Book Review: Understanding Musicality for Social Dancing : Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango Book 7

Published January 4th 2020
Author: Chris

Title: Musicality for Social Dancing: Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango Book 7

Author: Oliver Kent

Pages: 131

Published: November 2019

ISBN: 1709637285

Link to Amazon

This is the 7th and latest instalment of Oliver Kent’s series on Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango. In this book he continues to look into musicality by breaking down the music which you dance to.

In this book Kent builds on his previous two books in his series Book 5: Al Compás del Corazón and Book 6: Dinamica y Sincopacion which explained the compas of Argentine Tango music as well as double time and dynamics. In this book he looks at cues in music from both a rhythmic and melodic point of view that informs dancers about what is coming up in the music.

The author starts his 131 page, 7 chapter book with a very interesting chapter comparing musicality from a social dancing point of view and a choreography point of view. This does help explain how different people can approach musicality depending on background. However, as the title of the book suggests, the rest of this book focuses on the social point of view.

Through the next 6 chapters Oliver Kent breaks down music to look out how composers and musicians create their music with punctuation in both terms of rhythm and melodies that dancers can use as cues to what is about to happen next to inform the dancing, i.e musicality. He also devotes several pages throughout the book to explain that in Argentine Tango music the melody and rhythm can be passed between the different instruments. In order to demonstrate this, the author makes reference to several songs from different genres and some YouTube videos which he then suggests 28 different exercises which the reader can try to help them understand the music. It should be noted that these exercises are not dance based and there is very little in the book about movement and moving to the music, but then again this is not the focus of the book.

As with his previous book, this offering from Oliver Kent, is easy to read and follows a similar format with the return of quotes, although this reader did find them quite obscure. If you have read the early books in the Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango series, this book is less observational and less comical and instead is far more instructional. I would warn, as with anything that covers musicality, that you could lose some of the magic you feel from listening to music when you realise that music, especially music written to dance to, is often written to a template and therefore can be very formulaic and this can make your dancing formulaic too. Kent does go some way to address this in the epilogue and throughout the book he frequently mentions that practice and experience leads to improved musicality.

So I would certainly recommend this book, from the point of view of a teacher it offers plenty of options if you have students who are struggling with musicality and for general dancers it is a useful resource that will help you dance to new music. I am looking forward to the next book in the series as there is still a lot more for Oliver Kent to explore such as milonga and vals.

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