Expressing the music

West Coast Swing Online Styling

No, this post isn’t about making literal noises. It’s about finding ways that your body can express noises in the music.

Most of us learned to start hitting accents with our feet. What champion dancers do well is figuring out how to use all of their bodies in order to hit accents—and then choosing the proper body part for a specific noise.

Some body parts are suited to fast movements, like feet and shoulders. Other parts, like the arms, require longer times to complete the movement. Some parts, like the ribcage, can do a single fast hit but can’t do a series of quick movements. And some parts are great for longer, sustained motions (think hip circles).

Your job is to find the right parts for the right noises.

The Drill: Put on a song that has lots of accents. Almost anything by Michael Jackson will work great because his vocal style has lots of independent noises, but you can also pick songs like Down the Road, Thrift Shop (beware of explicit lyrics), or Down with the Trumpets. Try moving your body to the song’s accents, while you focus on feeling what kinds of body movements fit with what sorts of noises (or combinations of noises).

As you get more comfortable with how your body can move and isolate, you’ll find new ways to express the noises in the song.

Bonus Variations: Once you’ve found body parts that can hit the noises appropriately, you can start listening for even more nuanced elements. Is the noise rising or falling, and can your body mimic that? Is the noise smooth or jagged? Is it one noise, or a series of noises in a row? Does the noise stop sharply or fade? All of these elements are available for you to use in your own musical interpretation, so see what you can find!

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