Come Dancing in sequence

~ a review of sequence dance CDs ~


Contents  |  Introduction  |  Notes  |  New Additions  |  Alphabetical Listing  |  Rankings  |  Music Titles  |  Statistics  |  Links  |  Feedback

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List of Sequence Dance CDs ~ Notes


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CDs are listed alphabetically in order of the artists’ forenames.  CDs that comprise compilations of various artists are listed together in a category entitled Various.  Individual tune tracks that are vocal in nature are designated with a bracketed V in the lists.


As CDs become available to us, individual tracks are checked to ensure that the music is arranged in 16-bar sequences.  Most CDs sold as sequence dance CDs do in fact have all tracks in sequence.  Where this is not so the tracks are Graded X in the listings below.  Occasionally, a track may be marketed as being in sequence but is out of phase in places: for example, a new tune may start halfway through a sequence.  Such tracks are similarly Graded X.  In addition there are some good general dance CDs marketed that have only a few of their tracks in sequence.  These CDs are also being included in the listings if the tracks in sequence are considered worthwhile.


The number of 16-bar sequences in each track is determined and entered under the tabular heading Seq.  The number of 16-bar sequences in a track is a much more useful indicator than the highly variable track length given in minutes and seconds (see Statistics).  Regretfully, the once common practice of specifying the number of sequences in each track has largely disappeared.  Where the track as a whole is not in sequence, the notional number of 16-bar sequences is given.  A plus sign (+) indicates that a track ends with other than a 16-bar sequence.  Dancing to these tracks results in a frustratingly unfinished dance: such tracks are best avoided.  Care should be taken by MCs to ensure that only tracks with an even number of 16-bar sequences are used for the few dances that have a 32-bar sequence.


Individual tracks are checked to see if they have the required four-bar introduction.  Tracks that do not have a clear four-bar introduction are Graded X.  Such tracks are also best avoided as they only confuse dancers.  Only in rare cases where the music is of compelling beauty should their use be considered.  A suitable warning to dancers of the short/long introduction is then essential, although still likely to cause confusion to some.


Some tracks have breaks in the music such that dancers may think the dance is finished, or the phrasing is such as to produce a phantom ending.  These tracks are Graded X: we consider them unsuitable for sequence dancing.


The original arranger of a sequence dance always specifies the tempo of the music to be used.  While some latitude in tempo is to be expected, too much variation detracts from the enjoyment and beauty of the dance.  A quickstep danced at 51 bpm rather than the usual 48 bpm will soon have the elderly puffing and certainly detracts from most dancers’ enjoyment.  Likewise with sambas and mambos, etc.  The Highfield Waltz has less appeal when danced at 29 bpm rather than the 31 bpm specified by the arranger.  Many other examples could be given.  It is surprising then that the tempos of the CD tracks are not always specified by the manufacturer/supplier.


The tempo of individual tracks was determined semi-digitally using the CD player display to measure the time difference between the start of the first sequence and the end of the last sequence.  The tempo was thus averaged over the whole track.  Where this differed from that given by the CD supplier the number of bars over a 60-second random period were counted as a check.    Where the determined value is mid-way between whole numbers the value is quoted as that given with the original CD if this is within 0.5 of the determined value.  Such cases occur most often with Rumbas where a tempo of 26 or 27 bpm is determined to be 26.5 bpm.  In all other cases, the determined bpm was simply rounded to the nearest whole number.  Where the bpm found in practice differs from the bpm given with the original CD the tempo is highlighted as bpm rather than bpm.  We suspect that these discrepancies are often attributable to simple ‘typing errors’ in the supplier’s printed material.  It is surprising how often these discrepancies continue to occur in newly released CDs.  Where CD suppliers do not give the bpm, only the digitally determined bpm are listed: the corresponding column in the tables for the supplier’s data is then left blank.


All the above factors are matters of factual measurement that are independent of personal likes or dislikes.  More debatable is the assessment of a track’s musical appropriateness.  Our assessments in this field are clearly personal so we give here the three over-riding factors that are uppermost in our minds when we listen and dance to each music track.  First, the music must inspire us when we start the dance.  Second, the music must be appropriate to the dance.  As an example, we often listen and dance to Tango music that is in perfect time but lacks the passion that should characterize the dance.  At other times we unfortunately dance to music that meanders with no sense of direction, or that is more appropriate to a funeral than a time of joy and happiness.  Third, we must leave the floor with a sense of fulfillment having danced to good music that has been uplifting and welcomes us back again to the dance floor.  In some cases, where there is more than one tune on a track, the quality of the tunes varies widely.    In more recent reviews (as from 06/12/07) these differences are highlighted.


Attention was also paid to the sound levels throughout each CD track.  Too much variation in sound levels can be frustrating, especially to the hard of hearing at some distance from the speakers in the dance hall.  Variable sound levels often add to the enjoyment of music in general (as witnessed at any concert) but in the sequence dance area, such variations should be minimal.  CD tracks have not been graded separately on this aspect because of the difficulty in objective measurement and classification.  Those with computer facilities may find it worthwhile adjusting the sound levels where necessary to achieve a more even output.  However, this should not be necessary with good CDs as the problem can be readily overcome when preparing the original master CD.


Tracks that do not measure up to the above requirements are Graded X.  This Grade covers the ‘multitude of sins’ briefly discussed above.  The comparatively high proportion of such tracks on some CDs may appear high.  Some dancers may therefore consider that too high a standard has been set here.  But other dancers can perhaps be forgiven for wishing that all their sequence dance music reached the relatively high standard of the remaining music that is Graded P (good music).  Some of the music tracks are so good to dance to that we consider them worthy of a higher Grade: hence the multiple ticks.  We stress that these musical Grades are subjectively determined and ill defined but we trust that they reflect the views of most dancers.  Visitors to this site who possess any of the CDs reviewed so far may like to compare their own assessments with our Grades.  We do not expect perfect agreement but Feedback would be appreciated.  The feedback received to-date has been very encouraging.  Feedback on sequence dance CDs in general will always be appreciated.  In particular we would like to hear about any artists not listed so far whose CDs measure up to the general quality of those listed here.


As noted in the Statistics section, in addition to the 148 CDs reviewed so far, a further 38 CDs were considered unacceptable for inclusion in this website.  In a few cases, CDs that would normally fall in this unacceptable category have been included only because they contain one or more very good tracks of music.


The listed information should be useful in choosing CDs and also in preparing sequence dance programmes, especially when the CD music is stored on a computer or other digital device as is now common.  The speed and sound levels can then be readily adjusted where required when the CDs are initially loaded onto the computer (assuming this is legal in your country).  Hopefully, such problems will eventually be routinely overcome at source when sequence dance CDs are first produced.


Useful digital data on the above characteristics of sequence dance CDs are summarized in the Statistics section.






Contents  |  Introduction  |  Notes  |  New Additions  |  Alphabetical Listing  |  Rankings  |  Music Titles  |  Statistics  |  Links  |  Feedback




Page last revised 17 July 2010



DISCLAIMER:  While every effort has been made to ensure that all the information provided in this website is correct, no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions that may be present or losses that may ensue to users of the information.  The omission of any particular sequence dance CD from this site does not by itself imply that the CD is unsatisfactory: it may simply be that it has not yet been assessed.


© Colin Rammell