Monday, 8 March 2010

What was that Song? Who sings it? nobody knows.....

On Saturday afternoon I opened this e-mail titled:

What was that Song? Who sings it? nobody knows...

from Edie some of you know her as Edide the Salsa Fresk
I thought this was a very important topic not only for Salsa dancers but fitted the topic for I would say most dance styles.
Notice to all Music Producers and Nightclub DJs:
Please announce the name of the song and artist AFTER each song.
By Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!

I am a dancer and instructor.
I represent dancers and can relate to dancers. Dancers dance to Music (duh). Without music, there would be no dancers, however without dancers, there would still be music.
I have heard over the year, via the grapevine, from countless promoters, that there is however a very wide “disconnect” between Dancers and Musicians. To put it bluntly, there is simply the Classic “Lack of Communication” between the two.
Allow me to explain.
Most Music Artists and band members do not take the time to learn to excel in dancing as dancers do. Most dancers do not take the time to research who the artist of every song is, much less the song name. Most don’t even care (sad but true), and most dancers just want the next song to start so they can keep dancing.

After taking Albert Torres' History of Music class for the second in Switzerland this year, and discussing this very subject with him, he continues to tell me how disappointed he is that the dancers don’t know the artists of the songs, nor the song names. He took a poll in the class and asked how many dancers knew who Tito Puente was…then Celia Cruz… then Eddie Palmieri… the results were astonishing. Less than 15% of the class raised their hands for every artist mentioned. I myself was shocked. The first time i took his class, was about five years ago in Sweden. Back then over 50% of the people raised their hands. Now only 15%?

The numbers are diminishing. As each year passes, less and less people / dancers remember who the greatest Salsa / Mambo artists of all of history were. This is truly a tragedy.

However, as a dancer, I find it difficult to accept the responsibility to research each and every artist – especially when all I want to do is dance - especially when I can get on Pandora radio ( and connect to a single Latin artist that I “do” know, and just listen to that and similar genres all day – getting educated at the same time if I like a particular song. Pandora has definitely done all of us a FANTASTIC educational service in that area.

Dancers don’t / can’t / won’t research the song because the majority of the time because they cannot remember “how it went”, sounded, much less the words. The majority of the time, all they know is that it was a cool song, and that’s all they can remember. They beg the DJ to play it, but time and time again, the DJ has no clue what they are talking about, as they struggle to hum the tune, and say its words… DJs will laugh at this as time and time again, night after night, they have to listen to horrible-sounding renditions of songs from dancers trying to hum their way through a tune they so desperately want to hear…

Here is a scenario that happens over and over again…
… “Oh! There’s that song again! I LOVE that song!!”
· “Who sings it?”
· “I have no idea. We’ll ask the DJ afterward.”
· “What’s the name of it?”
· “I don’t know…!!”

· “DJ booth is locked – he just told me doesn’t give away his songs (secrets) for fear “his music” will be copied by other DJs and he will not get hired anymore.”
· “So how do I find out the name and artist of the song?”
· “Bring your Iphone to the club next time, and we’ll download Shazam and find out.”
· “I tried that last time, and it didn’t work.”
· “So how do we find out the name of that song?”
· “…I don’t know. I can try singing it to the next DJ. Maybe he’ll recognize it.”

Dancers get tired of going through this on a weekly basis. So they just “stop” asking, and continue dancing.

DJs play the music, and don’t tell us the names of the artists nor the songs all night long, night after night, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Maybe they don’t know? And Musicians, Artists, Promoters, and Instructors WONDER why dancers are so ignorant of the music they dance to? Most dancers don’t even know that Musician Genius “Tito Puente” made over 100 CDs mostly for us dancers! Most of the songs we dance to were created by Tito Puente and his Orchestra – some of us don’t even know who Tito Puente is! Sometimes I am given music as a gift on a burned CD, that I don’t know where it came from, nor who the artist is, nor the name of the song, and Shazam (Iphone App) doesn’t tell me either. It’s a killer song, but “Gee, I wish I knew who the artist was… “

It would really help if the DJs at every nightclub would take less than four seconds to announce the name of the song that was played and the artist AFTER the song is over.

What would be even COOLER is if the name of the song and artist were PLACED INSIDE the music of the ACTUAL CD before each song, as part of the track as it was being created. This way, the DJs don’t have to say a word if they don’t want to … the CD already tells the name of the song and the artist just a split second after it plays.

HHHhhhhmmmmm…. Now why hasn’t anyone thought of that? EVER?

Making the song/artist announcement AFTER the song is over is more important /impressive than BEFORE the song plays because we can anticipate Who the Artist is AFTER we hear the song. If the announcement is BEFORE the song plays, and we don’t pay too much attention, we will miss out on the artist name and song name if we realize we really like the song afterward. (now THAT was a mouthful).

It would analogous to hearing the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles for the very first time, and the DJ made the song/artist announcement BEFORE the song played… then when you hear the end of the song, you realize you really like it, especially after the phrase, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…” and you forgot the artist name was announced Before and not After the song, you may NEVER REMEMBER who the artist was, and may never again hear that song until “by chance” they play it again…

Get it? Geez, I hope so!

Sometimes the simplest answers can solve the most complicated questions. Life would be so simple, and we would be so well-educated

if the DJs or the CD itself would let us know AFTER every song, the artist and the name of the song that was being played afterward.

That’s it.
Bottom line.

What I “do” notice however, is DJs making other types of comments, singing to the songs, announcing their own names, other’s names, upcoming events, local radio stations … everything BUT the very music they are playing.

Another thing I’ve noticed also, is the names of the songs are only on the CD covers… but NOT within the music of the CD after each song is over. We all have to sit here are “guess” what track number, and then match the name of the song to the track number to figure out which one it is. Has anyone ever thought - through the LOGISTICS of this ridiculous pain-staking process?

If you really think about it… HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT. And then you wonder why Artists and Musicians are UPSET because they are not getting paid for their work.

So the big question is…
What are we / they / going to do about this?

Off course I had to respond, What a great topic, offcourse as usual I went off topic, but bringing some other interesting information since thats usually my way and then went back on topic....
needless to say it would also be good to hear about other dancers experience with music to which the dancer have no idea of who the artist is.
and any ideas they might come up with......
My reponse to the e-mail was.
Hi Edie, I absolutely loved your article on music.
It really is a huge problem with students not knowing enough about music and also musicians in bands especially that don't realise the speed of their music (well at least most of their tracks) could be made for dancers and some for beginners (at a relative speed fro them)

I noticed for example with merengue that Elvis Crespo made a wonderful album years ago (Suavemente) and almost every single song on this album could be used for teaching anyone at any level. (for Merengue obviously) But somehow he was obviously clued in that his music needed to cater to as many people as possible.
I also think it's teachers responsibility to provide some musical education to students in some of the classes or to at least bring the subject up and talk a bit about music to their students in some of the early stages of their learning experience, otherwise students will continue to be ignorant as a result. and at the end of it all everyone suffers.

Since teachers are usually one of the first ports of call in a dancers lilfe, they too have a responsibility to share some of the knowledge on to their students.

There cannot be any community without dancers, djs, promotors, musicians, artists and bands.
We all have a role to play, but we could work a bit more towards a similar goal.

There is also the view that Djs should know or learn or made to learn how to dance or take classes to understand the most relevant tempos to their audiences. They would become better Djs if only they could see this and understand it. Unfortunately this information would only reach dancers / dance teachers.
So somehow it might be a good idea to instill the fact that a good Dj not only plays good music, but also dances, and as a result understands his audience in the best possible way.

Maybe oneday it will be resolved. It's not isolated just to the Salsa scene and I think it's an all round dance issue.

The point might be better understood if teachers or promotors contract Djs on the basis that they will either

a) already know how to dance
b) be prepared to learn how to dance as part of their role
and offcourse know how to Dj....
this might be what the scene needs to grow bigger and more importantly stronger.

Small adjustments like this can do a world of good for dancing, imagine how many people have stopped going to a club or venue because the Dj doesn't cater for most dancers?

Also imagine if you're a newcomer and you go out and discover people dancing, are you more likely to want to learn when you see everyone looking good on the dancefloor, and some occasionally stunning fast dancers, or a group of people falling over each other trying to catch the beats in a race against the fast music?

I'd have to agree if the client base is mostly beginners then play slower songs, everyone looks good, they feel confident (and they'll be better able to improve) and others that come into contact with the dance are more likely to want to learn. Or then for the dj to know and understand their audience, the dj might know what their clients look like, or their dance ability, but they may never know how the dancer feels when they are dancing, so only thing left is for the Dj to enter into the shoes of the dancer, become the dancer and then give them music from his soul.

Sure that may not be why they are contracted, but if this kind of idea could be utilised imagine how much more improved the scene would be.

Better Music
Better Dancers
Better Teachers

= Growth.

Djs need to be become dancers if they want to be able to fully relate to their clients the same like teachers, they can only teach people once they themselves have learned how to dance or have been taught, so I guess if you want people to dance to your music, you must know how to dance to your music also.

On Cd production, that I guess is done by using some of the points you used.

There again, musicians / record companies are oblivious to how their music is being used and how they could generate more interest in their music, the only way to do this is to contact artists, musicians, and bands directly and give them the ideas and see what they come up with.

Sure my answer may apear a bit off topic, but it's all part of the process of making the music and dance more accessible.

the other thing is to release an album of "Salsa Dance Hits" (catering for dancers) on a yearly basis. (the album could have any name, not necessarily this one it's just an idea)

That way the artist get recognition for their work as being a part of the dance scene, the student gets to learn more about music and culture. And there can also be series of commemorable albums relating deeper into the history of Salsa dancing.

I don't think it's that complicated to organise, the royalties go directly to the artist that gives their permission to use their song.
Dance schools can also suggest artist names on their websites, (this is also a useful tool, although not thorough it's good for students looking for artists or Cds to practise their steps to.)

It's a topic I will bring up on our blog, as these things can be resolved or at leats improved, people will always do what they want anyway.

Not sure if I touched on the topics you mentioned but there you go, maybe another can of worms was opened....
Enjoy the rest of your weekend

What I should also mention is that the same goes for Zouk Lambada, when it come to music, very few people on our scene actually know the difference between Zouk, Kizomba and Lambada music, or at least very few, let alone the artist names, and another blow for dancers is that this information has become somewhat precious.........
If there are any further comments or ideas anyone wishes to make regarding this then feel free to post on this on our blog, your coment can remain anonymous if you wish.
  This will an ongoing topic open for discussion kinda 24 hours, lol

shop @

Discover some of the Djs that mix Zouk music:

Discover the artist that plays the music, listen to a snippet and find out who the artist is.

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