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"Listen!!!" - Sonny Stitt's response to a young pianist backing him who asked what chord substitutions he was using on a well-known jazz standard.

Author Topic: Danceability  (Read 3931 times)

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Offline oddenda

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Re: Danceability
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2008, 02:32:14 AM »
They doin' the Funky Honky! (apologies to Dick Cavett, w. James Brown)

Peter B.

Online Johnm

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    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Danceability
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2011, 07:37:21 PM »
Hi all,
I've been going through a stretch where I've been doing a lot of transcriptions of historic recordings, and I've been struck by what a small percentage of Country Blues players from the early years in which the music was recorded were metrically consistent.  Prior to the 1930s, you would be hard put to find many players who maintained a metrically consistent and chordally consistent form from the beginning of a rendition to its end.  What's interesting is that the lack of metric consistency in no way affects the danceability of the music.

If you're old enough to have watched the old TV show, "American Bandstand", particularly when it was broadcast out of Philadelphia, you may remember a portion of the show when young couples rated a new song after listening to it being played once.  Almost invariably, the highest praise a song was given was when the young folks said, "It's got a good beat. You can dance to it.".  I don't believe any of them ever said, "I like the way the form and meter were maintained consistently throughout the course of the rendition, Dick."  I guess the point I'm trying to make is that danceability is not a function of regular and predictable meter or phrasing in music.  It's about pulse, and the life in that pulse and the backbeat that determine whether people are going to get up and shake.

And that is why some players who are not metrically regular, like Lightnin' Hopkins and Robert Belfour, were and are tremendous groovers and supreme dance musicians.  Those of you who saw Robert Belfour play his solo set at Port Townsend a few years ago know that however he may have varied his phrase lengths, his pulse and time were right there.  Or if you think of those Sleepy John Estes trio numbers where he was teamed up with Yank Rachell and Jab Jones, I don't reckon there's any problem keeping track of the beat on those recordings.

This is a long way of expressing appreciation to all the musicians down through the years who played strong time and didn't worry about everything being divisible by four.  Thanks to you all!
All best,
Johnm   

 


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