2012-11-04

Modern Waltz Music

In a fortnight, it will be Splash, an event where people teach high schoolers stuff. Everything from physics to origami to brownie cooking to fort building to an in-depth analysis of the battle tactics in Star Wars.

I am, of course, teaching cross-step waltz. It will be my second year in a row to do so. While there's heaps to enjoy about sharing my passions with the 14-17 year old set, there is a specific benefit I'd like to discuss, to wit, the acquisition of modern music to enhance the class.

See, high schoolers want to listen to hip, modern things. I am neither of these things (I own three tailcoats for god's sakes!) which means I get to spend a week beforehand frantically searching for music. The problem, of course, being that hip modern artists don't write a whole lot of waltz music. This means I get extraordinarily excited throughout the year every time I hear something in 3/4 time on the internet or radio.

Most recently, I was sent a Girlyman CD for my birthday, and it was just *loaded* with 3/4 time! Well, okay, two songs, but I look forward to adding "St Augestine" and "The Person You Want" to my DJing list.

And because no matter how many of this particular sort of blogpost I encounter, it's always a subtly different setlist, here are some of my favourite waltzes that were actually written some time this century:

  • Between, by Vienna Teng (by far my favourite waltz)
  • Lucky, by Bif Naked
  • Cassandra's Waltz, composed by Murray Gold for Doctor Who
  • Ampersand, by Amanda Palmer
  • Coattails of a Deadman, by Tom Waits
  • Herr Drosslemeyer's Doll, by Abney Park
  • The Only Exception, by Paramore
  • Down to Earth, by Peter Gabriel, for the Wall-E soundtrack
  • Davy Jones, composed by Hans Zimmer for the Pirates of the Carribean trilogy
  • Mother Superior, by Katzenjammer
  • Rainbow Connection, by Jim Henson (although my copy is sung by Tom Smith)
  • Woodburning, by Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • Friends, by the Beach Boys (I know, right? But it's a great little slow waltz!)
  • Spark, by Tori Amos
  • Carousel, by S.J. Tucker
  • Going North, by Missy Higgins
  • Heart Attack of '64, by the World/Inferno Friendship Society
  • A Little Priest, composed by Stephen Sondheim, for the musical Sweeney Todd
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, by Tom Lehrer (watch it! The melody...flutters)
  • With Whom to Dance, by the Magnetic Fields
  • The Riddle, composed by Frank Wildhorn for the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel.

If you've got recommendations to share, please do! I'm especially interested in slower waltzes for cross-step, but most any contemporary song in 3/4 or 6/8 will pique my interest. I like a wide range of music, and I'd love to be able to share it with my dancers.

3 comments:

Blaise Pascal said...

Two waltzes which are easy to find flowing into each other in recordings: "With a little help from my friends" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", both by the Beatles.

Actually, a Google Search brought up this thread from the Straight Dope Message Board: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-497789.html (which references an older thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-437853.html on the same topic) which has a lot of popular songs in Waltz time, including "Manic Depression" by Jimi Hendrix (a bit fast, a little bit syncopated, so perhaps not for beginners).

Joshua Kronengold said...

Wow -- hadn't noticed that Priest was in 3/4, mostly because it's ar eally fast waltz.

Will try to note modern waltzes rather than (just) dancing to them.

Anonymous said...

Might I suggest "Go Places", by the New Pornographers? It may be a bit quick for beginners, I haven't actually tried to waltz to it yet, but it's a great song and (in my admittedly uninformed opinion) the beat is pretty easy to follow.

There's also, if you want to go a sillier route, the old Sesame Street bit "I Love A Waltz" (easily found on Youtube), "Once Upon A Dream" (either the original or the new version from the end of Maleficent), and Aimee Mann's "Amateur". And of course everyone and their dog recommends Elliot Smith's "Waltz #2" and "Miss Misery".

(I found your blog looking for songs to dance to with my fiancee that weren't explicitly either sexist as hell or about straight people -- thanks for the suggestions! :) )