Music in DanceSport
DanceSport is a discipline based on Sound-Movement combination and is therefore directly connected to music.
A DanceSport adjudicator needs a general knowledge of musical elements in order to permit a correct evaluation of a couple's coordinative skills in relation to this element.
The explanation hereunder is limited to a specific technical analysis for the purposes of DanceSport in order to understand the essentials of music and its structure, and is not to be considered a complete musical deﬁnition (a dancer, teacher or judge does not need to be a musician).
The two major components used to construct a musical composition are Melody and Rhythm.
Melody (Melodic Line) is the tune of the composition, constructed through a series of rhythmically organised single notes (pitches or tones) and expressed horizontally (when written on a pentagram) as a single entity (or Poetic Line).
Just as written or spoken language is divided into sentences and paragraphs, a Melody is often made up of one or more musical phrases, which are repeated throughout a song or piece.
These are usually composed of 8 Bars.
A Chorus is a series of four musical phrases and is usually composed of 32 Bars.
The melodic cadences, which are configurations of notes used to signal the end of a phrase or chorus, often called "movement" and "rest" help a well-trained ear to recognise the Phrasing of a composition.
For a dancer, the end of a chorus should coincide precisely with the end of an amalgamation of figures.
Rhythm is a regulated succession of strong and weak pulsations or Beats of equal duration.
DanceSport is based mainly on the interpretation of these rhythmical accents.
The Accent (strength) of each Beat may be “strong”, "medium" or "weak".
The basic rhythm of each dance is organised into Bars (or Measures) of 2, 3, or 4 Beats, using different types of percussive accents (Simple Time).
On a pentagram, the Time Signature is described in the form of a fraction where the "numerator" indicates the number of Beats contained in one Bar and the "denominator" indicates the theoretical musical value of each Beat.
The Time Signature of all Standard dances and their percussive accents in simple time are as follows:
Tempo is the speed of the music and it is measured in Bars per Minute in DanceSport.
The Tempos of the Standard and Latin American dances are indicated below:
Tempo (Bar per minute)
Viennese Waltz 58-60
Slow Fox 28-30
In DanceSport the basic rhythm is varied through syncopations used to increase the speed of the action.
When this occurs the counts “a" and "&” are used:
- a indicates a 1/4 Beat
- & or and indicates a 1/2 Beat
In Dance we use the word syncopation to indicate a Beat that is split into parts.
The syncopation is always associated with the preceding Whole Beat (value = 1), from which the value of the syncopation is subtracted (e.g. "1 a 2" = 3/4 % "1 & 2" = ‘/1 ‘/1 1).
A Slow Step should be executed placing the foot on the first Beat of music and completing the transfer of weight on the second beat in order to be considered ”on time".
The Foot Placement may only be delayed if the Slow Step is a foot closure.
When in music with 3/4 time signature the number of steps contained in a ﬁgure is inferior to the number of Beats used; more Beats will be used on some steps.
The division of Beats in relation to the step is at the discretion of the dancer, however for the purpose of clarity the division given in charts is the most obvious one.
Unconventional timing in choreographic sequences
In 4/4 dances choreographic sequences with the timing QSQ may be used (e.g. Heel Pull Finish or a type of ﬁgure that is not included in the basic syllabus, e.g. Lunge Roll in Slow Fox).
A music composition normally includes a 4-Bars introduction followed by a chorus structure made up of four phrases.
The melodic phrase will usually be similar in the first two phrases (A’and A"), change completely in the third phrase (B) and return to the original (A’) in the concluding phrase.
The figure below is a visual representation of the concepts explained in this chapter.