Elements of Music

As Related To Dance

This is about a 10-15 minute presentation


Connecting with the music

Staying connected with the music is a very common problem in the beginning. However, with practice you can stay connected. Some people have the ability to completely tune out everything except the one thing on which they are concentrating. You must develop the ability to “listen to the music” and concentrate on what you are trying to learn.


Universal Unit System (TM)

Is a complete system of dance notation and education whose basis lies in the discovery by Skippy Blair of the “Rhythm Unit” which is comprised of 2 beats of music in 4/4 time and 3 beats of music in 3/4 time. Also see Universal Unit System (TM) in Raper’s Dance Dictionary and refer to Skippy Blair’s Dance Terminology Notebook.


Beat of Music

Refers to the “heartbeat of the music.” This is analogous to the heartbeat of an animal. The hearts of different types of animals beat a different speed (tempo), just as different types of music have different rates of speed (tempo). Also see Beat of Music in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.


Musicians Count vs Dancers Count

Also see Measure (Dance v. Musicians) in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Musicians Count

Musicians use 1e&a 2e&a 3e&a, etc. Musicians need to know what happens on the beat and after the beat. Advanced musicians also are very familiar with the “Rolling Count” also known as the “Dancers Count” which follows: Also see Musicians Count in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Dancers Count

Dancers use &a1 &a2 &a3, etc. Dancers need to know what to do before the beat.

Time Signature

All dancers hear is either 3/4 Time or 4/4 Time. It doesn’t make any difference what time signature the music is written in.

Also see Musician’s Count in Raper’s Dance Dictionary


Rhythm Measures/Units

A Rhythm Measure/Unit indicates the number of weight changes (steps) that occur within a given number of beats of music. Also see Rhythm Measures/Units in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

4/4 Time vs 3/4 Time

4/4 Time: A Rhythm Measure/Unit contains 2 beats of Music
3/4 Time: A Rhythm Measure/Unit contains 3 beats of Music

Even vs Odd Rhythm Measures/Units

Please note that in the following descriptions the “X” indicates a weight change (Step) and the “/” indicates a beat of music (no weight change). Also see Even Rhythm and Odd Rhythm in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Even Rhythm Measures/Units
(1) Leaves the same foot free
(2) Even number of weight changes (steps) within the Unit (0,2,4,etc.) – [/ /] or [X X], etc.

Odd Rhythm Measures/Units
(1) Leaves the opposite foot free
(2) Odd number of weight changes (steps) within the Unit (1,3,etc.) – [X /] or [ / X] or [X x X], etc.

In 4/4 Time a Rhythm Unit = 2 beats of music

DEMONSTRATE (Unit Cards) – 4/4 Time
“X” or “x” Indicates Weight Change (Step)
“/” Indicates a Beat of Music during which nothing or something else is happening – not a weight change.

Even Rhythm Measures/Units – 4/4 Time
Double Rhythm Measure/Unit(Even): 2 steps in 2 beats of music, stepping on the beats – [X X].
Blank Rhythm Measure/Unit (Even): No weight changes within the Rhythm Unit (0) – [/ /].

Odd Rhythm Measures/Units – 4/4 Time
Single Rhythm Measure/Unit (Odd): – 1 step in 2 beats of music, stepping on 1st beat – [X /].
Delayed Single Rhythm Measure/Unit (Odd): – 1 step in 2 beats of music, stepping on 2nd beat – [/ X]
Triple Rhythm Unit (Odd): – 3 steps in 2 beats of music, stepping on the beats and the “&” between the beats – [X x X].

In 3/4 Time (Waltz Time) a Rhythm Measure/Unit = 3 beats of music

DEMONSTRATE (Unit Cards) – 3/4 Time
[&a1 &a2 &a3] [&a4 &a5 &a6].
Dots: Weight Change (Step).
Slashes: A Beat of Music during which nothing or something else is happening – not a weight change.

Triple Rhythm Measure/Unit (Odd)
(1) Odd Rhythm Measure/Unit.
(2) 3 steps to 3 beats of music, stepping on the beats.

Single Rhythm Measure/Unit (Odd)
(1) Odd Rhythm Measure/Unit.
(2) 1 step to 3 beats of music, stepping only on the first beat.

Down Beat v. Up Beat

Also see Down Beat and Up Beat in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Down Beat
The “1st beat” of every Rhythm Measure/Unit.

Up Beat
4/4 Time: The “2nd beat” of every Rhythm Measure/Unit.
3/4 Time: The “2nd & 3rd beats” of every Rhythm Measure/Unit.


P A T T E R N S

Rhythm Pattern

Is composed 2 or more Rhythm Measures/Units. Also see Rhythm Pattern in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Step Pattern

Is A Rhythm Pattern with direction. Also see Step Pattern in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Absolute Pattern: Is done alone. Also see Absolute Pattern in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.
Adjusted Pattern: Is done with a partner. Also see Adjusted Pattern in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.


P H R A S I N G

All music phrases to some specific “Musical Skeleton”. Discovering how to hear the phrasing in a piece of music allows the dancer to be more creative. Also see Phrasing in Raper’s Dance Dictionary.

Mini Phrase

3/4 Time = 6 beats of music
4/4 Time = 8 beats of music


*** REVIEW ***

Connecting with the music
You must develop the ability to “listen to the music” and concentrate on what you are trying to learn.
Beat of Music
Heartbeat of the music.
Tempo
Speed of the music.
Rhythm Measure/Unit
2 beats in 4/4 Time, 3 beats in 3/4 Time.
Even Rhythm Measure/Unit
Even number of weight changes (steps) within the Rhythm Measure/Unit (0,2,4,etc.)
Odd Rhythm Measure/Unit
Odd number of weight changes (steps) within the Rhythm Measure/Unit (1,3,etc.)
Down Beat
1st beat of every Rhythm Measure/Unit.
Up Beat
2nd beat in 4/4 Time, 2nd & 3rd beats in 3/4 Time.
Pulse
A regularly recurring “accent” within each Rhythm Measure/Unit.
Rhythm Pattern
2 or more Rhythm Measure/Units.
Step Pattern
A Rhythm Pattern with direction.
Mini Phrase
4/4 Time = 8 beats of music – 4 Rhythm Measures/Units.
3/4 Time = 6 beats of music – 2 Rhythm Measures/Units.

*** Q U E S T I O N S ***

  • 1. In 4/4 Time – How many Beats per Rhythm Measure/Unit?
  • 2. In 3/4 Time – How many Beats per Rhythm Measure/Unit?
  • 3. Where is the Down Beat?
  • 4. Where is the Up Beat?
  • 5. What is the difference between a “Rhythm Pattern” and a “Step Pattern”?