|Single by The Dave Brubeck Quartet|
|Genre||Cool jazz, blues|
"Unsquare Dance" is a musical piece written by the American jazz composer Dave Brubeck in 1961 and released as a single in the U.S. the same year (and in 1962 in the U.K.). The song, featured on Brubeck's album Time Further Out, peaked at No. 93 on the U.S. Cash Box chart on December 16, 1961, and reached No. 14 on the U.K. singles chart in the summer of 1962.
Written in 7
4 time, the piece is an example of Brubeck's exploration of time signatures. According to Brubeck, it was written during a single trip from his home to the recording studio and was recorded the same day. The song is based on a blues structure but also has a distinct country and western feel, as implied in the title (a square dance being a fixture of western US culture). "Unsquare Dance" is driven by a strong bass figure, with percussion provided primarily by the rim of the snare drum and hand claps. It combines duple and triple meter.
The piano enters with descending phrases crossing the 7
4 rhythm. The speed of the piece gradually increases from start to finish. The main theme then develops initially without left accompaniment and then with a characteristic figure based around the use of tenths. A drum solo using rim shots follows, then a restatement of the theme and a distinctive conclusion.
Brubeck says in his liner notes:
"Unsquare Dance", in 7/4 time, is a challenge to the foot-tappers, finger-snappers and hand-clappers. Deceitfully simple, it refuses to be squared. And the laugh you hear at the end is Joe Morello's guffaw of surprise and relief that we had managed to get through the difficult last chorus.
According to one music teacher, "Brubeck calls it 'Unsquare Dance' and it ends with 'Turkey in the Straw' which is as 'square' as you can get!" At the very end, right after referencing "Turkey in the Straw", the song quotes the well known musical couplet known in some circles as shave and a haircut ... two bits, with the last note being the seventh beat in the measure.
In popular media
It is featured on the soundtrack of the movie Baby Driver (2017) in a scene where the main character, Baby, is attending a criminal heist briefing playing air piano on the table in front of him, much to the annoyance of another criminal.
Used in the trailer for the film Downhill
- "Unsquare Dance" / "Camptown Races" at rateyourmusic.com
- Cash Box Top 100, 12/16/61, Cash Box
- Kamien, Roger (1980). Music: An Appreciation. McGraw-Hill. p. 40.
- Yanow, Scott. Time Further Out at AllMusic
- Dave Brubeck - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2017.