001: How To Use Musical Gears to Improve Your Musicality
Musical gears is a term I coined to explain the basic timings that are present in a lot of music we have today. Producers use these very frequently when creating patterns of the different musical elements we hear in a song. I like term gears analogy as it refers to driving a car with manual transmission where you can cruise at different speeds.
When you really start to sit and listen and analyze the songs, you will start to pick up on the patterns of the different musical elements. You will notice that some elements repeat on different timings, and other times only in certain sections of a song. In the diagram you will notice I’m just using an 8-count as the longest timing, however, some musical elements occur every 16 counts, or 32 counts, or sometimes maybe only even once or twice in a song.
When your mind, or really your ear awareness starts to expand, you can easily get overwhelmed with all of the changes that are happening within a song. There’s the patterns of the bass beat, the lyrics, the sections of the song and how long they last, melodies, accents, vibe, and literal translation of the song.
From the many musicality courses I have taken and taught over the years, I find that it is very easy for a student to become overwhelmed trying to become more musical in their lead and follow. Becoming aware of every element in a song over a short period of time can feel like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant, there’s just too much going on at once to really make an impact to improve a dancer’s musical awareness and execution in their dancing.
This realization and frustration as an instructor who really wants to help people improve their dancing led to me creating a new learning layout. In “Spoonfuls of Musicality” my main goal is to break down these musicality concepts into small spoonfuls of information that we can use to create very specific drills and bits of information to consume.
Here are some questions to help you increase your self-awareness among music:
- What timings do you find yourself dancing on the most while practicing or social dancing?
- Are you able to express one timing with a certain body part or section while using another body part to express another pattern?
- Have you ever notated the elements of the song to recognize their pattern and how many counts there are between each occurrence?
Once you become familiar with your own musicality habits and also the patterns of the musical elements of the song, I’m sure you will see how often the different musical gears come up. With this realization I feel the next logical step is to drill common kiz steps and moves across ALL of the musical gears. Doing so will get you very comfortable in being able to control, isolate, and flow through each of these timings, allowing you to more confidently express each musical element as you wish.
Here are some free resources to help you along your musicality journey!