STAR STUDIO of MUSIC and DANCE 

TUTOR: Barbara Whitnell BBO; NZAMD; MSM Dip; Licensed Kindermusik Educator

Shop 1, Pioneer Village, 7 Albany Highway, Armadale WA 6112    Ph 9390 4993

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DANCE RHYTHMS

Tap Rhythms - Tap Beats - Additional Comments - Jazz - Choice of Music

TAP RHYTHMS

Tap rhythms are based on the musical rhythms provided for us to dance to.  Of course not all rhythms need to be in the form of music, it can be in the form of percussion (usually non-pitched), but can also be a culmination of rhythms generated by tap dancers, that is - without any form of backing accompaniment at all!

The choice of music though, usually determines the type of dance rhythms to be applied.  Music takes in many forms or rhythmical patterns.  The basic terminology for tap rhythms as I know it is:

  • Slow 4/4 (compound time) approximately 80 beats per minute (80mm)
  • Medium 4/4 (compound time) approx. 120 beats per minute (120mm)
  • Standard Rhythm 4/4 (compound time) 160 beats per minute (140mm)
  • Buck or Speed (Fast) 2/2 (simple time) 100 mm (or 200mm 4/4 time)
  • "Baby" Buck 2/2 (simple time) starting from 55mm (or 110mm 4/4)
  • Waltz 3/4 (Swing) (compound time) approx 90mm
  • Waltz 3/4 (Strict) (simple time) approx 120mm
  • 5/4 timing (simple time) approx 130mm
  • Latin/tango 4/4 (strict) 120mm

OTHER MUSIC RHYTHMS that could be danced to, include:

  • 6/8 timing (compound time) approx 120mm
  • 8 beat rock 4/4 (simple time) varying between 110mm and 160mm
  • Hip hop 4/4 (compound time usually) approx 105mm  - can be used as syncopated medium speed or simple time - (similar to Baby Buck)
  • Disco 2/2 (simple time) same as Buck - 100mm

The terminology of dance rhythm names may vary between countries and/or states.

DANCE ROUTINES and RHYTHM

Dance routines may be one selected speed (tempo), or a mix of tempos utilising various musical rhythms.

What I find on a number of occasions is that some music that is selected for particular competitive work does not complement the rhythmical beating of the dancer. (Eg: waltz simple time music, having compound time rhythmical beating.)

Music in compound time should generally only have compound time rhythmical beating applied (as opposed to simple time rhythmical beating).  The converse applies also.

I guess it's like a drummer playing a wrong rhythm to a song. Whilst it's not completely out of time, the intricate rhythms generated from the drums can sometime be (accidently) quite separate from that of the rhythm guitarist. To the listener, it sounds "okay", but it doesn't really "gel" right!  I guess it could raise the question about how much knowledge the drummer really has when it comes to applying rhythmical patterns to a song!

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TAP BEATS and RHYTHMICAL BEATING (generated by tap dancing)

Rhythmical beating can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you wish.  There is no limit!

I guess tap dancing and the rhythmical beats generated could be said to be basically similar to that of a percussion instrument - similar to that produced from a drum kit.

The types of sounds generated from taps are similar to that of the bass drum, snare and high hat.

Beats are emphasised to give a "melodic" rhythmical feel.

The ability to produce beats with ease is no easy task at the best of times, particularly for more intricate beating.

Some styles of tap dancing use more simple beating involving in extension and elevation.  Other styles result in tap work being executed more into the ground.

Syncopated rhythmical beating can to the "untuned" ear, appear to be "out of time", but mastering the art of creating and dancing using syncopated applications can enhance a performance.

The utilisation of tap beats applied to a specific rhythm and tempo, can also vary and be choreographed in a way that reflects the style of music.  Usually this is referred to as the "interpretation of music".  

Music quite often has simple phrases throughout an arrangement that are emphasised on certain beats throughout a bar, particularly big band music, which lends itself to carefully choreographed work.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

In association with executing beats is the way in which the work is presented and projected through the use of body, head and arms.

These extra skills come with experience and confidence as a pupil masters the foot work.

Applying rhythmical tapping in a group situation can sometimes be quite daunting - let alone everyone starting a certain step on the correct foot, or using the correct arm!  It is for this reason that some tutors carefully choreograph routines to reflect more basic beating and simple steps for a group of pupils to adhere to - that improves uniformity, (particular for less experienced dancers) as opposed to injecting difficult work where synchronised moves and clarity of beating are more difficult to be effected.

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JAZZ DANCING

I prefer to teach jazz dancing using 8 beat rock rhythms, swing rhythms and disco rhythms.

HIP HOP

Is taught generally using music at approximately 105mm tempo.

CHARACTERISED DANCE

This category of dance may utilise many types of rhythms depending on the theme of the song or songs.

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CHOICE OF MUSIC

The choice of music is often critical when it comes to performing a tap or jazz dance item.  Quite often I have had pupils who have chosen a song, only to find it is not suitable.  The reason it may not be suitable is because of the rhythmical requirements that a piece of music generates.  This requirement may be beyond the ability of the individual particularly if they haven't already learnt suitable and adequate steps that suit the rhythm.  It could also be the arrangement or phrasing of the music that is lacking.  The other reason may be that the "chosen" piece might not a suitable rhythm to dance to (from a competitive point of view).

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