Archives for posts with tag: Musical composition

Paul Pavey ` wolf instruments`` Visual and Aural Counterpoint `. In Part 1, the previous blog, I covered my approach to commencing a dance improvisation class. This is the continuation where I will attempt to write about the use of counterpoint between what you see and what you hear.

Whereas in a technique class, the musical accompaniment  supports and follows the movement sequence, in an improvisation class the music may take on a compositional aspect. I always look for opportunities to play some `visual and aural counterpoint` which may increase the effect and experience of any given situation. For example; open atmospheric sounds against fast frenzied movement or happy and jolly musical themes against melancholy or aggressive movement.

Only using counterpoint may prove less effective than if it is used after a period where the music has followed either movement or a narrative. Counterpoint is neither easily understood by  children or inexperienced dancers/ performers and can lead to confusion. I would usually avoid it when playing for  those type of classes.

Here is a clip of Foofwa d’Imobilité interviewing Merce Cunningham discussing a point that music and dance do not always noticeably `fit` together and how and possibly why an audience is now accepting of that.

I think that aural and visual counterpoint increases the effect upon a third party/ audience providing it is used with purpose.  Definitely an effective tool in the creative box!


`Support` is a key word as far as  musical accompaniment goes, especially for the center exercises of a dance class. Here the dancer is building strength while working at both core stability and flexibility requiring  secure musical accompaniment.

Given that the  correct meter and underlying rhythm for the exercise is known (guidelines found in the previous blog), it is then important to gauge the amount of  lightness or heaviness that each exercise requires within the music. This may well be determined from the voice of the teacher as they show the exercise or deliver the introduction.  Here are a few rules of thumb (avoiding dance and music terminology where possible) that I generally apply when figuring out what to play for an exercise in the center.

exercises focusing on feet:  Music that is light and precise with clear rhythms. Avoid using too many notes or complicated cross-rhythms.

exercises with lunging movements:  Music that has a good strong downbeat with both lighter and driving recovery beats.

balancing exercises (legs in the air etc.):   Music with a steady and continuous  rhythmical  pattern.  A simple melody can help to `ease the dancers strain` over a full, rich harmonic progression (though not too heavy-handed).

floor rolling exercises:  Keep a clear beat to the music.  A drawn-out swing beat works well as it has both an underlying 2 and  3 within its  rhythm.  Not too loud and more harmonic than melodic in approach.

leg and body swing exercises:   Music that has both a driving upbeat feel and a strong downbeat. The upbeats can be slightly syncopated.

twist and tilt exercises:  Music that has a good clear beat and a supportive  continuous rhythmical pattern.

It is worth remembering that while music for a dance class exercise  is not a composition, it is  a piece of music that someone is both listening  and dancing to.  So, once you have figured out the underlying rhythm and tempo, the meter, the phrasing, the atmosphere and how many times the movement will repeat, enjoy it!