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Musicality is a noun that means sensitivity to, knowledge of, or talent for music. The word also refers to the quality or state of being musical (aka melodiousness.) A musical person has the ability to perceive differences in pitch, rhythm and harmonies. One usually differentiates between two types of musicality: To be able to perceive music (musical receptivity) and to be able to reproduce music as well as creating music (musical creativity).
Musicality may also refer to fitting a dance to the music being played, with the goal of relating the dance to the music's rhythm, melody, and mood. Beginner dancers usually think they should step on the beats of the music, and may vary the size of their movements with the volume of the music, while more advanced dancers dance to the melody, variations of rhythm, and mood. This is the key characteristic of improvised dancing. Unlike most ballroom dances, which tend to use the music as a metronome to guide the dance, Lindy Hop, West Coast swing, Argentine Tango, for example, view matching your dancing to the spirit and mood of the music as the highest goal achievable.
Tempo: Slower music gives dancers more time to play, more time for style and variations. Faster music forces dancers to be more creative in their application of style, or possibly use simpler variations depending on the skill of the dancer.
Follow: Follow may mirror the lead with her arm, feet, and head styling, or she may do the opposite of the lead, or she can do something independent of the lead.
Footwork: For advanced dancers, footwork is largely independent of body work. Except for needing to move, which foot moves is unimportant. Advanced dancers can do any kind of footwork. The footwork is open to any interpretation.
Song Structure: Certain types of music have a regular structure, which an experienced dancer can frame his or her moves around. For example, the chorus in some swing music consists of 32 bars, which follows an AABA structure, where each letter consists of four 8-count sections and the B letter has a different melody. The fourth 8-count section of each letter is often an ideal time to execute a break. Other songs have six 8-count sections followed by a chorus of four 8-count sections. "In The Mood" from Glenn Miller is a good example of this type of structure.
- AABA: The Map to Swing Music (Rusty Frank)
- Understanding Musicality, academic symposium 2012.
- Salsa Musicality: Moving Beyond Patterns (Ben Leane)