Is there a sense of rhythm?

No, there is no sense of rhythm. And no tact either. But from the front. The question has bothered me since I started Forro- to give lessons. I saw a lot of people (the majority) who had problems with it - at the same time many Rrhythmically but also strongly developed. Is there a way to make this 'feeling' more tangible/trainable? 

In my lessons I tested countless rhythm exercises (clapping, tapping, typing, with a metronome, ...), gave a lot of feedback and had them try them out. With moderate success. I almost gave up and realized that it wasn't possible. It wasn't until I installed a new DJ program on my PC that I found the solution to the puzzle.

My observations have ultimately led to a method that will end the rhythm problems once and for all. It works great and helps faster than anything I've tried before combined.

Why do so many have problems with the rhythm?

It is not easy to perceive the rhythm (especially with the Forró). My observations show: The more controlled previous experience (= definition of training) the dancers have, the better the sense of rhythm. It doesn't necessarily have to be forró: when dancers make it easy in the taster session, they usually have either a dance or a music background. They rarely consciously trained the sense of rhythm, but rather developed it incidentally. It was the same for me: at some point I could just dance to the rhythm without being able to explain why. Hence the term 'feeling' – it was just there at some point. That mades difficult to convey it to others in a tangible way. 

Even more: The term is misleading and even harmful to learning. You can't train a feeling - you either have it or you don't. But the good news is: A sense of rhythm is not a feeling!

There is no sense of rhythm!

But what if there is no feeling? Understanding rhythm is important in order to get better yourself (or to help others). What is called a 'sense of rhythm' when dancing consists of three (trainable) components:

1. Rhythmic ability: In my experience, this is rarely the problem. Everyone is able to rhythmise. Breathing, heartbeat, walking / running, sleeping, and much more. are everyday examples of this. The more irregular (or faster / slower) a rhythm, the more training is required. But: We also had to learn rhythmic 'walking' very hard as a toddler. 

2. Auditory perception: The problem is usually rather: rhythm patients just don't hear it. Or rather the crux of the matter is you are desperately trying to hear something you don't really know what to look for. This even leads them to believe they are untalented (innate) - and when the brain believes something, it becomes even more difficult.

It's about knowing what to look out for

I realized this when I installed a new DJ program. The great thing about this program is that it recognizes how many beats a song has per minute. The computer recognizes the rhythm of the music. How does he do that? He has purely analytical and logical means at his disposal and definitely no feelings. All that remains for him is the audio track. And then he knows exactly what to look out for:

The strong beat made visible

Starker Beat

There is a raised (and condensed) deflection at regular intervals. That's not true for 100% and it's not always exactly the same either, but on average it's true over the whole song. That's why it's recommended not to start immediately with steps, but to 'sway' on the spot and gather more information. The rashes are nothing more than the strong beat. Why can you see the beat in the audio track? 

The explanation for this is very simple: Each piece of music is divided into bars so that the various instruments can orientate themselves. The tones and beats are always emphasized at the beginning of the bar. Without this emphasis, it would be completely impossible for the various instruments to work together. The individual musicians would lose their bearings with one another. The ingenious thing is that everyone (on average) adheres to it, not just the rhythm instruments. Often you can even hear the strong beat of the singers the clearest. Song examples of this are “Fabrica de Sonhos” (Orquestra do Fuba) and “Cheira bem” (Luso Baiao). Anyone who pays close attention to the zabumba in these songs will have problems discovering the rhythm.

Another detail makes life difficult for us: Throughout the song, the intro is the hardest part to hear the heavy beat. This is particularly impractical for us dancers, since almost every song begins with an intro. Usually only one or two instruments play here at the same time, which means that the musicians don't have to communicate as clearly. But why should we dance to a basic beat that is not dominant? Shouldn't we? In the intro, it is recommended to enjoy the embrace and dance other elements of the music, such as melody and harmony.

The boss

3. The coupling ability: If my students realize this, after a bit of practice, two things definitely work:
1. The basic step without music (you or the teacher counts)
2. Walking in the beat of the music (a step is taken with every strong beat; acts like slow motion)

Then the hurdle is the coupling of the two skills: making the basic step in the beat of the music. Performing two different (new) activities (rhythmizing + listening) at the same time is a challenge for the brain. However, there is no longer any shortcut here. Now it's time to practice, practice, practice. But now that the difficulties are known, this is much more motivating. It is not only important to train the coupling, but also to always start with the basic step without music and walking in the beat of the music. The coupling only works when these two skills are isolated.

Finally is still important to know where the strong beat is built in in the basic step. With the Forró it is not the 'first step forward', but the 'third' (emphasized/long). The other two steps are then built in at the appropriate distance so that the next 'third step' is again on the strong beat. There is no other reliable clue than the strong beat. If this last part is too complicated for the brevity, you can find out the background to it in the basic or musicality course.


"What then should you call this skill if not 'feeling for rhythm'?" You will ask yourself. Perhaps it would be a start to separate the three components mentioned above. After all, reading and writing are not referred to as a 'feeling for letters'.

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