Can Music Be Too Fast? (Or Slow)

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Can Music Be Too Fast? (Or Slow)

#1 Post by Joninho22 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:50 am

So I've been wondering, have you ever had a DJ play a song that is just so fast, only a select few could even Bal to it? Consequently, what is a proper bpm limit for a song, or is there one?

Inversely, I have known alot of DJs at small events to think that slow means the pace of my grandmothers walking (which is quite slow)

Also, any songs you might think to be too fast have you ever thought about slowing them down (i know editing originals is bad, but it still happens)

My particular example is I heard Ella Fitzgerald's cut of 'Old Mcdonald," which is an amazing tune, and Ella swings the hell out of it, but its somewhere around 330 bpm, and I think the only couple that lasted the whole song had just showed up, and sat out the next 3 dances.

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#2 Post by Toon Town Dave » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:15 am

I think it's completely dependent on the audience. Certainly, the extreme fast and slow music is much more challenging. The cutoff tempo mostly on skill. On the fast end, how tired the audience it can play a big role as well but I've been surprised many times how well a fast tune will still go over after a long night of dancing.

As a DJ, it's obviously our job to pay attention to the audience. I think you probably should be varying the tempos. You should be able to get a sense of the the slow and fast limits for the audience and where the comfort zone might be if there is one.

With the audiences I usually play for, I don't think I've gone above 280-ish or below 60-ish. For a mostly swing set, I'd probably keep most of the distribution in the 100-220 range.

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#3 Post by penguin » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:13 am

As for the tempo-bending to make it danceable:

If it's so fast or slow as to make it extremely difficult for most folk to dance to you're not going to be able to make enough of a difference without distorting the sound such that it would be horrible to listen to.

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#4 Post by Shanabanana » Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:05 pm

There's one more factor to consider: inspiration. If the song is blazing fast, it also needs to be a freaking amazing song. I love dancing to fast songs, but I'm much less likely to dance to a mediocre 275 BPM song than I am a mediocre 175 BPM song.

330 BPM, no way I would play that for a dance. Not even at a Balboa event.

I'm anti-editing for general dancing music. You can't get a good sound with more than a 10% drop, and for a very fast song, that still wouldn't make it danceable. The only time I edit is for practicing a routine.

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#5 Post by CafeSavoy » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:46 pm

There's a relevant quote in this article that was posted in a Yehoodi thread on physicists looking at the structure of swinging music: ... ?full=true
Part of the reason for this relationship between the swing ratio and tempo, says Friberg, may be that there is a limit to how fast musicians can play a note-and how easily listeners can distinguish individual notes. At medium tempos and above, the duration of the short eighth notes remained more or less constant at slightly under one-tenth of a second. The shortest melody notes in jazz have a similar minimum duration. Friberg thinks this should set a maximum practical tempo for jazz of around 320 beats per minute, and very few jazz recordings approach this speed.

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#6 Post by wspeid » Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:11 pm

What Dave said. Its all completely dependent on the audience.

We're a navy town so my local scene went from being a trad jazz 200 bpm Charleston crowd to a Groove scene that only danced in the 120-150 bpm range and then to a 140-225 bpm scene depending on who was rotated into or out of town for a tour of duty.