Milonga Syncopation

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by AndaBien, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Actually, I don't think that anyone can get very far with tango - and certainly not as an improvised dance, if they don't feel the rhythms of the music. Understanding can come at many levels, of course, and anyone's capacity to decode the music will change, over time, and to some extent reflect the community in which they dance (if only, because of the available pool of partners). A teacher's job is to introduce ideas, concepts and techniques. The students job is to be open to ideas - and by no means just the teacher's - and to experiment and internalise. We each make out own tango, from a variety of influences and sources. If we know nothing of the music of tango, then a teacher with musical sensitivity (and some show little sign of it, sadly) can help a student to progress, or to unlock doors that seemed barred, but the real work is always done by the students. The exception, of course, is the teacher whose goal is to produce dancing clones of themselves: look at me - this is tango - dance like me. No thanks.
     
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  2. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I interpret this article much differently than you (or the person who wrote the headline)

    "When he reviewed studies of learning styles, he found no scientific evidence backing up the idea. "We have not found evidence from a randomized control trial supporting any of these," he says, "and until such evidence exists, we don't recommend that they be used.""

    Lack of evidence of one thing is not the same as evidence of another thing. The article relates that one person studying the issue found no evidence that different learning styles exist. It does not claim that evidence was found that different learning styles do NOT exist.

    It goes on to say that some researchers and educators think energy should be spent determining what makes us alike, rather than what makes us different.

    So as far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out, and the theory that people might be auditory, visual or kinesthetic might still have validity.

    As someone who has Central Auditory Processing Disorder, it DEFINITELY applies to ME. I CANNOT learn from auditory information. It MUST be presented visually to me. There is clearly a difference in how the brain processes and retains the two kinds of information, and it has nothing to do with previous experience or training. Someone can talk to me about something I am trained for, and I will still get lost listening to what they are saying.

    I may be extreme, but it demonstrates that the processes are different and are handled quite separately in the brain. Therefore, it's logical to assume that people may have an innate predisposition, although it may not be as pronounced as it is in me.

    It will take more than one rather generic "scientists are exploring this" article to convince me otherwise. Discovering how I best receive information has improved my learning curve substantially. I wish I had known (or that educators had recognized) that auditory info wasn't working for me when I was school aged. It might have made life much easier and I might have done far better in school.
     
  3. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Your interpretation of the article is in fact correct. I only included one link but I've read thousands of articles on related research that support the same conclusion that we are far more similar intellectually than we are different.

    I made the claim that we are more similar than different based on the average person, which excludes those with disabilities. I'm well aware that there are people who do have cognitive deficits in certain areas which the statement would not apply to. I used to work in Special Education and know this first hand.

    There will always be exceptions to general statements, hence the reason they are general statements and not dogma.

    The reason why I mentioned that we are more similar than different is because of a pervasive belief that we are more different than similar. Most teachers still believe in the auditory, visual, kinesthetic modalities of learning and will attempt to teach something using all of these modalities or some form thereof, or will justify their teaching methods using this theory. Unfortunately, the evidence that it even exists is very weak and attempts to teach in such to such styles does not work.

    I don't know if you want to know the history of how this came to be but there is often a rather long delay before psychological research penetrates educational pedagogy. And when it finally reaches pedagogy, some things will have been overturned, but the pedagogists think it's new when it's really 10 years old.
     
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not really caught up on my current reading, but if you can post a link or...
     
  5. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    This will take some time. I won't be able to summarize it with just one link to an article, however, if you give me something very specific, I might be able to find something that answers it more concisely
     
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is true for just about any field, I would think. Thought you had something more specific in mind.
     
  7. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    My point was that by the time psychological research gets into the hands of educators, the information may have become outdated and overturned. Sometimes, only one side of the research gets there, even though there are competing theories, as is the case of multiple intelligences. This results in bias of the literature which is then taught to a generation of students who then believe a small slice of a broad spectrum. Since educators are not necessarily scientists, they do not keep up with the literature and are therefore unable to update their knowledge or teaching practices.
     
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Well, if you work from the premise that cognitive abilities are black and white rather than running along a spectrum, it makes sense. However, since most things operate along a spectrum, it's not as clear cut as you want to make it. You are even trying to settle the argument "are we more the same or are we different?" with an either/or answer. However, that too, runs a spectrum.

    The 3 methods of learning that I mention are clearly using different parts of the brain for processing. One of the abilities does not have to be significantly disordered for another to simply function better while both fall within the "normal" distribution. Two people whose blood sugar falls within the "normal" range can still have very different blood sugar levels. The point at which it is considered disease is not when it varies at all, but when it varies enough to create a significant problem (with significant usually being defined by someone other than the person with the problem). If the patient feels that their energy is hampered by fluctuations, they may benefit from doing something about it even when their glucose levels fall into what doctors insist is the "normal" range.

    "Normal" (ie: non-disabled) humans might all use visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning abilities which make us similar. Any one individual may fair better using a specific one, which makes us different. Someone does not have to be incapable of using the other two to fair better with one, just as one does not have to fall into the "diseased" category to benefit from monitoring glycemic intake. If a dance teacher talks a lot giving descriptions to someone who would catch on better by seeing the move, then the student doesn't pick it up as fast as they might. If there is any subject where the differences in the 3 learning styles can be readily observed, it's in teaching dance!

    The bottom line is that we can be both similar AND different. Trying to decide which is more significant is pointless because if only one was studied, we would miss out on half of the potential knowledge to be gained.

    Yes, things change and new information often revises previous modalities. But often the new theory gets revised again and you end up back where you started. The idea that visual, auditory and kinesthetic are completely interchangeable with no affect is not proven beyond doubt either.

    Studying what makes us the same is important. So is studying what makes us different. We are both of those things. Focusing on one will never give all the answers.

    Duality is a pain in the knat sometimes, but an unavoidable fact of life.
     
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Yeah. If my student wants me to demonstrate a move, I show it to them. If they want me to place their body so they can feel it, I do that. If they want me to talk about what they are supposed to do, I explain it more thoroughly. I start from the premise that I need to do all 3 to some extent, and see how it sinks in.

    Of course, there are some students who just don't ever seem to input anything no matter how you present it. Then we are definitely into psychology and not neurology.
     
  10. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    An example just came to mind, though I don't know how relevant it is.

    Whole language approach
    The whole language approach was based on the observation that good readers see the entire word and understand it
    while poor readers must read individual letters. This led to the pedagogical approach of teaching words, not letters. Results: students couldn't read but they loved reading. (I had a teacher who taught this way, though luckily, I had already learned to read by then thus sparing me from illiteracy.)

    The reasoning here was that research indicated that good readers automatically read the whole word and if the poor readers were taught this way, they'd also become good readers. However, research revealed that good readers become good readers through letter-sound awareness. It's only after sufficient practice can they perceive the entire word as a whole. Oops. The whole language vs. phonics debate, which was quite rife in the 90s, ended with this discovery. Phonics won (the way I was taught how to read in preschool.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_language
     
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Totally off topic (but that's hardly unusual) I love Chinese music. What instrument do you play? (if the mods object to this tangent, feel free to send me a PM with the info) I have quite a few CD's of Pipa, Zheng, and Erhu, though I prefer the Japanese Koto.
     
  12. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member


    Yes, I completely agree that a teacher should answer their questions in the manner they are most comfortable even if it isn't the most useful or effective to the task at hand. But...

    If you wanted a person to do something, what would be the best way to get him to do it? You could tell him, show him, or move him. The best way would be to physically move him, especially if it is somewhat complicated. The least effective way would be to tell him.

    If you wanted a person to know something, what would be the best way to get him to know it? You could tell him or ask him to read it. The best way is to just tell him.

    There is a difference between knowing and doing. There is an intellectual bias that it's more important to know something than it is to do something. This probably explains why music theory classes are 3 units while the ensemble classes/labs are only 1 unit, even though both take the same amount of class time.

    But in a dance class, teachers can sometimes talk so much that the amount of words are more than the amount of dancing.
     
  13. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    The drum (the big one, daigu) the cymbols and the gong. I learned how to play them when I learned lion dance. One time, a Western classical musician/composer was invited to notate, in Western notation, the music we were playing. I never saw the results as I wasn't interested at the time since I couldn't read Western notation then. I can now notate it on my own. :)
     
  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    The whole point would be because it IS the most useful or effective for that student at that time. If the person doesn't get it any other way, then it is the other ways that aren't useful. I mean really.. that is just an absurd statement: When something isn't working you have to use something that is less useful and effective that might work better. Uh... what?

    You seem to be looking at teaching as though there is a "best" way and if a student doesn't get it that way, then you have to resort to something that "isn't as good". The entire point of teaching is for the student to get it! Therefore the way that the student gets it IS the best way. Some other way that someone decided was "more useful and effective" is worthless if the student can't learn from it!

    Well, if you only cared about the person doing it once, like in the case of someone standing in your way that you need to move, yeah, maybe just shoving them out of the way works best. But I guarantee you that putting a dance student in a certain position does not always work better than anything else. Just because you put them there once, doesn't mean they can put themselves in that same position again, especially if they've never seen what it looks like. Imagine if we could do away with all those mirrors in ballet class though!

    No. Not necessarily on either count.

    Look, you really seem to want to deal in absolutes. They don't exist. There are billions of people on the planet. Even if you weed out the ones with neurological defects, you're going to get variations.

    As long as you keep trying to say "It's THIS way all the time" there's no way I can have a rational discussion with you. You're so busy focusing on what makes us the same, that you aren't allowing for differences AT ALL.
     
  15. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    This whole thread makes me think two things...

    1) I'm glad I'm primarily a follower.

    2) I'm reminded of the scene in the ballet movie The Turning Point where the choreographer tells the young ballerina to stop emoting and count. She says' "I don't count". He says "How do you know what to do when? ESP?" and she says:

    "I feel it, WITH the music, and I make it fit"

    That's how I dance. I don't know a lot of music theory (some basics). I may use the word syncopation wrong from a musician's standpoint. But I've been complimented on my musicality as a dancer.

    I feel it... with the music. And I make it fit.
     
  16. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member


    I'm not responding pragmatically, which is the way everyone is responding, but theoretically by removing individual differences so we have a generic model. By working with the model, we have an underlying functional mechanism. This model can then be modified to suit individuals but the underlying mechanism is still present.

    It might be helpful to know that, while I'm a teacher, I'm always trying to find the underlying mechanisms of things. This allows me to apply principles to various teaching practices. How it becomes manifested, the pragmatics of teaching, then become tailored to individuals. Since individuals differ so widely on the surface, it's uselessly time-consuming to find something that works for that one individual. But once that mechanism is understood, then it can be tailored to individuals without having to invent the wheel for each student.
     
  17. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    They will find a way!

    Nobuyuki Tsujii won first prize at a major piano competition and now tours the world. If you just listened, you wouldn't be able to tell that he can't read music all that well. Hell, he can't read at all. When he was born, he was born without the ability to see. Not that it stopped him though.

     
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I could not possibly disagree more.

    Especially if the one student is the only one you have to deal with in that moment. I think it is a teacher's obligation to find what works for that individual. The tango instructors I've had who did not approach me as an individual in a private lesson never got my return business.

    I also find that how time consuming it is to find that "something-that-works" varies widely from teacher to teacher. If you have found it "uselessly time consuming" to look for it, that's sad for you and your students.

    Theoretically removing individual differences to create a generic model only works if the model still has any validity after it's made so general. I posit that it may not. Drug trials try to control for a variety of factors. One of the ways they did so in the past was to forgo testing on women because of the hormone fluctuations of women's bodies. As a result we've had drugs that didn't work on women in the way expected based on trial results.

    You can't remove differences by simply denying that they are there... you have to have test subjects for whom the differences AREN'T there. Then you have a generic model for your test, but run the risk that the results won't be applicable to subjects who don't fit the model.
     
  19. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Sure, I agree, in the social dance sphere. Most of the discussion about counting was aimed at musicians, not social dancers. (It's a movie - ballet dancers do count when needed.) There is a difference in requirements. A performing musician is (re)-creating in real time, and that takes many years of training and daily practice, using numerous techniques to make it happen, gradually over time. Counting (a spectrum) is a primary technique.

    Musicians have to 'feel" it too to make good music. But an individual musician cannot do as he feels, in the context of ensemble playing. (A generality, with exceptions...) It matters if the habanera rhythms are played sloppily. It matters if the violins don't come in on time. It matters if the bandoneons and piano, acting as the rhythm section, aren't together. There is no margin for error in performance - it is right or it isn't. A social dancer does not have these stringent requirements. But the couple does need to be in time with the music.

    For dancing: a few rhythms define tango/milonga/vals, they happen almost constantly (A generality too, more in some ensembles and periods than others). These common rhythms are readily learned by listening to the music, and dancing to them. Tapping, vocalizing, moving to them are often all that's needed. Having a teacher tap the rhythms and making corrections - and counting if it helps - is ideal, IMO. No study of syncopation is required - unless someone wants to learn more about it. I always find academic (musicologist's) definitions overly complicated and too involved for the syncopation found in tango/milonga/vals music. More than the rhythm has to be felt - the phrasing, the call and response character, lyricism, marcato, etc. These are more difficult to feel, easier for some than others, initially, anyway. Lots of attentive listening (and/or analysis) might be needed here. These things are more difficult to dance to. When all the elements come together in the dance there is a beautiful musicality. Nothing needs to be counted, just felt. That's how my most enjoyable dances happen...wish it happened more often...

    Just a few thoughts that came to mind....
     
  20. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I don't even understand what the question is. Are two things, or a group of things, more similar or more different from each other? Based on what? Is an apple more similar or more different than an orange? Are fish more similar or more different from each other? What does that mean? The answer could be both yes and no simultaneously.

    I don't think there is only one way to teach dance effectively. If there is, which way is best? If a student is struggling with something the way I am presenting it, I try to present it in a different way. From experience I've found that often works, so I try to present dance in a variety of ways from the start, trying to accommodate as many students as possible.
     

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