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J M (Mike) Nelson
Phone: 612-810-0157

Triplets That Aren't

Only Fools Rush In, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Till The End Of Time, Only You, and Unchained Melody, have time signatures that are often perplexing to dancers. They are a "signature" time signature of the 1950s, no pun intended, and they present an interesting dilemma. Written in 6/8 or 12/8 time, which feels like 2/4 or 4/4 with repeating triplets*, they might seem to provide an option for either even or odd cadence. In general, they do not.

Odd Cadence. Imposing a waltz cadence over the "triplets" would generally result in a rather fast Viennese tempo, not usually compatible with the melody or the lyric even if the dancers could keep up with the beat.

Even Cadence. Imposing an even cadence over the "triplets" is easy enough for a one-step cadence, but it can be awkward for two-step cadences because of the juxtaposition of the quick steps, which are often done unevenly and perhaps inconsistently as the dancers struggle with the all but impossible task of synching the quick steps to the underlying, even tempo.

Recommendations. If it is a slow tempo, and you like your partner, hold each other affectionately and enjoy the moment by simply swaying to the music; you will likely have lots of company. If it is too fast for that, try a one-step of some sort, such as a 4-count hustle or a simple, one-step swing; you might have ample company with that as well. You might also simply get another drink, snack, or, if at one of those rare venues with reasonable volume, converse.

*Triplets are three notes played in the same amount of time as two. 6/8 and 12/8 time signatures in most popular music has the feel of 2/4 or 4/4 time where each "beat" is represented by three, evenly spaced notes. Though often referred to as "triplets," the three-note groups only "feel" like triplets. Effectively, they are triplets, for most such songs use 6/8 and 12/8 time signatures to avoid the triplet notation required had the songs been written in 2/4 or 4/4 time. Dance Home Page Dance Curriculum Dance Articles

Copyright (c) 2006, J. M. Nelson. All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited without prior permission from the author.