define the "1" more clearly, while chart hits will sometimes be quite uneven in their emphasis.

Zac
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cornutt
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2009, 10:58:33 AM »

These days, most casual music listeners focus on the lyrics.  (This didn't used to be the case.  My mom's generation was most likely to focus on the melody first; she often hums or sings la-la-la to the melody of a popular tune, but she seldom sings the lyrics.)  So one approach is to point out to them that if they can find the beginning of each line of the lyrics, that's usually in the vicinity of the 1 beat.
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TangoDancer
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2009, 03:52:14 AM »

So one approach is to point out to them that if they can find the beginning of each line of the lyrics, that's usually in the vicinity of the 1 beat.

This is a great cheat! However, to be more accurate, ZP's post is in the right direction.

Throughout a song, the "1" beat usually receives slightly more emphasis. That doesn't mean it's louder. In fact, it may even be quieter than other beats. But it's deeper and feels like a down beat. It somehow has more presence and you'll have to learn to pick it up. There are some songs where it even feels like a hole in the music, making it easy to notice. The only way to get there is to listen to lots of music. Even listening for the beat count in non-dance music will help. After a while you'll find it quite easy to "feel" where the "1" beat is and you won't have to rely on hearing that first note to pick it up. Strict tempo music is easier for this purpose because it makes an effort to define the "1" more clearly, while chart hits will sometimes be quite uneven in their emphasis.

Zac

Music is alive. It is played by humans, and so breathes as humans do. One must learn to hear and feel the breath of the music. To do this, simply hum along with it... not the whole thing, but a small enough portion to begin to feel where the breath begins and ends. This will teach one how to, not only find the one, but the 5 , and to begin to realize measures and repeats.

Lastly, remember that dancers hear music very differently than musicians. Whereas musicians are concerned w/ beats, dancers are concerned w/ the time in between.
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elisedance
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2009, 06:40:56 AM »

but I'm both a musician and a dancer... I don't sense that disparity at all.
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SwingWaltz
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« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2009, 09:28:39 AM »

Great topic! Well what strikes me is that after 4 years of dancing, I still don't understand rumba music. I can dance the cha cha on time, every time. They're essentially the same, you start on the 2. But some how with rumba, I either start on the 1 or the 3.   Angry I can only say that with music, sometimes it just "click", and other times it just doesn't.  Roll Eyes
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TangoDancer
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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2009, 03:56:10 PM »

but I'm both a musician and a dancer... I don't sense that disparity at all.

That is b/c you "are" both musician and dancer. So many are one 'or' the other who just happens to do the other, as well.   Wink
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The most beautiful part of the dance is often found in between the steps... and in the movement within the stillness.
elisedance
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 04:03:14 PM »

Nice comeback!!  Which means that I am not going to have to struggle to see the two perspectives Undecided
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TangoDancer
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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2009, 04:04:47 PM »

Nice comeback!!  Which means that I am not going to have to struggle to see the two perspectives Undecided

 Wink
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The most beautiful part of the dance is often found in between the steps... and in the movement within the stillness.
pinkstuff
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 04:27:39 PM »

Thanks Smiley

I find it hard to explain how to hear the '1' or he just doesn't understand, as teacher has the same result so somewhere we are lacking in our approach  Huh
Think I will try the cheat approach next!  It is hard to explain something that is easy for me (except as mentioned earlier by SW, the evil rumba!!!)
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cornutt
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2009, 04:43:52 PM »

but I'm both a musician and a dancer... I don't sense that disparity at all.

I understand what he means.  I came at dancing from a musician's perspective originally.  Not only did I have to learn to listen to music differently, I had to learn to move my body in response to music differently.
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ZPomeroy
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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2009, 03:12:09 AM »

but I'm both a musician and a dancer... I don't sense that disparity at all.

Same. Which is why my explanation was music based Wink

Zac
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elisedance
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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2009, 05:52:39 PM »

but I'm both a musician and a dancer... I don't sense that disparity at all.

Same. Which is why my explanation was music based Wink

Zac

So what IS it with these lesser mortals, oh Baccus..
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

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Rugby
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« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2009, 09:30:18 PM »

Zac[/quote]

Music is alive. It is played by humans, and so breathes as humans do. One must learn to hear and feel the breath of the music. To do this, simply hum along with it... not the whole thing, but a small enough portion to begin to feel where the breath begins and ends. This will teach one how to, not only find the one, but the 5 , and to begin to realize measures and repeats.

Lastly, remember that dancers hear music very differently than musicians. Whereas musicians are concerned w/ beats, dancers are concerned w/ the time in between.
[/quote]

Some of my friends that are musicians are terrible dancers because they focus on the beat so much they don't understand that you have to move the body inbetween the beats to arrive on the beat.  They try and move on the beat and are always chasing the music.  I try to tell them it is like a drummer that moves his arm up then down between the beats to create the next beat.  Or, take a breath after the one beat to create the next.  I took music lessons for two years (the clarinet) and I have been in athletics and dancing all my life so can understand the body mechanics of one and the musicality from the other perhaps a little easier.  If you can understand music and the body mechanics of movement you can become a more complete dancer.
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