Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Musicality via Feelings and Emotions

How to train your musicality via Feelings and Emotions  

There is some kind of mechanism within us, a mechanism which helps us to connect to music, which guides our movements so the music and dancers are proceeding connected, in harmony. Many times the dancers who base their dance on this mechanism experience that the music is moving them, they dance intuitively.

The most usual subjects on musicality courses are the structure of a song and/or how to count the beats or some other structures in music. This works well for the students with musical background but can be very ineffective for students with other background. It may even slow down the development and have a negative impact on their confidence. The situation for this group is similar to the one when they want to get a driving license and the community forces them to learn all the information in Japanese or in another unknown language. 

I had really hard time there!

Therefore I needed to find my own way to develop this intuitive musicality so I started to train myself by using my emotions and feeling of timing as tools.

The song's emotional impact
To explore the song's emotional impact on me I usually was sitting on the floor so I could freely move my upper body, arms and hands if I felt for a bodily expression to the song. This position gave me a possibility to large variation of movements as well as grade of intensity and size for gestures. I let the music invade me, let it activate my heart and little by little the emotional impact got stronger within me. On the dance floor my movements are maybe the same as earlier but the emotional expression is in place in a more powerful manner.

musical timing
For musical timing I walked when I was listening to songs. When I am out of the music, there is a dull feeling, a feeling of that something is missing. The opposite situation became more clear too: When I am on the music there is a kind of positive feeling. Soon I noticed that I was chasing that feeling, trying to get it more exact, trying to get a stronger feeling and I tried to keep that feeling continuously alive. I developed a violent passion for walking to music and an hour was just a starter. I nearly ruined my knees during the most intensive period!

During my first ten years of tango the ideas above were the only knowledge, the only musical training I had. I was totally unaware of beats, I heard them but I was not aware of them. It was a hell when a teacher asked us to step on ONE . I did not know but my musicality was appreciated by followers and they often comment on it positively.

The first bit of intellectual understanding and hearing the beats came after I studied 
Joaquin AmenĂ¡bars book about tango music. After two weeks of training, provided by his book I heard, for first time in my life, the beats clearly! I did not need to learn music terms, but through the exercises my body and ear were learning to work together in a new way.
This will never be the strong side in my dance but now, if needed, I can press my hearing to get the beats.

So my main point here is that you can be a totally intuitive dancer and still be doing ok, you can fix your training yourself and still offer some beautiful dances.

If you are interested about Joaquin AmenĂ¡bars book  Tango Let's dance to the music! you find more information via the link below. This book provided me the basic training but my friend who has high level educations (music teacher, composer) found the syncopation section especially worth to study.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My need to fit steps and sounds

In the office we had a long corridor to the luncheon restaurant. During our daily walk I noticed how uncomfortable I became when my colleagues did not synchronize their steps with each others. I was small talking, continuously monitoring the steps and doing double steps to improve the synchronization

To me this is a clear experience of a trait so important for us dancers when we are synchronizing our movements to music and to our partner’s movements. The lack of synchronization creates a negative feeling, feeling of distress and in that way driving us to a more accurate dance. On contrary when the fit is good enough there is the corresponding positive feeling!

During the first years I observed this need and feeling only on my own movements but one day I got a similar reaction while watching an old milonguero performing on video. There were sequences which activated a similar feeling as I had earlier had for my own steps and I realized that this old milonguero was synchronizing his steps to music in a similar way as I tried to do.

Most teachers allow us to film the class summaries, which I edit to a private video for learning purposes. In one video the milonguero couple danced relaxed and gave me a deep timing-feeling in my body during the different sequences with one exception. Later on I noticed that he started to sing during that one and suddenly I understood that we shared the out of timing feeling. By singing he wanted to emphasize the music to aid the synchronizing process. This was the only part of the video he was singing and this was the only part I did not get the timing-feeling in my body.

I think the best synchronization is achieved when you know the music by heart and you know your steps by heart. If you add a favorite partner you have released a lot of your mental resources for a relaxed dance and the chances to beautiful relationship with the music and steps are there for sure!

I am also sure that this need to synchronize our movements with others and with sounds is in every individual and by training this need and feeling are growing more clear and stronger helping us to improve our dance.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feeling of musical timing

The process of becoming a fluent speaker in your native language is quite similar to the process I have had to get the steps to flow to tango music; by communicating with the people around me. After reaching a certain level in your language you start to feel if the words are not in right order or if the verbs form is not correct, you don't know why, you just feel that it is not correct. In a similar way I also developed a feeling indicating that I am not stepping to music in a correct way, that I am not walking in music. Or the opposite!

There are many native speakers of a language who cannot answer the question: how many verbs you used in your speech? They have heard the words, the verbs, but they cannot tell the answer without training. For similar reason I cannot answer for the question if I am dancing the rhythm, or melody or something else.

When you are clearly aware of that feeling you can start to use it as an instrument for improving your musical precision.