Musicality Online Course

"Dance is music made visible."

Welcome to Salsa Secrets Musicality Class. We are honored to have you with us. Included in your class is 8 video lessons and 10 audio tracks. We've also included 3 bonus tracks for your listening pleasure.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions at: dance@salsasecrets-portsmouth.com

Introduction

Musicality

Our philosophy as a dance company is not based upon the information, but rather, the experience. Thus, the aspect of vibrational resonance is primary within our company as it supports the idea of music and dance as modalities of healing. So... What is musicality? For dancers, musicality is a visual display of what is interpreted through our cells as vibration and sound. We connect specific frequencies and use our bodies as a tool to share the frequency from the inside out. This makes our personal experience become an experience for the collective. 

Dancing, is one thing, being able to dance with the music in this way is a whole new level of awareness. It take effort to understand the music and feel the rhythms to the point that the rhythm and the human become one. The form that separates us, fades away. All that remains is the truth of that moment: you, the music, the dance. 

As we develop as dancers, we become more and more curious about the music and what it means. This course gives us every opportunity to develop our own relationships with music and the instruments, to dance from a new perspective and to define musicality for our own selves. 

We want you to play with the layers, be fascinated by the ways they meld together and then for you to directly translate that vibration into dance. This course is all about delighting yourself with something far greater than yourself. It lends itself to the rich traditions of music and dance and gives you an opportunity to bring that magic into the present. 

History of Salsa Music

Salsa quickly became one of the most dynamic and important musical phenomena of the 1900’s. Today, it remains as one of the most popular style of dance music. Salsa represents a mix of Latin musical genres, but its primary component is Cuban dance music. The roots of salsa originated in Cuba from Cuban Son and Afro-Cuban Rumba. In Cuba, the Spanish and Afro-Cuban elements were combined, both in terms of rhythm and the instruments used. By mid-century, this fusion came to Habana where foreign influences were absorbed, particularly American Jazz music.

By the end of the l950s, many Cuban and Puerto Rican people including musicians had emigrated to the United States of America, especially in New York City. Salsa music evolved in this era from the latin roots in fusion with jazz to form the sound we know today. As the music become more and more popular, so too, did the dance.

The key instrument that provides the core groove of a salsa song is the clave, an African percussion instrument comprised of two wooden sticks hit together in a specific rhythm. There are Son and Rumba clave which can be played in five stroke patterns, known as 3-2 or 2-3 clave. Other components include the congas, the bass guitar and the piano. 

Fundamental Structure & Components

The following components make up musical form: introduction, verse, chorus, bridge and ending. Very often, these components can be identified in latin music. The introduction acquaints the listener's ear to the song, the verse unfolds meaning of song, the chorus is the strongest, richest part of the song that offers the purpose of the song's existence, the bridge helps to smoothly transition from one piece to another, and the ending creates an honest resolution of the song.

These parts are unique and different from each other. The goal is to exercise your ear so that you can identify the substantial and subtle differences that exist within one song. The sections could have different instrumentation, different ways in which of the instruments are used and even different emotions. As a listener, you can use both the physical sensation of sound and the emotions evoked in order to identify changes within the music form. In latin music, bands can range from 6-12 or more members. The arrangements build to the chorus which typically includes the most instruments, the most robust sound and creates a climax in the music which evoke a specific sensation for the musicians and the listener. The chorus is often the most identifiable and recognizable component of music form. Most composers use the chorus as the point of impact for the listener, however, all of the components of the song are equally as important and vital to the creation. They all contribute to the essence of the song and make it what it is. 

Our ear will try to memorize specific characteristics within the music and based on those parts, you will recognize the song when you hear it again. You can challenge yourself by listening to a song multiple times, paying attention to the individual parts and allowing the unique details to rise to the surface. Ear training is a continuous process, which takes time and patience to develop. The more you spend time taking in the auditory sensations, the more you will receive from the music. And thus, the more you can translate through dance.

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How to Use the Progressive Salsa Instrumentation Tracks (below video lessons)

These music samples will help you to train your ear to the specific sound, vibration and rhythm of each instrument. Practice you dance flow with each track to develop a stronger relationship between your foot placement and the sound. Begin with the basic step and slowly progress with the footwork. Remember that your steps represent another layer of the rhythm section. It is very important that your steps match with the layers of music. That means, a clave hit may interact at the same time as your weight shift, just after or in the pause. We don't want you to rush or to become frustrated with the rhythms. Spending several weeks practicing with each instrument can be extremely beneficial to your progression. You will develop improved timing, interaction with the rhythm and expression of your own heart. 

Music Notation

For your curiosity and viewing pleasure, here are a couple of Piotrek's hand written music notations for some of the instruments we discuss in the lessons. 

Video Lessons

Lesson 1 - Introduction

Piotrek introduces the concept of bringing musicality into dance and shares his personal story of how music and dance help him to develop deeper levels of consciousness.

Lesson 2 - Abundance

We expand upon the idea that everything we need is abundantly present with us. Music, like most things in life, is a vibrational frequency, available for us to tune into.

Lesson 3 - Clave

In this lesson, we break down the rhythm of the clave, which takes the role of the musical metronome in Latin music. We discuss the importance of the clave and it's impact on the entire composition and interactions between voicing and other instruments. This lesson provides details to help you understand, memorize and execute the rhythm of the clave. We improve our listening skills (ear training) and specific frequency focus. 

Lesson 4 - 3/2 Clave versus 2/3 Clave

This lesson provides insight into the two most commonly used clave patterns. We solve the mystery and explore the possibilities of each pattern. These patterns are based on the clave assuming the most prominent role in salsa music. We break it down and spend time getting to know each rhythm pattern.

Lesson 5 - Congas

Conga players provide certain accents within salsa music. We break down the primary conga accents, isolate them with our listening skills, create them with our hands and apply them to into musical structure. The conga player has a major role in a salsa band. Understanding the relationship of the conga and clave is crucial in latin music and vital for salsa dancers to receive the essence of the music.

Lesson 6 - Bass

In this Street Fight format, we explore musical layers blending with each other. We see the relationship between the clave and congas, but now, add to it the bass line. The bass line is extremely unique and can be tricky. In this video, we break down the mechanics and existence of the bass line. As a part of the rhythmic section, the bass grounds the music and glues the rhythm section to the harmonies and melodies of the composition, producing one living organism.

Lesson 7 - Piano & Minor/Major Chords

We use the sound of a boys choir to present the difference between major and minor chords in music. We explore subdominant, dominant and tonic chords in salsa music to show the variety of different possibilities that music provides. The most common piano pattern in salsa music (Montuno) is detailed in this lesson. We really begin to get a feel of the complexity, importance and relationship between all the instruments in salsa music.

Lesson 8 - Big Finale

We've deepened our relationships with the rhythms, expanding our knowledge about musicality and have begun to translate musicality into dance; by doing so, we've enhanced who we are as dancers and perhaps, humans. In this lesson, we put the pieces together and implement new behaviors in the way we hear the music and thus the way we dance. The frequency sets in and we are attuned to all that's possible.

Progressive Salsa Instrumentation Tracks

2/3 Clave

2/3 Clave & Congas

2/3 Clave, Congas & Bass

2/3 Clave, Congas, Bass & Piano

3/2 Clave

3/2 Clave & Congas

3/2 Clave, Congas & Bass

3/2 Clave, Congas, Bass & Piano

Salsa Montuno Rhythm: Piano, 3/2 Clave & Congas

Ear Training -  Use of tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords with boys choir. 


Bonus Tracks

Dance Dance Salsa

Samba Le

African Dance

All Composition & Arrangement by: Piotr Kowalczyk 

Note: As a courtesy to Salsa Secrets, please use these tracks for personal use only. They are available exclusively to attendees of our Musicality Workshops and Musicality Online Courses. Thank you for your compliance.