Monday, February 16, 2015

The Pleasure of Balkan Rhythms: 9/8 and 9/16

I've been spending this month teaching dances in one of my favorite rhythms: 9/8 (or 9/16, depending on the tempo). Like all the wonderful uneven tempos of the Balkans, this one just keeps you moving - quite unlike the typically even 4/4 of most Western music. 

In Bulgaria and Macedonia, these dances are most often done in a QQQS sequence. The basic move of Daichovo is a classic hop step step step, always danced in sequences of four to fit the phrasing of the music; many variations can be added on or called by the leader. Djanguritsa is also danced in sequences of four measures, but with a characteristic extra syncopated beat added at the end to make it QQQS&. Devetorka is similar to a Kopanitsa, with three-measure phrasing in a more compact form (the rhythm of Kopanitsa is 11/8).  All of these dances can be done to many different pieces of music.

The two Greek dances I've been teaching both originate from areas in modern-day Turkey that were once populated by Greeks. Yetiere is a Pontic dance from the region near the Black Sea. Tessera Matia is from Asia Minor, the western coastal area; this lovely hypnotic dance features a twist on 9/8 that is also found in many versions of Karsilamas - the rhythm is called as QSQQ. Here's a good video of this dance:

The beat goes on at Herman Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma on Mondays 7-9:15 p.m.  Come join us!