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  1. #41
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenc View Post
    I can recognise a waltz or a polka (they're both 3/4 time????). But I have no idea what that means in any meaningful way. Therefore, I can't recognise any unusual ME rythmns/time signatures. Ok so it's beats to the bar, but what does that mean in practical terms?
    The one does not quite follow the other, IMO.

    In practical terms (just my take on it), the bottom line is that you need to be able to hear the beat and recognise patterns in the rhythm so your dancing fits the music.

    Forget ME rhythms for a mo. Time signatures: can you hear the basic beat in a piece of music - is it going 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 like Baa baa black sheep, or 1-2-3, 1-2-3 like Oom-Pa-Pa out of Oliver? (Or something more complicated, like Take Five ). The time signature is a way of writing that down - top number is how many beats in the bar, bottom is what sort of length note they are. This page has a helpful exercise.

    With the two examples above the heavy beat is on the first beat of the bar, the rest of the beats are lighter. It's a pattern and you could turn it into Dums and teks: OOM pa pa, OOM pa pa, DUM tek tek, DUM tek tek...

    Keeping the same 123 rhythm, and keeping it as regular as a metronome - let's change it a bit: DUM DUM tek, DUM DUM tek.... or DUM DUM DUM, DUM DUM DUM,...
    Or try having the bars different: DUM DUM DUM tek tek tek, DUM DUM DUM tek tek tek...
    Try leaving a space intead of one of the beats: DUM DUM DUM tek tek tek, DUM DUM DUM tek tek tek...

    See how you change the feel and make different patterns (but don't change the time signature)? The ME rhythms are just recognisable patterns like that in which the placement of the heavy and light beats within the bars has been played about with (most are 4/4 or 2/4, I just chose 3/4 above cos the oom pa pa is an easily recognisable starting point).

    Recognising them is important for dancing because a) you know what's coming and can just let yourself just dance rather than thinking, and b) you can do the right thing. The particular pattern of heavy and light beats gives each rhythm its own feel and mood, and different moves and styles tend to fit with each - start hip drop/kicking with something that is usually used as a taqsim background and it will look wrong, even if you are on the beat, in the same way that doing a floaty oriental routine in ATS get-up is wrong. It just jars.

    It's useful to know the names for communication purposes. You cannot write the rhythms out as a string of dums and teks because it doesn't tell you the spacing. Personally I don't know how useful it is to tell a 2/4 from a 4/4 ME rhythm (unless you are talking the same language to a musician), as long as you recognise it as "ah, that one, it's going to do so&so for this long and these moves will work and those won't".

  2. #42
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    So my instinct feel that counting 1 - 8 messes me up is right? If I had to count like this and then make step work to the rythmn, it feels to me like I'm juggling 3 things instead of making a relationship between 2 things.

    like translating into French by going through Swedish

  3. #43
    Member RanyaRenee's Avatar
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    Sometimes dancers make the mistake of being more influenced by the lyrical line of the music and not being enough aware of the underlying rhythm. With a lot of Egyptian dance music, for example, the melody will kick in on the "2" count, so sometimes dancers only become aware of the new phrase on the 2.... but then they are a little late, because the phrase really began on the "1", with the "doum" drum downbeat. Being able to isolate the drum rhythm in your ears can help take that first step on the 1, and not on the 2. If you can notice how the rhythm and the melody interact, then you can feel both of them better, aware of the beat and the more emotional melody line.
    I actually used to have a terrible time with counting and finding the beat... one of my early teachers used to chuckle when i was playing my zills--i couldn't understand how i was off the beat... i couldn't hear it. I think this was the mistake i was making then; i was so enraptured by the melody line, i didn't see where the rhythmic cycle began or ended. Learning to play tabla (doumbek) was incredibly helpful in helping remedy this.

  4. #44
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenc View Post
    So my instinct feel that counting 1 - 8 messes me up is right? If I had to count like this and then make step work to the rythmn, it feels to me like I'm juggling 3 things instead of making a relationship between 2 things.

    like translating into French by going through Swedish
    Yes I think so. Because, I often find that when dancers explain things to do with rhythm etc, they explain it in non-musician terms. Perfectly sensibly and competently, and totally sufficient for dancing. I sometimes do a little adjustment in my head to relate it to musician knowledge. I recall doing a different type of dance and getting really confused as the teacher was saying 1, 2, 3 and, 1, 2, 3 and (as the movements were on 1, 2, 3), but I couldn't figure out what she was doing with the 4th beat, and she couldn't see my problem. Lost in translation. In music, 'and' would be something like an off beat whereas it was her 4 as we weren't moving. I don't think of ME rhythms in western music terms, I haven't converted them. But subconsciously I think I am drawing on it. So I can recount ME rhythms in dum and teks, not 1, 2 etc.

    I was thinking earlier too in relation to something you said somewhere else about doing 32 of something, that in relation to counting I'm not there in my head counting every beat, or every hip drop or anything like that. It's more like I can just hear that in the music if that makes sense. So like a drummer often does things in 4s, and I could pretty much tell you where we are in the bunch of 4 at any point. I've not counted it, but I guess subconsciously the music bit has. I think maybe that is now more confusing than helpful

  5. #45
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    No that is Ok, I usually know where I am in music that does do 4s - and tanything complicated with shifts of time signature counting 4 or 8 just won't work.

    Sometimes, when learning a new moove, or concentrating too hard, for whatever reasn, I can lose the rythmn, but not so that counting would help. I am numerically dislexic (I think it's called something like dyscalculic). I can do algebra, I can hear doums and tecs, but counting doesn't mean much

  6. #46
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    look what I found in the definition of discaulia

    Difficulty in activities requiring sequential processing, from the physical (such as dance steps)
    Particularly problems with differentiating between left and right.

    Now i understand why I hate choreos.

    I don't know when I should be going right or left, so I don't know which foot I should be on because I don't know what comes next - although I have a good memory for thewhole dance - only it appears in my head as all taking place at the same time!!!!

  7. #47
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenc View Post
    look what I found in the definition of discaulia

    Difficulty in activities requiring sequential processing, from the physical (such as dance steps)
    Particularly problems with differentiating between left and right.

    Now i understand why I hate choreos.

    I don't know when I should be going right or left, so I don't know which foot I should be on because I don't know what comes next - although I have a good memory for thewhole dance - only it appears in my head as all taking place at the same time!!!!
    I have sequencing problems, but not usually rhythm problems. In fact, I sometimes need dance moves counted out so I know how to do them in time. Choreographies are my weak point.

    If a rhythm is hard to hear, I start hitting myself repeatedly (that sounds bad, but it really isn't!). Usually my arm will automatically fall into the beat pattern. Then I start hitting myself harder on the heavy/loud beats. Then I count along. If counting is too hard, I speak DUH duh duh duh DUH duh duh duh (whatever fits with the music), and then try to count later.

    Also, you may need to have someone show you how to count in sub-beats. I'm not sure that I can explain it well, but the cool accents are usually on the odd bits of 1-and-2-and... or 1-and-a-2-and-a... or 1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a...if you can get a friend or teacher to count along to the music it may help you see how the accents fit into the numbers.

    I also thing that teachers shouting over the music, all the counts the same, is not helpful. Counting should always be in the same energy form as the music, to help students feel it. When all the counts are the same volume, or if the teacher is agitated, it distracts me from the music. I like it when the teacher alternates counting with "singing along" to the music (describing motions in our native language, or echoing the music for emphasis).

    But I can dance to some things I can't count, and there's other things that are too complex for me to count or dance to - I went to a Raquy and the Caveman concert - they are a bunch of fabulous musicians and complete rhythm geeks. I was amazed when I saw dancers dancing to it when they were encouraged to. I found it so complex, I didn't know where to begin. I don't know if anyone else has ever had that reaction to their music. Which is really awesome, BTW, but the stuff they played in concert was DENSE.

  8. #48
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    This conversation reminds me of when I was a little girl and first learning piano. I was entranced by music and even before my first lesson would spend hours just 'plunking' on an old piano that my parents had gotten. I just wanted to learn how to make pretty music.

    I started lessons, and I really hated anything that had to do with 'theory'. counting.. doing scales.. learning chords.. finger exercises... anything. I just wanted to play the notes on the music.. and learn that song. I couldn't understand how all of that other stuff was going to benefit me and the sad thing was, none of my early teachers ever took the time to tell me that if I learned that, I could do so much more than just play the notes on the page.

    A few years later, I started lessons again in my 20's with a very, very talented and knowledgable teacher, knowing that I was missing parts of the puzzle. I started doing those finger exercises, scales, chords.. I learned to count meticulously! And my ability at the piano became much better! I even performed in church and the counting helped me so much in other areas - such as leading choir, dance.. so much. Best of all with piano, I could now improvise! I could take a gospel song, or other song, and redo it how I wanted. I could play around the notes, all kinds of things, and still keep in time with what the song director was doing!

    I do think that learning to count is important, but you also have to put it with feeling the phrasing of the music too, because merely doing moves to the count can look sterile.

    It's like listening to someone play a concerto who has the notes in perfect timing and order, techinically perfect, but it doesn't move you. Another pianist could play the same piece however and move you to tears, because they've gone beyond just playing notes. Their phrasing and 'breath' of what they do transforms the notes into music. Maybe they even take a slight license here and there with the timing, but it is with a firm mastery of what they are doing.

    Anyway, not sure if that explained it or not.

    Knowing the basics frees you.. frees you to move beyond them and become the music in dance. Also, if you are thinking of doing choreography.. as I saw in the other thread, I feel it helps immensely!

    P.S. Welcome to the forum Ranya Renee! I hope you enjoy it very much.. and I'm looking forward to getting your Beladi DVD.
    Last edited by Phoebedances; 03-22-2009 at 04:38 AM.

  9. #49
    Member Bellydance Oz's Avatar
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    I firmly believe that whether you count or not is down to personal preference, and that preference is based on a mixture of previous musical training and natural rhythm.

    I'm rather like Karena - I don't count consciously, but obviously something in my subconscious is counting somewhere, because I can always tell you what beat of the music I'm on, and can hear the distinct bars and phrases. I used to think that was just my natural rhythm, but I suspect it's actually from learning to play piano and other musical instruments when I was little. I honestly can't remember my early lessons but am sure I would have had to learn counting.

    I literally can't count when I'm dancing, it totally puts me off. In fact, it's one of the main reasons I never really got past a certain level in flamenco: because there's a point where the interplay of foot, castanet and music rhythms become so complex, you simply can't coordinate them without counting. And since I couldn't count, I could never get it.

    Actually, some of the flamenco rhythms bamboozled me when I first started learning, too. I didn't deal with that by learning to count - I mastered it by learning to clap. Clapping is actually regarded as an instrument in flamenco (the clappers - palmeras - get paid more than the dancers). The equivalent in belly dance would be the drums. So I'd certainly suggest anyone having trouble with the rhythms to take a few drum lessons.

  10. #50
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    That's it - I prefer to single out the rythmn by singing the drum part (cos that doesn't require co-ordination of hands to differentiate between doum and tek! Or clap. I have started to do the singing the drum beat in the car listening to music on a regular basis, so that I can more easily pick out rythmn when dancing.

    actually have just realised that I do count - for anything going in a circle or very fast moves - especially where there isn't a very distinct musical phrase. In particular faast hip twists. I can't easily count any move that isn't competed in a one count though.

    And I feel that as so many moves require prepratino before the ONE that counting could get in the way.

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