Musicality can be a recurring issue for many social dancers. For some of us it starts off with simply learning to hear and then keep time. That's just the beginning. Then we need to start expressing the feel and emotion of the music in our dance. This is more intuitive and a little more mysterious than simply keeping time.
Because it is more intuitive, it is not as easy to find instructions or exercises that will improve this aspect of musicality. However, you can learn a lot from people who have already established their musical ability. What do successful musicians tell us about music and musicality?
You might not be a big fan of Dave Grohl, I am not personally, but he certainly loves music, has been committed to it and shown considerable ability performing it. Last Friday was Good Friday (a holiday where I live). As I was driving to my mother’s for lunch and anticipating fish and chips, I was listening to the radio and heard a key note speech by Dave Grohl on what he thought music was. You can watch it below.
However, the key point I got from the speech was that musicians hear much more in music than just the instruments – At 4:44 into the video, Dave talks about his experience hearing Edgar Winter’s ‘Frankenstein’. He talks about how he can hear voices for each musician via the instruments that they played. This was new to me and I think it reveals a new perspective on how you can develop your own musicality.
Take a listen to Edgar Winter’s ‘Frankenstein’ below.
It really does have a different voice for each instrument. Try listening to it and imagine how you might dance differently to each section. Each is so different that it gives you a real chance to put some serious effort into changing style. You might not ever dance to this music (probably not; it gets a bit hairy at times), but its diversity makes it an excellent piece to practice your musicality with. You might even find that you need to make up some dance moves for some of the music – and that’s got to help make your dance musicality better too.
It is possibly worth listening to all of Dave Grohl’s speech too: especially if you’re a musician. He has a lot to say about our attitude to music and some of these ideas could carry over to help your musicality.