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RHYTHMIC FORMS IN MY DANCES

Taken from dance music tradition

Each dance type has its own underlying rhythm that never stops so dancers can always repeat the basic steps to it. Dance steps are after all are what it was originally about. This underlying rhythm, like the basic steps themselves, may be decorated, varied or explored in many ways but that rhythm at the very least is in there somewhere.

My use of tradition

In my take on dance I always keep my underlying rhythm going. It may be decorated, varied or explored but the rhythm is always in there somewhere (so you could always repeat the same dance steps to it hence it’s a dance in the terms above) but there are two steps(!) extending this idea that make my dance forms new.

Two steps beyond tradition

The first is that the beats are not all the same length. It’s as if a “weird waltz” had beats one and two the same length but the third beat longer and this kept going from beginning to end.

The second step exploits these different beat lengths to create a rival rhythm. Take any beat length from the weird waltz, it does not matter which, and repeat it continuously. You get a regular rhythm. Play this against the main rhythm and you have a cross rhythm with a sustained rival rhythmic line.

My dance form

The shape of my dances is easy to hear. In alternate sections the lines are rhythmically together then apart. Sections of the main rhythm alone alternate with sections where one (or more) of the beats is repeated as a cross rhythm against it. The sections are very simple and clear.

Like all simple clear designs it is very strong and adaptable. Its potential is vast and it lends itself to all kinds of developments, moods and lengths, exploring the energies in repetition and cross rhythm.

The range of this form

It can get complex. The cross rhythm technique can build up into many different chains of repeating cross rhythms simultaneously. This creates clear strong counterpoint and lots of rhythmic energy with changes of mood and texture all within the dance. See for example the three extracts in Dance Mazes.

Dances can also be very simple by keeping differences in beat length and figuration to a minimum. See for example Elegant and Stylish.

Audiences understand dance

Dance built on repeating rhythms is familiar to everybody including those who never take an interest in concert music. In addition the form in my dances is very clearly signalled section by section because the main rhythm alone and the cross rhythms alternate. This means it would be easy to give an audience a straightforward and enjoyable way into these pieces.

[I am no choreographer but……

These works are inspired by dance but are music that stands alone in its own right. Despite this I have an image of how this music is danced to. During the sections of the main rhythm alone everyone is dancing to one pattern. The step done on any beat that will become a cross rhythm has its own repeatable characterful step . Every time a cross rhythm begins some dancers repeat the step they did to that beat over and over with the cross rhythm and some keep the whole step pattern going; then everyone comes back together when the main rhythm alone returns].


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