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Blue Bead
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PostSubject: Music and Choreography   18.11.07 21:46

While watching a skating video recently I got to thinking about how skaters or choreographers choose an element to fit a particular section of music and what kind of criteria is used to make that decision. Obviously the tempo of the selection plays a part in it but what other things does the choreographer use to create the end result, other than who will perform it and what their skating level is?

Mary C.
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PostSubject: Re: Music and Choreography   19.11.07 12:41

Choosing the order of elements is a rather complicated process, but to distill it into several main factors, the decisions are heavily influenced by :

1/ The skater's comfort level with the emplacement of the elements. To illustrate this, when have you seen Brian not open a programme with a quad toe combo? He did so even when he has a quad salchow (which is presumably more difficult for him) planned.

2/ Concerning jumps, some skaters (such as Kevin van der Perren) who feel secure in their physical stamina will deliberately place many jumps after the half-way mark in the music, as the score of the element is multiplied by 1,1.

3/ Footwork sequences are both tiring and "epic" in that a good one will attract a lot of excitement from the crowd and, it is the skater's hope, judges (hey, there are human as well!). So, there is generally a footwork sequence placed near or at the end of the programme for this reason.

4/ Spins are exhausting. Thus they are generally placed after the hardest jumps. Some skaters, such as Brian and myself, will choose to shove 3 out of 4 spins in the last minute and a half or so, after (nearly) all of the jumps have been completed, for this reason.

5/ Finally the connecting steps tend to be put in last and are really the only part of the programme that are choreographed in function of the music, and not the other way around. One sees where one is in the music at this time and choreographs appropriately. Now, with the system that we have, it is advantageous to perform "difficult connecting steps". Thus, the complexity of these connecting passages, rather than their artistry, tends to be emphasised.

____________________________

Remember that we edit our musics, or get them custom composed. Thus, as in film, the musics are modified to suit our needs, and not the other way around. In general, the skater and coach are aware, in a vague way, of the choreography "skeleton" (general layout sans embellishment) of the programme. They can relate this to the music editing person, who will then edit the music to comply with the skater/coach/choerographer's vision. In my case, it is very simple, because I edit my own music and know exactly what I need.
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PostSubject: Re: Music and Choreography   19.11.07 12:41

Please note that I am speaking more for the process for élite-level competition programmes. Gala programmes, and programmes for lower level skaters, may follow a different process.
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PostSubject: Re: Music and Choreography   19.11.07 16:46

Thanks, Rach, for providing such a lot of detail in regards to the skating end of things. hugs That's part of what I needed.

Now...delving into the music end of the subject somewhat deeper, LOL. What qualities does any piece of music require to meet the needs of the skater? Are certain tempos more suitable, and what would those be? Are there types of music one should avoid? Is there any kind of music which isn't suitable for skating, at all? If one is, somehow, attracted to a music selection, which normally would not be something easy to choreograph, what could one do to make it usable? Or is that even possible? LOL

Mary C.
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PostSubject: Re: Music and Choreography   20.11.07 7:38

I'd say... Most anything is possible. Wink A skater's music preferences are as varied as the personalities themselves. Innovative skaters have often chosen music that is really different from what has been used in skating before.
The way you cut the music can make a big difference sometimes.
There are some kinds of music that are inappropriate for competition, such as hard rock (like the really hard core stuff) and hip-hop. But for exhibition, almost anything goes.

Quote :
...I got to thinking about how skaters or choreographers choose an element to fit a particular section of music and what kind of criteria is used to make that decision. Obviously the tempo of the selection plays a part in it but what other things does the choreographer use to create the end result, other than who will perform it and what their skating level is?
If I were to address your question purely from the perspective of what I like to do, when just skating for myself and not choreographing for someone else where additional factors may lie, I'd say... I simply do what feels right. For myself, for show programs, I always choose music that is close to my heart that I feel is something that I want to express. So, then I just move to it and see where the feeling takes me...
Jumps, spins, spirals, etc. can enhance the music so much when they are placed well. For example, landing a jump on a strong beat or powerful crescendo in the music is very effective. Or, spinning when the music becomes faster. A balance position on a note that is lasting can be a perfect match. Those are just some general examples. But, going back to my first statement, I just like to do what best conveys what I feel in the music, and have fun with it. sunny
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Rach
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PostSubject: Re: Music and Choreography   21.11.07 12:48

Blue Bead wrote:
Thanks, Rach, for providing such a lot of detail in regards to the skating end of things. hugs That's part of what I needed.

Now...delving into the music end of the subject somewhat deeper, LOL. What qualities does any piece of music require to meet the needs of the skater? Are certain tempos more suitable, and what would those be? Are there types of music one should avoid? Is there any kind of music which isn't suitable for skating, at all? If one is, somehow, attracted to a music selection, which normally would not be something easy to choreograph, what could one do to make it usable? Or is that even possible? LOL

Mary C.

You are welcome; I am happy to help.

To answer your questions :

1/ The skater has to like it. And look good skating on it. That's about it. The rules for competition dictate that the music cannot have any voiced consonant sounds, i.e. words. (The vocalised vowels in Brian's music are all right, though.) Preferably, the music has some sort of melody. But this is not necessary and many skaters choose percussion pieces with no melody for at least part of their programmes.

2/ See above; also, certain tempos (I assume by tempo, you mean number of beats per minute and thus, apparent "speed" of the music) work better for certain skaters. For example, I would look very stupid skating on slow, epic, classical music. There are, however, many people who look very graceful and accomplished with the same sort of music. They, however, would not do so well if they chose my percussion-techno-rock-cello pieces. At the lower levels, coaches will sometimes deliberately have a skater use a piece that he is not comfortable with, to help him "evolve" his skating. However, this is not advisable at high levels, as evinced by Brian's performances with his « 1492 » programme. Finally, men are usually more open to ALL STYLES. Watch men's skating, and then watch women's. The women's will probably be 90 % classical. The men's is a fair mix of classical, powerful movie themes, swing, techno, etc... The reason being that (in my opinion, mind), male skaters have less of a stereotype and are trained to be more versitle, whereas women are generally shoved into the "ballerina on ice" mould very early on (who does not want to see her six year old child in a pink tutu doing Swan Lake... aww how cute!... or not.)

3/ One should avoid music that one looks bad with, illegal musics (words), and musics that, for one reason or another, are very annoying and headache-inducing when played through the loudspeaker (which results in a suprising loss of fidelity, perhaps due to poor acoustics?).

4/ See my above statement.

5/ It can be made to work. It is hard to give an example here without an idea of the music that you are thinking of. But as long as it is legal in the eyes of the ISU (and does not make eardrums bleed), everything goes.

6/ See above.
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