Tag Archives: Nick Williams

Musicality: Macro and Micro

I thought I’d just briefly write something down about how I discuss musicality.  If you think about it in different ways, I’d love to hear about it.  In broad terms, I think of musicality as coming in two flavors, macro and micro.


To me, macro-musicality is the general feeling and atmosphere inspired by a song or a section within a song.  I think I first awakened to the idea during a class by Sean and Tonya Morris during the first Inspiration Weekend (2008?).  They played Savoy Blues (Kid Ory), and asked us to react to the eight eight-counts, then feel how the following section and various solos created different feelings.  “Holy crap, they totally do,” I thought.  It hadn’t penetrated my mind that if I listened closely to the music, I could really be conscious of how it made me feel or that I could reflect those feelings in my dancing.

The opening to Savoy Blues is pretty staccato and upbeat.  The next section has more two-beat draws, which feels more like movement should be drawn out or legs should be swept around or something like that (the last part of this is in the Amazon sample).  The early part of the next section has long trombone draws with a quick clarinet counterpoint, transitioning into solo clarinet with long held notes and trill/vibrato (the first part of this is in the Amazon sample).  Then the trumpets break in for a really brassy, higher-energy solo… etc, etc, etc.  If one dances the same way to each of these sections, one’s not really listening to the music.  They have different energies which can be reflected in posture, energy, even facial expression.


Micro means small, right?  I think of micro-musicality as the matching footwork rhythms to rhythms in the music.  If there’s a beat that’s slightly different from the standard triple rhythm, can I match it?  If there’s a draw, can I do that instead of my 7-8?

How about a visual example?  Sure!  I think Nick Williams and Nikki Marvin accomplish both types of musicality here, but I especially like watching the footwork and how the moves get modified in relation to the music.

Nick Williams and Nikki Marvin – US Open Swing Dance Championships 2010 Strictly Lindy Winners


The whole thing is a clinic in micro-musicality.


Lots of fun, lots of ideas.  Did you catch this moment at 1:08?  Pure awesome.  The entire dance is full of moments like that, but I hate gushing.  Hate it.




How do you think about musicality?  Do you have a different paradigm that you fit things into?  Contrasting definitions of the same words?  More precision?  I’d really like to know how other people think about this.