Saturday, October 11, 2008

Feeling Lonely

Wow... I look at the stats and in the first 24 hours, hundreds of people read my previous article called "Better Ears: Voices in My Head."

So far there are very few comments, either here or via the Facebook group.

I thought we would have a bunch of people say what they are hearing. I'd made some minor edits to the original article, to encourage you to make comments. (No... not the other person reading: YOU!)

Because the reader numbers are high enough, I know 20, 30, 40 people (or more) have the words exactly right, but I scared them away. That's the last thing I want to do!

It's an exercise and I have songs that have taken me years to figure out some words. The process of listening and figuring out the words has been a major positive contribution to my music education and listening skills. (Again, try it with friends and family and report what they are hearing... you'll find it fascinating.)

My bad, because I thought this was a great example, and it's hard to find multiple versions of a tune that are with and without visuals. (The second version is easier the hear than the first, but part of that is because you're seeing the singer. If you were hearing it only, it's not as easy.)

If you don't want post a comment (either location) please feel free to send me private mail with what you're hearing (or post anonymously if you wish) and I'll verify your words. My e-mail address is at the bottom of every page.

I'm interested in your thoughts...


  1. How about "your thesis is so foreign to my own experiences that my opinion would seem to be irrelevant."

    We dance to instrumentals, we dance to music in other languages, we dance to scat. Why on earth would you choose to start a student's focus on words?

    What advantage do you gain for a student to decrypt the vocalists diction, only to miss the gorilla?

    I additionally worry about the impact this will have on the student. Lyrics, as you will have noticed, are really hard. This, to my mind, makes for a lousy introduction to a topic, simply because I would prefer that my students get more immediate progress in exchange for their effort. Also, the emphasis on lyric serves the student poorly if they are trying to establish a sense for where they are in time, as music structure and sentence structure overlap only intermittently. And finally, the effort is at best poorly rewarded - now that you have finally figured out that the word is "fade" rather than "fate", how is that going to change your movement?

    The names on the map are not the territory.

  2. Oh... I love your response and appreciate the fact that you have a different point of view!

    I don't have enough time to answer it appropriately tonight, but I will tomorrow.

    I appreciate the response even if we start from a different point of view!

    More details as soon as possible.

  3. I've read it - but I'm going to have to commit some time to do the exercise - so I'm waiting till I have some time free. Maybe others have been put off by this too. Requiring some effort from your readers :-)

  4. Don't feel lonely!
    I usually would say a 1:20 or 1:40 comment:read ratio wasn't too bad compared with most other places on the internet! bear in mind that the article really required an undertaking of time/effort of the reader, and that donig that would probably be time-shifted (read the article one day, do the exercise when spurred to do so).

    I think the original article as it was seemed to be more for personal training, than to do the exercise, then share results with all the other folks who read here and on Facebook. Encouragement to comment, (and technologically, trying to remove barriers in being able to easily comment too) can be vital. Provocative articles can get easy reaction, but your articles are more considered and thoughtful, and probably more slow burners in a way - a good thing in my book.
    Making the article more interactive might help, but how to do that's another comment i'd imagine, but i'm sure you and other readers have ideas!
    I think that part of the issue is that as you've said

    "It's an exercise and I have songs that have taken me years to figure out some words."
    Many readers are coming at this and the articles having never really thought or done such a scrutiny before, so there's a gap - as danceelf says - the thesis is foreign, which affects the feeling of how relevant/pertinent/useful/important an opinion would be having not done such an exercise before.

    I think it's to bridge that span of time that you've had with this and other techniques, so we can all progress with you, and learn from your learning.

    At a starter level, it can feel quite a specific thing - danceelf's point being why choose to start by focusing on words - if you fleshed out a kind of "training system" with different exercise/areas you could train, then you'd be putting up more "signposts" and making it clearer as to where things fit in, in terms of training a salser@ can do and undertake.
    I think that a lot of people have a few stories about misheard lyrics etc, and there are some great examples on forums and websites that consist of listing the best ones.
    I think by nothaving done the exercise, hunted the material, a reader might not understand the effort/length it takes to find multiple versions of a tune that are with and without visuals.

    Maybe songs that a salser@ would hear in warmup, training, in the club, would also be appropriate, as they could relate to it, and then use it (certainly, by knowing the lyrics, you've got a shortcut to learning where clave changes, accents, tempo changes etc are within the song, by linking the position of this to the nearby words in the lyrics - very useful!). Yes, lyrics don't always give you a nice hint as to where you are in the song, but they do indicate chorus, verse etc, and can be a hint. You can also start to understand what the song is about, which is handy if the song isn't in your native language, which will help with interpretation of the song through your dance. Knowing the words can affect your movement, if you so wish. Imagnie a song that is about the singer making a cup of tea and whilst doing so, singing about how he has had his eye on a friend, but it's unrequited attention. If you thought that song was more about a recent travesty in a small community of friends, it would be a dance out of context. Some people like to dance in context to the lyrics, feeling and meaning of the song. Hypothetical situation, but i'm sure there are salser@s out there that have had the meaning of a song to them change, through learning the lyrics.


I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

Feel free to send me private mail if appropriate.

Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero