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Technical Papers by Vic
Technical Papers by Vic
 Technical Papers Index  |  Digital Music     
 Alternative Music  |  Asymmetric Primer  |  Extended Applications  |  Two Couple Primer 

Alternative Music  by Vic Ceder


Alternative Music can be used as a great:

  1. Pick Me Up
  2. Mood Changer


  1. As with any piece of music, you need to know it, work with it, and use it to your advantage. Don't make it just background noise.
  2. If the alternative music has a driving beat, your choreography needs to be molded to it. Don't make the dancers think; let them dance.
  3. Alternative music can be relaxing, but make sure it has a good solid dance beat that dancers can easily pick up. Music with a weak or ambiguous beat will cause hesitant dancing.


Vocals can add to or detract from the dance experience.

  1. Continuous vocals can be distracting to many dancers. Look for pieces of music that have long instrumental sections or frequent breaks from the vocals.
  2. Foreign language vocals tend to be less distracting as they act more like part of the music.
  3. Familiar vocals can be used in clever ways as the dancers will sing along to the tune, adding to the dance experience.


Don't assume that using alternative music is easy and will greatly improve your calling. I've heard well-known callers use it poorly. Beware of these pitfalls:

  • calls can't be heard over vocals
  • too many instruments (music is too 'busy')
  • inappropriate choreography

Selecting Alternative Music

Good alternative music has these characteristics:

  • It should make you want to dance.
  • It should have a solid beat.
  • Appropriate BPM (124 to 130 BPM). A computer can adjust the BPM to the appropriate range. Sometimes a slower BPM works well.

Modify Original Music to Fit Your Needs

Use a computer to:

  1. Reduce vocals (via an equalizer)
  2. Change tempo
  3. Change pitch
  4. Remove inappropriate sections

Where to Get Alternative Music

  • Listen to what other callers are using, then ask them about it.
  • If you find yourself enjoying a particular piece of music, think about whether you can use it for square dancing.

For variety, don't overlook oldies, or newer music from square dance labels.

  • Blue Star
  • Ozark Productions

Music I Often Use

  • Two Times (Ann Lee)
  • Voices (Ann Lee)
  • Chaka Chaka (Rosanna Rocci)
  • Winchester Cathedral (The New Vaudeville Band) -- tempo +2.5% to 128 BPM
  • Spann Salad (Rob Rio) -- tempo -16% to 125 BPM
  • Where Do You Go (No Mercy)
  • Bonita [with reduced vocals] (No Mercy)
  • Never Let You Go (Jakaranda)
  • A Banda (Herb Alpert)
  • Funkytown (Lipps, Inc.)
  • Jazzy (Lipps, Inc.)
  • Addicted to the Night (Lipps, Inc.)
  • Last Night (Mar-Keys)

Music I Occasionally Use

  • Blue [slow bridge part removed] (Eiffel 65)
  • Come To Me (Ann Lee)
  • You Make Loving Fun (Fleetwood Mac)
  • Yes, Sir, That's My Baby (Firehouse Five Plus 2)
  • Please Don't Go (No Mercy)

Music I've Heard Others Use

  • Voulez Vous (ABBA)
  • Mission: Impossible Theme
  • Paso Dobles music
  • (Gina)
  • (Eiffel 65)
16-April-2021 05:18:25
Copyright © 2021 Vic Ceder.  All Rights Reserved.