Waltz Music

Waltz music is a piece of music in triple meter, most commonly 3/4. It is sometimes 3/8 or 6/8, but it always has a 1.2.3. , 1.2.3 count and somewhat slow tempo. Most waltz music typically has one cord per measure, where the root of the chord is the first note.

Most Classical composers traditionally would supply music for dancing when it was required, and most waltzes by Schubert were written for household dancing, rather than for being art music. Chopin’s 18 waltzes were complete opposite, and were not intended to be danced. These waltzes marked the adoption of the waltz as a dance style as well as many other dance forms as serious composition genres.

The waltz first became popular in Vienna in about the 1780s, and then spread all throughout the world in the later 80s. The waltz became the main focus of all other types of ballroom dancing, with its unique closed position that influenced many. New styles of ballroom dances were developed after the invention of the waltz, including waltz variations and many other folk and ballroom styles. Once this style of dancing became more popular throughout the world, the world waltz actually referred to a dance style. A waltz style of dance would incorporate turns, and would indicate rotating rather than moving straight without any turns or spins.

Although the waltz did have its main founding fathers, there are also many others that made a huge contribution to both the music and dance styles of the waltz. Brahms’ “16” and Ravel’s “Valses nobles et sentimentales” were significant pieces of music in the waltz genre, and have developed waltz music into what we hear today.

Almost every kind of European and Euro-American folk and classical music incorporates elements from waltz music into their own. The term waltz is normally associated with the dance style with the same name, but many waltzes were actually composed for the opposite purposes. Waltz music is very popular in concert, and many waltzes are written only for that purpose.

Because Waltz music was praised in European music circles, waltz composers would receive the title of the “Waltz King” if they were the best at the time. Not only did they get the title, but also a decorated royal staff baton that was passed from musician to musician when it was awarded. Johann Strauss Junior was one of the most popular waltz composers during this time, and had received the honor of being the “Waltz King” many times.

In both the 19th and 20th centuries, many different types of waltz existed, including variations that were done in either 2/4 or 6/8, which is normally referred to as a sauteuse. The 5/4 time is another variation, and is sometimes referred to as half and half. Vernon and Irene Caste introduced the Hesitation Waltz in the early 1900s, and it incorporated fast music along with hesitations. Hesitations were a dance move using in the waltz, and was when one halted on the standing foot during the full waltz measure. The moving foot would be suspended in the air or slowly dragged during the same measure, and it portrayed a hesitation.

There are many different waltz variants, including the Viennese Waltz, which is a faster version of the original waltz. In International Waltz, the dancers are always in the closed position unlike many other versions of the same style. The American Style Waltz is completely opposite the International Waltz, since it involves breaking contact frequently and almost entirely. The Cross Step Waltz is a newer style of waltz, and the first step in the dance is a cross-step taken in the line of direction. There are also different styles of waltz that developed in different countries, such as the Peruvian Waltz or Mexican Waltz. Although they follow the same basic pattern as the standard waltz, the melodies are similar to their specific styles of music.


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