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How to hear ballroom dancing music I: Meter

Most ballroom dancing music is organized in a simple structure that can be easily understood without getting too technical. Typically a "beat" refers to a drum beat. A group of beats is a "bar" or "measure". Finally a group of bars is a "phrase". Meter is the way the beats are grouped in the bars - usually by 2's, 3's or 4's. Different dances have different meters.

Most ballroom dances have a meter of either 2, 3 or 4 beats per bar.

As you can see 4 beats per bar is a pretty popular meter for ballroom dances. In fact since most ballroom dancing music has 4 beats per bar, you can theoretically dance most steps to most songs.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between 2 and 4 beats per bar, because of the even numbers of beats. However, it is usually easy to recognize a Waltz because of its distinct 3 beat rhythm. If you hear a strong 3 beat rhythm, then the song is definitely a Waltz. If you hear even numbers of beats, you will also need to consider the tempo and character of the music, before you decide on your dance.


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

How to hear ballroom dancing music I: Meter
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/14/2006 07:59:00 PM

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