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.


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! :) )