The Elements of Music

dance kizomba musicality Feb 05, 2021

If you want to learn more about music and musicality, no matter if you dance kizomba or any other dance, this is a good place to start. Music is built on the interplay of three things:   

  • Rhythm
  • Melody
  • Harmony‚Ä®

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these elements.

This is an excerpt from my book about musicality - "The Secrets of Musicality for Dancers - Learning Nine Essential Skills for Musicality in Dance" Just click the link. 

Rhythm is essential for music. It is the element of time in music. When we clap our hands or tap our foot to the music, we are expressing one part of rhythm, the pulse. 

Just like most things in nature, like the heart, the waves on the beach or the night and day rhythm, all music has a pulse, at a specific tempo. This is the same as when we often talk about beat, and the beat of music. From now on we will use the word beat instead of pulse, as I think it is more common among dancers. The tempo of this beat is what we often call BPM (Beats Per Minute). We don’t hear the beat all the time, it is not always represented in the music, but it is there. The BPM can increase or decrease, but it usually stays the same throughout a song.

Rhythm is built on this beat, but rhythm is not only a constant beat. The beat is like a framework or a skeleton on which the rhythm is built. The rhythm is how the sounds are placed in time, how they are interspersed and the duration of them, all in relation to this beat. The different sounds that create the rhythm can be placed both on this beat, but also off. And it is the different placements of notes that create the rhythm.

The melody is what makes us immediately recognize a song.  It is what makes a song really unique. It is what we would normally try to sing if we want to explain to a friend what song we are thinking of.

If only the percussion or the bass line is played it can be very hard to recognize the music, but if someone sings or plays the melody we usually can. It expresses an element of time in music, with the addition of different pitches. 

The melody consists of two things. We need different notes played one after another. This gives us the ups and downs of the melody. But, to create melody we also need a rhythm element. We need to have the duration of those sounds, for how long a note is played. Together, these two create the melody and make it recognizable.

The harmony often sets the feeling of a song and is a combination of sounds. It is what is produced when more notes are played together. If the melody is how the music progresses over time, the harmony describes the music at each point in time.

Harmony can be produced with one instrument when several notes are played at the same time. Together the different notes produce chords. Harmony can also be created with several instruments when different notes from different instruments interact.

When we talk about harmony we also often talk about consonance and dissonance. Consonance is when chords sound smooth and pretty soft. Dissonance is when it sounds harsher, and these chords create a certain tension. 

The harmony can often create different feelings in us, depending on the different combinations of chords played.

That's it! If you liked it, feel free to share!

See you on the dance floor!

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