Tap music – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Music Glossary

I. What is Tap Music?

Tap music is a genre of music that is closely associated with tap dancing. It is characterized by its rhythmic patterns and percussive sounds, which are created by the tapping of metal plates on the dancer’s shoes. Tap music is often used in tap dance performances to provide a musical accompaniment to the dancer’s movements.

II. History of Tap Music

Tap music has its roots in African American and Irish dance traditions. In the early 19th century, African American slaves brought their rhythmic dance and music traditions to the United States, where they mixed with Irish step dancing to create a new form of dance known as tap dancing. Tap music became popular in vaudeville shows and eventually made its way to Broadway and Hollywood.

During the 20th century, tap music continued to evolve and became a popular form of entertainment in jazz clubs and dance halls. Famous tap dancers such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Gregory Hines helped to popularize tap dancing and tap music in mainstream culture.

III. Characteristics of Tap Music

Tap music is characterized by its syncopated rhythms, complex footwork, and improvisational nature. The music is often fast-paced and energetic, with the dancer’s feet creating intricate patterns and rhythms that complement the music. Tap music can be performed solo or in groups, with dancers using their shoes as percussive instruments to create a unique sound.

One of the key characteristics of tap music is its use of syncopation, which involves accenting off-beat rhythms to create a sense of tension and release in the music. This gives tap music its distinctive sound and makes it a popular choice for dancers looking to showcase their skills and creativity.

IV. Instruments Used in Tap Music

The primary instrument used in tap music is the tap dancer’s shoes, which are fitted with metal plates that create a distinct tapping sound when they come into contact with the floor. These metal plates are usually made of aluminum or steel and are attached to the sole of the shoe to allow the dancer to create a variety of sounds and rhythms.

In addition to the tap dancer’s shoes, tap music may also feature other percussive instruments such as drums, cymbals, and tambourines. These instruments are used to provide a rhythmic accompaniment to the dancer’s movements and enhance the overall sound of the music.

V. Famous Tap Music Artists

There have been many talented tap dancers and musicians who have made a significant impact on the world of tap music. Some of the most famous tap music artists include:

– Bill “Bojangles” Robinson: Known for his smooth style and innovative footwork, Robinson was one of the most popular tap dancers of the early 20th century.
– Gregory Hines: A versatile performer who excelled in both tap dancing and acting, Hines helped to bring tap music to a wider audience through his work in film and television.
– Savion Glover: A modern-day tap virtuoso, Glover is known for his innovative choreography and dynamic performances that push the boundaries of traditional tap dancing.

These artists have helped to shape the evolution of tap music and inspire future generations of dancers and musicians to explore the possibilities of this unique art form.

VI. Influence of Tap Music on Dance Culture

Tap music has had a significant influence on dance culture, both in the United States and around the world. Its rhythmic patterns and percussive sounds have inspired dancers of all backgrounds to explore new ways of expressing themselves through movement and music.

In addition to its impact on dance culture, tap music has also influenced other genres of music, such as jazz and hip-hop. The syncopated rhythms and improvisational nature of tap music have been incorporated into these styles, creating a fusion of sounds and movements that continue to evolve and inspire new generations of artists.

Overall, tap music remains a vibrant and dynamic art form that continues to captivate audiences with its energy, creativity, and infectious rhythms. Whether performed on stage or in a dance studio, tap music is a powerful form of expression that celebrates the beauty and joy of movement and music.