Listening to Dance Music

by Jungreis

On page 180, the book makes a comment about listening to dance music rather than dancing. My initial reaction was “Huh?” It seemed like a ridiculous concept based on modern dance music. (I now only see a paradox of composing with the intention that people will listen rather than dance, music that is to be danced to.)
I admit that this is to some extent a case of me being a rock guitarist who has lost the ability to understand the idea of playing music for a purpose besides listening. (Even if you play something as background music, it is still something to be heard rather than to be the catalyst for something else, like dancing.) With that in mind, I tried to rationalize the idea. The best that I could think of is that this alleged dance music is catchy and thus suitable for dancing, but also for simply listening.
I’ve compiled a list of some of what I believe to be catchy songs that are suitable for both listening and dancing:
 Walk This Way (Aerosmith)
 Otherside (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
 Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
 Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers Band)
 Easy Livin’ (Uriah Heep)
I like all of these songs, yet they are all simple enough to be dance songs, perhaps not at most nightclubs, but certainly for a band at a party. That they are all part of the classic rock canon certainly helps their case for being catchy, in that they are ingrained in our heads as songs that we are supposed to like, but they are also just fun, great songs.
At the same time, some of the catchiest music is completely un-danceable. The best example is “Limelight” by Rush. The song is catchy because of fun guitar riffs, particularly the introduction and the interludes during the verses. The song is un-danceable because the time signatures are all over the place; the verses alternate between 6/4 and 7/4, and the chorus goes from 3/4 to 4/4. They do not even elect to settle on a strange time signature and use it for the whole song (just in case someone were to come up with a good way to dance in 7/4).

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