Well – it’s been a few weeks now since I posted the most read article this blog has seen. Probably the most read article this blog will ever see. To put that in perspective – this blog has been going since 2011… and in four days, that article gathered fully a quarter of the hits the blog has ever had. The blog even broke a couple of times. Strong opinions seem to get more attention, it would seem.
I was going to leave at that – at least for the time being… but there have been a lot of responses (well – a lot by the standards of this blog), both positive and negative – and some of them have been extremely interesting. I’d like to respond to a few of these and discuss some of the points made, but rather than write another huge essay on the subject, I thought I’d start small, and respond in bite-size chunks. So here is the first morsel – written, for the most part, while sitting in Helsinki airport.
Criticism of my DJing
I confess – I didn’t expect that one. Perhaps I should have done – we all make mistakes, and I’ve certainly made my share of blunders while DJing, but the thing I found interesting was that for the most part these criticisms had, so far as I could tell, nothing at all to do with the content of the post. Draw your own conclusions.
One criticism, however, was particularly interesting to me – apparently, I am guilty of not “ensuring that *every* track has a clearly discernable beat“.
OK. So do I think this is justified? Do I believe I ensure that every track as “a clearly discernable beat”?
The answer is no. I do not. I do not care if a swing track has a clearly discernible beat. I couldn’t give a monkeys. If I’m playing beginner-friendly music, yes, that’s one thing, and I’ll do more to ensure that the beat is clear. For more advanced dancers, no. It’s not an issue for them, and it’s not an issue for me. Lindyhoppers get off on rhythm. Great swing dance music plays above all with rhythm, and it’s one of the main things I listen for, and by which I judge what is going to work for dancers, and what isn’t. For an example of what I’m talking about, here’s the beginning of the classic Bob Zurke stride piano number – You Hit My Heart with a Bang
For a beat – well – you can hear the rhythm section quietly doing its thing in the background…. but that’s all. Most of the rhythm in this section is coming from the piano and the horns… who are having so much fun its completely irresistible. Who needs a beat when you have rhythms like that to dance to?
Here’s another sample: Cab Calloway’s Three Swings then Out.
Yes – there’s the rhythm section again doing its job in the background – and there’s the rest of the band swinging away like crazy. That’s the part I want to dance to. If all I wanted was a beat, well – then I shouldn’t be a swing DJ… and dare I say it, perhaps I’d be focussing on the wrong dance for me.