Musical Interpretation with the 'Turn'.
Dearest Reader: A very important component in modern argentine Tango is the ‘turn’. Without the turn in the equation almost no one would be able to dance. Why ? While most people think or believe, and as is oft repeated, “Tango is a walking dance.” This is no longer the case. That being the state of the Tango world, then we as dancers need to understand the ‘turn’ and more importantly, how to apply it…musically. While anyone can perform a turn, which is easy once you’re over the hump of the steps you’re ‘supposed’ to do, the issue at that point is to apply it musically! And more importantly where to apply it. Today’s Tango Topic deals with the when and where but not the how. So without further yapping, a Musical ‘Turn’.
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Before we dive into talking about Musical Turns, we have to address a few things that will come up in reading this article –
1.) Tango Topics does not advocate the non-musical practice that some people teach or engage in known as ‘counting beats’ but rather understanding and then employing the 5 Musical Pause Types. Everything that Tango Topics advocates musically is built off this construct.
2.) In the instance of the Musical Turn, while we don’t have to hear a specific pause type, as is the case with the Argentine Cross, we do have to be able to hear them religiously without fail. This is one of those things that has to be so ingrained in you that you quite literally have to do it in your sleep. Sadly this process is not something that you can study for 5 minutes and then automagically be able to ‘get’. No! This is a process of a.) understanding. b.) application. and c.) practice, practice, practice with LOTS of corrective feedback. Fortunately this website has the necessary tools to help you to learn to discern this information for yourself! It will take you about 60 days of time to get the idea and once you do, your dance will never be the same. Ever.
3.) There is this erroneous belief that a lot of dancers engage in that the Lead is really the only person that needs to hear the music in order to access it. So the Follower shouldn’t really engage in hearing the music at all. They should just Follow what is being led. Ahem. This is so much of a ‘Not’! This article and nearly every article on this site advocates the role of the Passive Follower and the role of the Active Follower, and the role of the Follower in general. You’ll notice that nearly every article starts with the Follower’s Perspective because it’s that important! Here, in this instance, the reality is that the Follower must hear the beat. While they don’t necessarily need to hear the structure of the music, they do need to be acutely aware of the beat, and more important than that the time signature of the music. Constantly.
What is a Musical Turn ? First and foremost it is a ‘Turn’ or rotation that that the couple initiates within the line and lane of dance that can exist in one of three places in the music. 1.) The space between the musical pauses (which is what typically occurs). 2.) The actual musical pause itself, this is known as turning ‘On the Pause’. Or 3.) The notes just before or after the musical pause. 🙂
Secondly, a Musical Turn is a construct that starts, and ideally ends, on an accented note. That accent can be but is not limited to a Strong 1 of a 4 count, or it could be the odd lone accent note. However it can almost never exist inside a Sincopa structure, not without breaking the turn into paired movements. It can never exist inside a La Variacion (not socially) not without massive modifications to the structure of the ‘Turn’ in order to match the speed of La Variacion, and not without exacting precision in the execution of one’s technique. Otherwise it looks sloppy and appears ‘off’. A ‘Turn’ could be done off-beat, meaning on the upbeat and not the downbeat. However doing so can look, and more importantly ‘feel’ out of place. The only reason to do this is to extend your musical abilities, to flex your musical muscles. In other words, because you can. Which is to say, that just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean that you should do a thing.
In Tango music we typically walk on the strongest 1st note and the weaker 3, always. Hardly ever do we walk on the strong 2, and much weaker 4 (especially if it’s Biagi). In Vals we have several options where we can walk on the 1 (which is what typically happens), or the 1-2, or the 1-3, or the 2-3. However this article will not cover those aspects, as dancing to Vals is a whole different idea all together. Nor will this article cover Milonga, again…very different ideas and dynamics.
Thirdly a Musical Turn can be but is not limited to, as the accent of the dance itself. Because Tango is no longer a walking dance, but in fact a turning dance, the turn itself is the accent itself and becomes the entire construct of the dance.
What is meant by the word ‘Turn’ ? Most people when they hear the word ‘Turn’ they think of The Follower’s Molinete/Lead’s Giro construct. There’s a good reason for this line of thinking, it’s because this particular type of turn is the first turn that most people are taught. It’s also the one that they see repeated over and over again all night long while social dancing. It is the ubiquitous and common vocabulary. What they may not realize, what you may not realize, is that there are 7 other common turns that we have to choose from. Which are, in case you’re wondering: 1.) Walking Turns. 2.) Calesitas. 3.) The Linear Ocho Cortado or Circular Ocho Cortado. 4.) Rock Step Turns. 5.) Colgada & Volcada Turns (including Single Axis Turns which are in the Colgada family). 6.) Media Lunas (or “half-turns”). and finally 7.) The Milonguero Turn. If you’re having trouble visualizing these ideas, please visit the links so that you can see them in all their glory. 🙂
It’s important to recognize that we don’t just want to employ one single type of turn constantly. Further that sometimes it’s judicious for floorcraft purposes that the ubiquitous Follower’s Molinete/Lead Giro may not work due to space, time, and the ability of the dancer isn’t quite up to snuff (yet). So for these two reasons it’s important for us to begin to employ other types of turns and make it so that we’re just as facile with these other types of turns to create facility in our dance from a leading perspective as well as from a following perspective.
Hey!!!!! What happened to the Lead’s, Follower’s, and the Dancing Perspective parts of the Post …. ????? If you’re wondering where these very helpful and descriptive parts are at for this particular Tango Topic that tangotopics.com is known for ? They are still here, and you can see them for free, just scroll to the bottom of the page, and register. Or if you are a registered user (thank you), then just login above. Registration is a hassle! We know. But it’s free and you get a whole bunch of other stuff that can help you with your dance. So go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the Blue Articles button, and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Just scroll, register, and then read! Easy.
Why You Need This! Music is the foundation of the dance. Without it, duh, there is no dance. However, when it comes to Tango, things get complicated very quickly because unlike other social dances where you can fool around with the beat, you can do that in Tango too by the way, what you can’t do, and so many people do, is fool around with 5 Musical Pause Types! This is the holy grail of tango music. And unless you hear them, you’re going to have an awful nasty time social dancing. Most people just throw in any piece of vocabulary to a piece of music, moment after moment and after moment. But the 5 Pauses Types dictate very clearly what you want to do. Unfortunately, almost no one listens to that and we end up with ‘haphazard’ dancing that looks shall we say questionable and haphazard at best. So yeah, you need this, a lot. And because this particular musical topic deals with Walking, Milonguero Ochos, Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete, Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross, then it’s applied very differently, and you need to start applying that stuff to your musical interpretation to thereby clarify what it is that you are interpreting in the music. This is very different than just following a beat, this is using the pause with a piece of vocabulary that makes that music stand out! So yeah, you need this.
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About The Video. This video package comes in at 34m:57s in length in 3 Sections.
Section 5c1 – Turns – Not Technique – 00:06:51
Section 5c2 – Turns – With a Metronome – 00:20:57
Section 5c3 – Turns – With Music – 00:07:09
Pre Requisites for Musical Interpretation Section 5c
1.) Musical Interpretation 1 & 2 with the 6 Walking Systems
2.) Musical Interpretation 3 & 4 with Alternation & Symmetry
3.) Musical Interpretation 5a with Traveling Ochos
4.) Musical Interpretation 5b with The Argentine Cross
This video is NOT for sale. You can only view it with a Tango Topics Subscription.
The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.
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Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’ or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!
You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister. Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!
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