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Skillz & Drillz! Mapping Your Music

posted in: Music, tribal drills | 0

If I haven’t said it enough before, I’ll say it again: ya gotta know your music! But other than listening to it over and over again, what else can you do to get intimate with your tunes? Music mapping is a fantastic tool to find new ways to visualize your music’s structure, so you can use it to maximum effect. There are many different ways to map your music, such as dividing out the 8-counts in each verse and chorus, noting time signatures of major changes throughout the song, drawing pictures to illustrate the feel of each part of the music (“this part is swirly, this part is sharp and jaggy, this is a slightly wavy line”), and there is also the ever-beloved Excel spreadhseet for those so organizationally inclined (I don’t know what you’re talking about…).

This month, it’s time to make your own music map. Find a piece of music you would like to know better (if you don’t have one in mind, check out Luxor Baladna from the Suggested Music List) and sit down with it. Listen through it a couple of times, until you feel you are starting to hear patterns emerge. For instance, think in terms of what instruments, sounds, or feelings come through, and when they repeat: “here the drums seem to come forward more, here the mizmar is really pushing to the top of the pile, then back to the drums.” Or “this part is more quiet, this part is rambunctious, this part sounds really happy, then back to quieter,” etc. Then select a method of choice to give each section a delineation, be it by counts, times, imagery, or whatever other way you would like to try. Maybe try a couple methods to see which one is the most useful to you. Once you have your map, consider what movements or movement families seem to best reflect each section of your music. Then put your feet to floor and see how it feels. Let me know how it goes, guys–I love to hear feedback on your Skillz & Drillz! work.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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