Milonga Syncopation

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

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member


    Would you be able to lead her to do traspie when you don't, or to not do it when you do it?

    The problem of doing traspie without her, is keeping yourself still enough in the upper body that she doesn't feel you putting it in.
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting. Always enjoy Vega. Some independent mind like him is missing in the tango machinery today!
    Zoopsia59 likes this.
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I strongly disagree with the first point, but I agree with the latter one. Having a strong sense of rhythm helps, I guess, but that seems a prerequisite for dancing well (in any style) beyond the novice stage.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    The use of height changes seem central to his lead. You can move very quickly and change direction as often as you like, if your intention is crystal clear and if your partner is coming for the ride.
  5. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Member

    Sorry but I am still on the basics here..
    My ability to musically analyze the steps is not my strong side so only during the slowest milongas - Milonga sentimental - I can get an idea about what elements I am using in my dance.

    I put the theory like this: Milongan has a two-beat rhythm, lying below the habanera rhythm. The first habanera-h comes together with the first beat and the third h occurs with the second beat.

    h - - hh - h -
    1- - - 2 - - -

    To keep track for where I am on beats I found a sounding aid for habanera rhythm: Paam Pa Pam Pam (it sounds ok in most of the Nordic languages!) It carries the information about the long first part, the short one and the second beat with equally divided parts.

    The only thing i have found in common for syncopation definitions have been that it is something different from the basic patterns - so 1,2 and all h are out of question then.
    But if I take my step on one of the free spaces - am I out of music then?
  6. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Sorry - i did not get what you were actually saying - the problem that i was imagining (mainly because of my experiences) is related, but different.

    I sounded to me like the situation where the follower does not do a traspie (in the second sense) with the leader, or does an even number where the leader marked an odd number, or feels "something happening" because the leader did a traspie as an ornament while marking single time, and then tries to "fix" things because they feel that they are not "where they are supposed to be". As a leader i can catch up with followers who are moving on the music/riffing off the music in a way i understand/not moving. I can't catch up with them if they move (from my perspective) erratically trying to catch up with me - milonga is too fast for that, and i am as bound by the rhythm as they are, limiting my options for just letting them catch up.

    That situation is usually where i ask followers (especially in milonga) to just keep their rhythm, and let me try to catch up to them.

    The missing piece is that he actually stepped on you -i.e. he had lost track of where you were. I revise what i said above, and completely disagree with him (and myself :) )

    In what you describe you actually did keep your rhythm - it sounds like you (the couple) tried to debug this from the wrong angle (in general when i collide with my partner it is a problem with us not being on the same rhythm, so that is probably the first thing i would think of, too) - but the problem was that he did not feel when he moved in and out of the cross system. So how to debug this
    1) He needs to mark the traspie better
    2) He needs to become more sensitive to where you actually are
    3) He can cheat by using an even number of trasies (which carries the risk that sometimes he might actually be successful in marking them)
    4) He can cheat by using an exit out of his sequence of trasipies that is independend of which system the couple is actually in - like a giro, or where it is really easy to feel where the follower is - ochos are good for that - a back ocho feels very different from a sidestep.


    Gssh
  7. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    No, you are taking your rightful place as the percussion instrument in the orchestra :).

    Gssh
  8. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I agree that adding a step on the equally subdivided step (the & beat) does not create a syncopation. But neither does adding a step slightly before that equal subdivision.

    Musical syncopation is created by putting an emphatic beat in an unexpected place. (It might be argued that dancers can't create syncopation at all, but can only dance to syncopation that the musicians provide). Anyway, if a dancer's syncopation is done with footwork, since they can't play notes, dancing on 1.2.3.4. and including other Q steps as well doesn't change the emphasis. A dancer would have to do it by dancing on 1..&3.4. - that is by not dancing where the beat is expected, but stepping elsewhere instead.
  9. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    A piano is a percussion instrument. Even if it wasn't, any instrument can provide the rhythm of the music.
  10. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Which is typical when one person assumes they are right and that the problem therefore must be that the other person is "wrong"


    Well, the problem was that he didn't realize that he would be moving in and out of the cross system and was therefore not really paying attention. In his mind, if I just kept the rhythm and danced only the main beat (the "1", so to speak) then I would always end on the same foot that I would end on if I had done the traspie with him. This was the major flaw in his thinking, since would only be true sometimes (ie: with an even number of traspie's) He was already predisposed to assume I was off somehow, because he'd had so many students who just couldn't keep the rhythm. He was the teacher, so in his mind, if it didn't work, I must be doing something wrong.


    Or he could just blame me, which is his preferred solution ;)

    In all seriousness, he was a fabulous teacher. This was one of the very few times that he was off-base or in any way ignorant of how it all works, especially when it came to the rhythm and counting the music. He'd never had a student/partner with whom he could work on the advanced level of milonga that Omar was teaching at that time, so he hadn't really broken it down that well yet in his mind. When he simply led a traspie or two that I was to do with him, it was fine... it was when he tried adding much more for himself while I kept the basic rhythm (a la Omar sometimes) that it started falling apart.

    He was trying to adopt some of Omar's more complicated moves into his own style and it was a challenge for both of us. For starters, Omar used an offset embrace, and that was the only way some of his extra moves could work. Other wise, the follower was in the way even if she was on the intended foot. Even if that hadn't added complications, the basic premise that he could do traspie style embellishing and I'd be on the same foot whether or not I had done traspie was simply a fallacy as indicated above.
  11. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    I apologize, but i can't think trough this using this vocabulary - so let me describe how i think about this:
    A "traspie" in is a pique or rebound, followed by a step in the same direction.

    There are a few of ways of thinking about "leading her to do a traspie when i don't"
    1) i lead her to do a pique while i step, and then we both step but we are in the cross system
    I think i can do that, but it would have to be kinda tightly circular. I.e. the line of dance is 12oclock. I lead her to do a pique to 9, and step to 9. When she rebounds i have to realign, else we would be offset from each other, so now i am facing 3, and i am dissociated, and she is facing 9, and we are in the cross system. Now i have to step with my right leg americano style through, and she does a sidestep to her right towards 12 o clock. and then i would probably try to complete the front ocho while she is doing a back ocho to get us both into line of dance again.
    While this might be techincallt possible i don't think i could pull it off on the dancefloor at milonga speed. I will have to try this during a tango some time
    2) i lead her to do a pique while i don't do anything, and then we both step but we are in the cross system.
    That is easy - this is just a small boleo, and then we both step sideways
    3) i lead her to do a pique while i step, and then don't do anything while she steps.
    That is also a small boleo, but it would probbaly require a really precise mark to rebound her into being offset with me while i stepped in the direction, but the 2nd part where she catches up with me would probably be nice - almost like the reverse of an ocho cortado, just not into a cross

    Doing a traspie while she isn't doing one is not that difficult - milonga is fast, and the trick is not keeping myself still enough in the upper body so that she doesn't feel it, but doing these things between the marks - it works just like an adorno - while a dancer has comitted to a step the time between that step and the finish of that step is safe - so i would mark a sidestep, and she is going to keep the rhythm and land on the beat. If i don't support her she will not be able to change this midstep - boleos and piques require giving energy. And then i can sneak in anything i want (though in general i don't do this as pique-step towards 9, i do it as pique-weightshift, step towards 11 (pique-step would have the advantage that we don't end up in the cross system there)

    (disclaimer - this is based on me walking around in my office alone - i am about 70% sure that this would work with music and a partner, but i have not really tried it)

    Gssh
  12. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member


    Well, this is a question of how one defines syncopation - do you consider swung notes (like in jazz) to be a way to create syncopation? (wikipedia has examples of different degrees of swing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_(jazz_performance_style)). Similarly the clave rhythms - by the definitions above the clave/crossrhythms in general are not syncopated. Or tumbao, or the unequal notes and counterpoint in baroque music.

    I just browsed what definition i was able to find for syncopation on the web, and it seems that some people (when talking about ) jazz ,latin rhythms, and african music consider shifting notes to create emphasis to be syncopation, and others (mainly when providing dictionary definition) only consider accenting un-accented beats to be syncopation.
    Wikipedia (i know, it is not a real reference) references one academic musicologist that would consider creating a beat before the equal subdivisian to be an example of syncopation, but i don't know enough about this to evaluate if he is completely ideosyncratic, or mainstream in this interpretation.

    I certainly agree that double-time is not a syncopation, though :)

    I would argue that if you argue that dancers can't create syncopation then the rhythm section of a band can't either - the dancer is a musician that plays a percussive instrument (the feet of the couple). We are part of the music just as much as the guy with the clave.

    Gssh
  13. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Good question. I didn't until I watched this video explaining syncopation:

    Near the end he includes swing music as an example of very subtle syncopation. He seems to think accent is different from syncopation - I'm not clear about that.

    I am beginning to think there is a difference between a dancer's and a musician's syncopation. A musician could play the same 8 note scale and put emphasis on different notes: 1.3.5.7. would be "expected" (that's also a confusing word), whereas 12.45.78 would be unexpected. (Remember, still playing the same 8 notes, just changing the emphasis). How would a dancer change the emphasis on beats? By stamping? Or could a dancer only adhere, or not, to the syncopation presented in the music? I'm beginning to think a dancer could only leave out steps where steps are expected, maybe omitting them entirely, or maybe by putting the step somewhere else.
    Gssh likes this.
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I like Q-Q-S, so I'm still using it.

    :)
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I've had classes from them, so I feel comfortable in saying they are in the Q-Q-S camp for what a traspie is (my first definition).

    By the way, they (Gustavo Benzecry Saba & Maria Olivera) are very skilled in the art of teaching (I recommend them as teachers).
  16. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think that is the generally accepted meaning in the tango world, and maybe the broader dance world. Does syncopation ever get mentioned in other forms of social dance?
  17. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Thinking about what is expected or not, 'syncopation is a general term for "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm": a "placement of rhythmic stresses or accents where they wouldn't normally occur'. This from the Wikipedia article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncopation

    So I wonder if the habanera rhythm in milonga is considered syncopated, because the rhythmic pattern is fully expected. There is no disturbance or interruption at all.
  18. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Member

    Syncopation needs a regular structure to play against and the pattern of accents seems to be that stable mother making the syncopation *visible*
  19. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think that is correct.

    Here's an interesting take on vals:


    The music is not syncopated. The follower is dancing on 1, while the leader is dancing on 12 or 23.
  20. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I thought they did primarily Milonga Liso, not Milonga Con Traspie'?

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