How to find the beats on Salsa?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by granrey, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Lola

    Lola Sonero

    Kudos on being able to find the clave...(or implied clave). It took me three months to consistently hear it once I started looking for it.

    However, you don't really worry about that for the beginning stages of salsa dancing. Though I've noticed that as they advance the dancers who can find the clave have much better musicality. But in the beginning it was of no help to these guys and trying to find it hindered their ability to utilize the 8 counts properly.

    Plus the beats you mentioned aren't quite right on the clave. In the Definition of Dancing On2 by Steven Shaw, a great article for finding the clave, put it this way: "...the 2/3 clave instrument taps out 2, 3, 5, 6 1/2, 8... And the 3/2 clave taps out 1, 2 1/2, 4, 6, 7... " He goes on to tell you what steps we take on those beats, but as it is for On2 I didn't want to confuse you.

    Count the beat out loud 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. If you're a guy left foot forward on 1, right foot back on 5, if you're a girl switch those counts. The pauses are on 4 and 8. As I recall I've been told 4 and 8 are downbeats or not noticeable. Some male students put a tap in on them until they're comfortable just holding that beat.

    I've danced with guys and the only thing they can find is the 1...but that was all they need. I do On1, On2 and am learning to lead both. If you can find the 1, and keep a constant rhythm you're golden.

    Hope some of this helps you.
  2. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    not sure how you're going to "confuse" him with on2? I'll ignore the on2 vs on1, which is easier debate, but whether it's on1 or on2, he wants to be able to find the beat and that's a requirement, regardless of what you dance. Personally I think every beginner, needs to be taught the clave and the beat from the get go. The longer you put it off the more you're capping them, resulting in frustration when they are attempting to understand the flow of the partner work (even basic turns) that they are taught. All of the best instructors I've taken lessons with have started from day one on where to find the 1 and what is clave. Without that, you're doing 6 simple steps that are absolutely meaningless.

    that's exactly it, the 1 isn't the only thing they can find, they are also finding the tempo (i.e. the frequency of ones) even though they aren't focusing on it.

    But you're right, finding the 1 is what good instructors teach in their beginner classes for the first 5 minutes of every class and any time music is put on. This is the first stage of any of the beginners I help, and it was a stage I fondly remember. With me, when I was able to find the 1, it didn't take long before I found the 5 and then I could just juump into any part of the bar and be on time.

    You have more powerful software already, just look upstairs. Your brain is naturally wired to decipher patterns more accurately than any piece of software...assuming you're not deaf. There are no short-cuts to this part of salsa. You do it, on your own or you don't do it. It might help being around with someone who can do it for a crutch from time to time, but you'll eventually be able to get it with some will power irregardless.
  3. Lola

    Lola Sonero

    Oh, I guess I wasn't being very clear. It sounds like he's learning On1, so to avoid confusion I didn't want to include the rest that mentioned what steps were on beat with the clave, and I'm pretty sure he mentioned the foot stepped with and in which direction. (i.e. mentioned stepping slightly back with his left foot on the 1, rather than forward with his left)

    I could be wrong. I kept that excerpt to help me find the clave when I was starting.
  4. devane

    devane Son Montuno

    What confuses me is if you can identify the 1 & 5 (which in music theory is the same) I don't see what the problem is in regards to dancing on time. If your basic step is correct your 2,3,4 will fall into place.

    Technically 4 beats repeated twice. So in terms of music the 1 is equal to the 5.

    Don't expect to hear 8 notes over 2 bars of music repeating with each note marking out ever beat. I know many people who think this and wonder why they can't hear them. They're not there.

    Ok, the first thing you need to know is what a beat is.

    Dr Robert Greenberg - The fundamentals of music.
    "Beat or Pulse
    The shortest or smallest time division in which we can comfortably move our bodies, to which we can comfortably dance is called the beat or the pulse."

    Sorry to leave this post at a crucial point leaving the issue unresolved but I got home late, it is 10.30, I have this computer virus on my pc which downloads junk tv programmes. For example today it downloaded Heroes, Sarah Connor and Prison Break (yuk). I may as well have a look at them.
  5. granrey

    granrey Sonero

    I think you are getting me on the right direction, I'll wait for your next post.

    I thought a beat was always an actual sound that you can hear. At the same time I was thinking that probably every beat is stronger or longer than others to be able to make difference between them. can you explain this one.

    When you talk about the 4 beats. That makes sense to me and that's how I thought it should be.
  6. granrey

    granrey Sonero

    LOL. I'm not deaf. I'll try to force my brain again.
  7. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    That's it Granrey! Like i mentioned earlier... you're looking to count 8 equally spaced counts that line up with the cycle of the rhythm. Much easier to do on almost any other music than salsa, since most other music actually sounds instruments on the beats. In salsa music, the tones are sounded all over the place, but the count, the pulse, the beat, is still a constant, equally spaced meter.
    Marcos likes this.
  8. granrey

    granrey Sonero

    knowing they are equally spaced is good (same as when people are counting on the videos). I'm assuming the first beat should be a bit louder than 2,3 and 4. is that right?

    I was listening couple romantic salsas. I think I found the beats on those because There was a clear louder sound on 1 and on 5. the singer was also stressing his voice on 1 too.

    "Que locura enamorarme de ti" ("what a craziness to fall in love with you"). I could find the 1 and 5.
    "Sobredosis de amor" (Love overdose). I could find the one, so I just divided the cycle by 8.
    "Lluvia" (Rain). I could find the one, So I just divided the cycle by 8 again.
    "Devorame otra vez" (devour me again). I could find the one. So, I just divided the cycle by 8
    "Deznudate mujer" (remove your clothes woman) I could find the one. So I just divided the cycle by 8
    "Antidoto y Veneno" (Antidote and poison) I could find the one. So I just divided the cycle by 8

    Even trompets make an strees on my suspected 1.

    I'm finding the first beat due to the stronger sound at that beat and the stress of the singer and the trumpets at that one.

    However, I do not feel any other beat, exept for the first song in which I could find a 5.

    I wonder if finding the one and dividing the cycle by 8 shoud be enough?

    I decided to try some heavier salsas like:

    "Nadie se salva de la ruma" (nobody is safe from the rumba)
    "Fuego y Candela" (fire and flame)
    "Perico Macoña"
    On these two I just found the one but for periors it disapears and I just hear a constant flow but it comes back after a while. The challenge is to match the one when it comes back.

    "Moilendo Cafe"
    "Puerto Rico"

    I found the 1 and the 5 on these ones.

    Well, I guess the last posts saying that the beats are not actual sounds and knowing they are equally spaced and if the stress is on 1. I might be in good track now.
  9. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    Assmuing this is the Eddie Santiago version of "Que locura enamorarme de ti" the one is hidden in the tumbao conga rhythm, but once the cowbell starts (about the middle of the song) it is played at 1, 3, 5 and 7. The original rhythm has accents on 2 and 6 (wink wink to why on2 is often prefered). Those are the higher pitched hits you hear.

    "Sobredosis de amor" (assuming the Los Titanes version) has the same conga rhythm. When the chorus comes in about 2/3 of the way in, it is on the 1. The synth starts on the 1 as well. When the lyrics "Sobredosis de amor" are done with the chorus (about 50 seconds and 1:04 minutes in) it's on the 1.

    "Lluvia" too common of a name for me to pin down which one.

    "Devorame otra vez" the Los Titanes version has the same conga pattern again, but the vocals are on 1, with "Devorame otra vez" being exactly on the 1, but again it's not always the rule and you really should look to the percussion section for the pattern, in this case the same conga pattern that accents on 2 and 6 is present.

    "Antidoto y Veneno" the Eddie Santiago version has the deepest piano notes starting on 1. Yet again there is that conga rhythm with accents on 2 and 6.

    Celia Cruz & Ray Barretto & Adalberto Santiago - Nadie Se Salva De La Rumba has the piano section about 30 seconds in and that starts on 1. When the chorus starts after the piano section it starts on 1. Celia Cruz' lyrics start on1.

    Adalberto Santiago - Fuego Y Candela is tougher. I love this song by the way, but the clearest indicator I can give you is the when the trumpets come in and when the guiro starts. Those are both on 1. The rest of the major patterns are the more layered conga patterns. ALso present is the cowbell pattern which is one of my favorite and starts on 1. To me the piano is the way to get it from the beginning, but that fades into the layers and it won't be easy to follow.

    Perico Macoña is far easier. The piano pattern starts on 1 and about 12 seconds in the the horns have a break at 1. Angel Canales doesn't start singing at exactly the 1, but there about on each repeat of the vocals (it's Angel Canales what else would you expect other than blending). 1:20 into the song you have many horns come in together on the 1. The chorus and the horns again are on 1. This song is great for this purpose and it's just a blast to dance to.

    "Puerto Rico" assuming it's the Eddie Palmieri version from Sentido. Lots of clues here. After the guitar section, the music starts on 1. The deep trombone accents are on 1 and 5. Piano comes in on 1 as well. The cowbell comes in later on and is on 1, 3, 5 and 7.

    i hope that helps. I didn't go over all the patterns or the tumbao pattern, but tried to look to the clearest markers that I probably used when I was starting out.
  10. SmartAlx

    SmartAlx Tumbao

    One of the easiest ways to find the 1 (and the 5) is to listen to the Conga playing the Tumbao rhythm. (Look at Sweavo's graphic.) The emphasis is on the 2, 4, &, 6, 8, &. Listen for the double hit on the 4& and 8&. A lot of the time the double hit is all alone. All of the other instruments pause on the 4 and 8 so the tumbao is loud and clear. This is how I used to find the beat myself. The nice thing is that most salsa music has the tumbao rhythm in it.

    A great way to distinguish the first bar from the second is a concept called call and response. The first bar calls, and the second bar responds. Basically both work together to form a complete sentence. The ending of the 4 is a comma and the ending of the 8 is a period. If you pay attention you can sort of feel like one of the bars feels unfinished while the other bar feels complete. If you can feel that then it should be easy to distinguish the 1 from the 5.

    Finding the beat or pulse in the music is another story altogether though, and that comes first. I still don't know how to teach that. Not even sure if it's something that can be taught.
  11. SmartAlx

    SmartAlx Tumbao

    Wrong beats. The conga hits on 4 and 8, not on 1 and 4. I did this too when I was first learning to hear the music. You aren't alone.

    Sweavo! I didn't know you made the salsamerlizer. It's no wonder you are so well respected. One of the greatest salsa tools of all time.

    Say, I've always wondered. Why did you call it Salsamerlizer?

    Sorry about the hijack.
  12. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    awww shucks!

    Because it salsamerlizes your brain.

    It was just the first name that popped into my head :)
  13. devane

    devane Son Montuno

    OK, my explanations comes from Dr Robert Greenberg "fundamentals of music" "Howard Goodall :how music works" numerous books and my Piano teacher. Proper music theory education and ear-training in piano classes tends to come late or never. Mostly because it's hard work and scares away people. But I like theory, much to the confusion of my teacher.
    I'm not that interested in learning to play latin music though yet.I like melancholy music.
    My current pieces are
    which everybody knows
    find me some sad salsa pieces

    It is very helpful too to address the misconceptions in case people start filling in the gaps. This is not usual to assume this. Considering when someone asks you to listen to the 8 beats and start counting you would assume there are 8 audible things to listen to. Listening to the much discussed clave, well you can hear it so this is the same thing? No.

    But rhythm in melody (without percussion) is implied. You're creating a sense of rhythm through other means. I will have another listen to Dr greenberg's lectures to give you a more complete list but accentuation works through phrashing, syncopation, distance between notes (lone or repeating note creating a pulse) other voices: This could be a left hand accompaniment (lowest notes)to the right handed melody on the piano either a chord lasting a bar or a pattern.

    In the example above distance creates a pulse.

    Audio Version
    This is not a strict metronical piece but very easy the follow. The 1,2,3 feeling is very obvious.
    This is 3/4 (Waltz time). The time signature may be different but the point of implied accent couldn't be clearer. In fact it is necessary to look for these elements across genres to be clear of what is going on. The elements of music don't care what the genre is.

    Other voices too could mean other instruments like percussion.

    But don't think about it too hard. As opm1s6 this is purely something that happens subconsciously as a listener. In fact if you can walk you can keep time because the brain uses the same mechanism to co-ordinate movement as keeping time in a musical sense. There is even implied accent in walking or running. Believe it or not but once a song starts an untrained listener can perceive elements such as time signature, tempo and tonal centre (key) even though they may not be aware of such concepts in a tangible form. Even Greenberg asserts "if a waltz comes on and people starting dancing to it did they need to know what 3/4 meant. Of course not, they just felt the accent".

    Like Sweavo said they are equallly spaced out.

    Louder? No. Since accentuation is implied, it is an illusion.
    Another quote from Greenberg "Strong does not mean louder".
    Accentuation is an illusion.

    For example In "how music works" you get to listen to a clock ticking. Your brain will automatically group the ticks in 2s,3's or 4's . You will start hearing a tick tock even though in reality
    the sound is the same. This is what happens in implied accentuation.

    Youtube links.......the documentary "how music works" though this is not complete. The example is in there somewhere. Part 1 is not part1! It is missing some parts. I found my copy on a blog.
    part 2 starts with Cuba
    part 3

    The Stronger/louder confusion.
    You may find of heard of this

    4 beat bar "Strong, Weak, Medium, Weak". So you 8 beats would be this
    "Strong, Weak, Medium, Weak,Strong, Weak, Medium, Weak"
    don't take this too literal...
    because if this where true playing even one bar of music would too difficult and strange!.

    Example below

    When you play piano normally it is "legato". Legato means bound with no space between the notes. If the rest (slinece) creates a space, fair enough, you start again. But legato also means bound equally in volume until an instruction to change the dynamic to something else. So you can't change the volume 4 times for every bar. In the 2nd bar of the example there are 2 notes ( F&G which look like there stuck together). To play these notes for half the duration it would be strong and then the other half weak. And the notes cross over the bar lines. Only a computer could do this. Phrasing though especially repeating or slighty altered patterns become anticipated and create accents.
    The Audio example (of the notes above) is first played normally and then with the literal Strong,weak,medium,weak concept.This was done by computer. It's sounds terrible.

    In summary accent in melody is implied, an illusion.

    Your "1" or your "1 & 5" is all that is requires to dance on time. The accent becomes a constant pulse. You don't need to follow all the other beats . But having said that it is essential to learn about the native percussion patterns to appreciate to genre. They tell you where you are in the music too. Even listen to R&B/Hip Hop. They use hand-claps or snares on3 and the use of samples takes seconds to absorb and start on1. Your strong and medium beats are very easy to locate. You're using both implicit and explicit means at the same time which is ideally what should happen.....dancing with the melody on1 with the percussion being where you expect it to be.

    I hope it's not to confusing. Even I have questions at the moment about certains aspects of music where the answer is not clear and universally agreeded upon. I passed the Grade 1 ear exam on my first Piano lesson though ;)
  14. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    try some boleros
  15. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    :notworthy: AWESOME POST! :notworthy:

    If you do find that too confusing, Granrey, just come back to it in a couple weeks and take your time. This post is a gem that most people go their whole music-listening life without understanding. I'll be reading this one again I'm sure.
  16. devane

    devane Son Montuno

    I'll have to ask someone to be sure but probably the problem is that whatever the current version of flash player is at the moment. It has made certain functions/commands of actionscript redundent and uses a new functions instead. This happens in programming sometimes and you have to re-write certain lines of code. In flash re-opening the fla files and re-compiling it with a newer version of Flash may rewrite it and solve the problem. Users are forced to upgrade their players/browser plugins (for free) from time to time. I know the last version of Flash I used would support something like 16 or 32 sounds at the same time. Before it was 8. That is obviously using newer functions. Maybe this is the problem. The Salsamerlizer always worked before but now it's gone a little crazy.
  17. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    Thanks, devane. That was my first thought, but then I found it worked fine in IE6 on the same machine that it was broken in FireFox. If you do ask around, i'd be interested if anyone turns up more information. It would also explain the recent problems with youtube movies.

    I don't have anything to recompile Flash with as I built Salsamerlizer on a trial edition of SwishMAX and then it expired. If it had not expired, it would have got a much nicer visual design!
  18. devane

    devane Son Montuno

    I know someone who might know. I'll ask him on Friday.
    I used this test page with different browsers.......
    Try the link in each browser. The version numbers are probably different.

    On mine IE and firefox are using seperate files (DLL's) to play the flash files hence different results. You would have to update flash for each browser but it would probably stop working with the new version of flash. The browser which is used the most would be up to date as they makes users upgrade from time to time .
  19. devane

    devane Son Montuno

    found the full version of "How music works; Rhythm"
    Part 1

    Check out the clock illusion in part two @ 4.43
    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Great demo in part 4 by Twista rapping "Hope". I prefer the original version with Cee-lo (gnarls barklay)
    @ 4 mins of part 4 they go to Cuba
    This documentary isn't basic though.
  20. granrey

    granrey Sonero

    Guys, I really appreciate all your time and the patience to explain these things to me.

    I'm gonna follow all the posts and report back later.

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