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    Default Counting beats while dancing

    I was wondering if it's necessary to count beats while dancing a routine? I haven't learned how to count beats yet. Does every dancer do it?

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PinkSugar View Post
    I was wondering if it's necessary to count beats while dancing a routine? I haven't learned how to count beats yet. Does every dancer do it?
    You need to dance on the beat and if you are dancing in a group you need some way to how you altogether. Many teachers use counting for this. Some use other methods - I mix counting with phrasing in the music.

    There are also a number of different ways to count. You can count like a metronome - ie steady beat. If using this with most Middle Eastern music you need to hear through the drum - if the count goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, the drum might go 1 2 5. You need to hear (and account for) the spaces. Or you can use just the heavy doms - dom dom ..... dom.

    Then, after ypu have learnt this (through many, many hours of listening) you have to let it all go once you step up onto the next level of dance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    You need to dance on the beat and if you are dancing in a group you need some way to how you altogether. Many teachers use counting for this. Some use other methods - I mix counting with phrasing in the music.

    There are also a number of different ways to count. You can count like a metronome - ie steady beat. If using this with most Middle Eastern music you need to hear through the drum - if the count goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, the drum might go 1 2 5. You need to hear (and account for) the spaces. Or you can use just the heavy doms - dom dom ..... dom.

    Then, after ypu have learnt this (through many, many hours of listening) you have to let it all go once you step up onto the next level of dance.

    Wow, so much to learn. I'm not familiar at all with counting beats, but I hope to learn.

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    AFK Moderator ~Diana~'s Avatar
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    yes and no. I do both. there are parts that you have to count beats. Then I also have some choerogrphies where I can dance by listening to the music only and the cues contained within. However I do tend to count a lot of the time anyway.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    1. Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
    2. Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
    3. Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
    4. Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners
    .
    ~ Attributed to Dick Crum, a folk dance teacher ~

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    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Not a lot to add to what Kashmir said... Dancing to the beat is the most elementary way of participating with the music but that is not to be dismissive at all. Because dancing to the beat means moving at the same speed as the music and this is of course vital.

    You don't especially need to count if you can just naturally hear the beat. Some people do and some people have to work at it a little bit. The benefits of it, beyond helping you move at the same speed, counting can help you learn to anticipate where changes in the music are going to happen, when the melody changes occur... even if you are not ready to dance to the melody quite yet - you'll want to get there and it's a step in that direction. It can help too if you plan on working with rhythms that are really unfamiliar to you, like something in the 9/8 family.

    The long term goal is to soak the music into your bones so that it is no longer a cerebral process but a visceral response. But for us foreigners we have to study a wee bit to get there.

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    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default well, from a technical point of view

    everybody dancing is counting the rythm, even in an unconscious way.

    Actually, there is no possibility to play music or dance without counting.

    The question is: what counting? Should it be 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 etc or else?

    From my own exprierience, having lived since the first time I remember myself in an environment full of music and dance, I fist started counting 1-2-3-4 the first time I had my first solfege lesson (I was 12 years old). Till then, I could easily sing and dance anything that would come up, from traditional dances in South Balkan area to tango, valse, latin, etc. I do not remember whether my home-performances have been good, but at least people around me were, first very strict about good performance, second, were very encouraging, third, they were never counting when dancing or when correcting me about dancing.

    So, solfege was really very difficult to get accustomed to and actually seemed silly to do, esp. when it is a rythmic solfege. But it helped me to face complicated melodies and be able to reproduce them easily, esp. concerning music that I was not familiar with.

    Today, when I dance I really do not count at first instance - I think this is the wrong way to approach music, esp the good one, because, guess what? music is not always in a countable pattern, so one should learn at the same time the parts that are "rubato/ad libitum" e.g. the parts where the musician is not following the rythmic pattern and the tempo of the music. It happens in oriental music more than in the western, because the training for oriental musicians is different than the westerners.

    THe other thing is that in many occasions, and this also had been happening in the West, till 19th century, when the metronome was invented and inner knowledge of rythm stopped being part of musical and dance education, the musician might delay or haste for a tiny part of the second without change the main rythmic pattern. F.ex. the rythm might be still 1-2-3-4, but 1 might last for more, but for so little more than it cannot fit any known rythmic pattern or muscial notation. It was never written on music sheets, but yes, Bach loved to play like that and all his contemporaries would do it (it is more or less like jazz way of playing music). So, it was danced the same way.

    Therefore, counting is useless in performances with live music - musicians tend to play within a pattern, but not like a metronome.

    The explanation is first for reasons of aesthetics - it might be better to play with rythm like that - second for practical reasons, e.g. most music was (and is) written to be danced or on dance patterns!!!

    On the other hand, I believe that any dancer should be able to count consciously the music he/she dances to, esp. when faced with music that is difficult, or when the dancer wants to make experiments, or try a new approach to the music or just check "why that step does not fit at all".

    But for training, I would insist in not counting, but in listening - listen the music as it is, e.g. as it is dancing itself: where do the music's steps go? I insist in that "way", because this is the only way to learn the inner rythm. Inner rythm sometimes is more loose than the 1-2-3-4 the counting mind might hear, sometimes is quicker, sometimes it is different than 1-2-3-4. Mind cannot realise this if it is busy with counting.

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    AFK Moderator ~Diana~'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walladah View Post
    everybody dancing is counting the rythm, even in an unconscious way.
    You make a very strong statement there. I happen to know that I have choreographies that I've never counted. I like to know where you get your view that it happens in a unconscious way? I work in academic reserach and my background is in psychology. I've never heard of anyone studying this, nor have come across any evidence to prove the point that people always count even if unconscious.


    Actually, there is no possibility to play music or dance without counting.
    This is true when first learning a song, unless you have heard it before and play by ear. I also have a background in music as well and I can tell you I do play a lot of music without counting. There are songs I've learned only by ear and never counted them out.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    1. Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
    2. Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
    3. Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
    4. Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners
    .
    ~ Attributed to Dick Crum, a folk dance teacher ~

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    Senior Member walladah's Avatar
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    Default Cheart99, the issue is how to define

    counting!

    I am sorry I cannot give you an academic answer to your question and the few things I know about cognitive psychology do not bother about those questions. Why don't you do that research yourself?

    But, I feel like anwering your question the way I understand it, even if my answer might be nonsense:

    I do not believe that "counting" in music and dance (one could also search the same in other forms of art, but let's talk about our thing) is the linear thing we learn in solfege 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3, etc.

    It is something more than that - I cannot explain it, it is as if anything we create by music, dance, etc and what we receive by music, dance etc, belongs to a mathemathical structure. I cannot know whether this structure is simple or not. Some theories exist about that, but I am not an expert in this, of course. And actually I feel that this is not simple arithmetics, I suspect it is more near stereometry and math of space that for some reason exist in music, dance etc.

    And, if what we seek in dance is beauty, we do not seek to creat linear things, like 1-2-3-4 and the rest. So, I trust the ability of an artist to feel the structure, or even better to become one with it, instead of counting 1-2-3-4 and lose all other information given by the simplest beledi-drum-play. This is why I can see and hear "counting" in music and dance but I can assure you that the better the music and dance, the less the counting is obvious and the more fun the artist and the audience have!

    It is not about complicated music or dance, but about something else that it cannot be reproduced by the metric or notation systems people have created. And we still do not talk about emotions, far from it.

    An example: In solfege, when you learn a beat of 3/4 you learn at first to count 1-2-3, 1-2-3. This rythm is also the main pattern of the valse dance. The "counting" is done by moving the hand down-right-up (creating an imaginary triangle in the air). However, when the solfege student advances, he/she learns that in quick 3/4, the counting is not 1-2-3 but just ONE movement of the hand and ONE counting of voice!! (even if the notes of the sheet are many in numbers within the same meter. The hand at this case creates a cyclical movement towards down and up in the air. Curiously, if you have seen quick valse dance, the movement of the body is just the same!!: one step with circle of the dancer! The rythm in the music sheet and in linear terms is 3/4 and we still have 3 parts in each meter, and this triple structure creates both the movement in solfege and the movement of the dancer . In music sheets, many times you will see for music in 3/4, instead of a metronome indication 120 or 148, an indication by the composer: Movimento de valzer or Mouvement de Valse. This means that the composer does not want the musician to play just quickly the 3/4, but also to give it the real form of music appropriate for the dance of valse.

    This is why I love middle eastern rythm patterns - they are not simple 4/4 etc, they are more than that. This is why, one cannot learn them by studying on paper only. We need to see them danced! And then dance them ourselves, too.

    So, in case one does not count 1-2-3-4 etc when dancing, it is because one is counting the real rythm and this is not done by using numbers, fortunately.

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    Thank you all for the replies

    So far I don't count. Like I said I am not familiar with counting beats yet, but I would like to learn. I was practicing a choreography with some students in my class and I didn't count the beats. I just knew the part of the song was coming and was able to time my moves without counting. Although, if I was performing by myself to this particular song counting the beats wouldn't be necessary, but since it was a group, a few seconds off here and there made a difference and can really throw the whole thing off. So counting beats while performing with other people, I believe is really helpful.

    Right now I'm just going to concentrate on the core movements of Raqs Sharqi so I can build upon that. One thing at a time, lol, I don't want to overwhelm myself, which I have a tendency to do!
    Last edited by PinkSugar; 11-17-2009 at 11:37 PM.

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    AFK Moderator ~Diana~'s Avatar
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    I am sorry I cannot give you an academic answer to your question and the few things I know about cognitive psychology do not bother about those questions. Why don't you do that research yourself?
    That's no problem. Sometimes I run into people who know of resources off hand, academics love sharing knowledge with each other. I'll do some research into this during my lunch breaks to see whats out there. This would be a fascinating area to research if I had the funding to do it.

    But, I feel like answering your question the way I understand it, even if my answer might be nonsense:
    No answer is nonsense, its only nonsense if it can't be explained to others.

    And, if what we seek in dance is beauty, we do not seek to creat linear things, like 1-2-3-4 and the rest. So, I trust the ability of an artist to feel the structure, or even better to become one with it, instead of counting 1-2-3-4 and lose all other information given by the simplest beledi-drum-play. This is why I can see and hear "counting" in music and dance but I can assure you that the better the music and dance, the less the counting is obvious and the more fun the artist and the audience have!
    Ok I think I'm getting what you are saying. Are you saying that its more like 'feeling' or when people say 'becoming one with the music'?

    This is why I love middle eastern rythm patterns - they are not simple 4/4 etc, they are more than that. This is why, one cannot learn them by studying on paper only. We need to see them danced! And then dance them ourselves, too.
    I totally agree with you here.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    1. Beginning dancer. Knows nothing.
    2. Intermediate dancer. Knows everything. Too good to dance with beginners.
    3. Hotshot dancer. Too good to dance with anyone.
    4. Advanced dancer. Dances everything. Especially with beginners
    .
    ~ Attributed to Dick Crum, a folk dance teacher ~

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