Jaques-Dalcroze’s Arm Beats

Jaques-Dalcroze’s Arm Beats

Jaques-Dalcroze’s Arm Beats, With Legs

(First posted in May, 2005)

This one’s a real challenge!

Jaques-Dalcroze’s original method books include two volumes of “Rhythmique,” then translated as “Rhythmic Movement.” Among other skills and subjects explored, Jaques-Dalcroze’s arm beat and stepping patterns are introduced, over eight chapters, as physical experiences in meters of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The arm beats are standard fare in many Eurhythmics classes today, but the leg movements were new to me. So I decided to memorize them — a task I found surprisingly difficult! For one thing, there’s a lot of page-flipping involved, so here are the patterns in sequence for you to try on your own. In analyzing them afterward, we’ll discover where the real difficulties lie.

In each meter, Jaques-Dalcroze presents the arm beats first, and then the corresponding leg movements are given under the heading “Analysis of Note Values.” So I present them here in the same order, but combined. Take your time learning and practicing each from memory.

2: Arms

AB2

2: With Legs

Not pictured in text, but described thus:

“On beat 1, step; on beat 2, bend the supporting leg. The free leg remains free and makes the next step.”

3: Arms

AB3

3:With Legs

LB3

 

3: Description:

“Beat 1, the step; Beat 2, cross the free leg over the supporting leg; Beat 3, resume position 1. The free leg makes the fresh step. The arms beat 3. On beat 2 the head is inclined in the opposite direction from that of the crossed leg.”

 

4: Arms

AB4

4: With Legs

LB4[/one_half]

4: Description:

“From 4 to 1: The step. From 1 to 2: The free leg is lightly crossed over the supporting leg. From 2 to 3: The free leg is stretched out sideways. From 3 to 4: The free leg rejoins the supporting leg.”

 

5: Arms

AB5

5: With Legs

LB5

5: Description:

“5 to 1: The step. 1 to 2: Cross the free leg over the supporting leg. 2 to 3: Stretch the free leg out in front bending the supporting leg. 3 to 4: Extend the free leg to one side. 4 to 5: Bring the free leg back to the supporting leg.”

6: Arms

AB6

6: With Legs

LB6

6: Description:

“1. Step. 2. Cross the free leg (bending the knee of supporting leg). 3. Extend the free leg in front. 4. Straighten the supporting leg, keeping the free leg extended in front. 5. Extend the free leg to one side. 6. Bring the free leg back to the supporting leg.”

7: Arms

AB7

7: With Legs

LB7

7: Description:

“1. Step. 2. Cross the free leg (bending the knee of supporting leg). 3. Extend the free leg in front. 4. Straighten the supporting leg, keeping the free leg extended in front. 5. Extend the free leg to one side. 6. Bring the free leg back to the supporting leg.”

8: Arms

AB8

8: With Legs

LB8

8: Description:

“1, 2, 3, 4: as in the note of six beats. 5: the free leg is extended behind, the supporting leg is bent. 6, 7: as 5 and 6 in “seven.”

9: Arms

AB9

9: With Legs

LB9

9: Description:

“1, 2,3,4,5: As in the notes of 7 and 8 beats. 6: The free leg is stretched still further back; the supporting leg bends more. 7,8,9: As 6,7,8 in the note of 8 beats.”

The difficulty in memorizing the pattern?

You may have discovered that the patterns don’t seem logical, don’t “get into” the body easily, and are difficult to conceptualize. There are several reasons for this, but analysis of how “new” beats are added in arms and legs reveals an irregularity.

In the chart below, the “new” movements are in bold. This shows clearly that the arms and legs do not associate in a consistent manner. In approaching the meter of 4, for example, the new arm movement occurs on beat 2, but the new leg movement occurs on beat 3. Similarly, in the measure of 9, the associations are broken when the new arm beat is added on beat 7, while the new leg movement is added on beat 6.

The movements themselves don’t consume equal amounts of space, they are physically awkward to execute, and they develop in an illogical structure. Those factors make me wonder how they were devised. For example, were the arms and legs created together, with the arms then isolated for initial study? Or were the arms devised first, with the legs added later? And, was the entire structure conceived of as a whole, or were movements for beats added as time went on, perhaps running out of ideas at the final leg movement (which is simply ‘further back, more bent’)? Or did Jaques-Dalcroze truly decide, for whatever reasons, that this was the structure that he found worked best musically and pedagogically?

If you don’t know, it means one thing: Your guess is as good as mine!

 Beats: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Arms down up
Legs back (str) in (str)
Arms down out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) in (str)
Arms down in (cr) out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) out side in (str)
Arms down in (cr) fwd out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) dir fr(bnt) out side in (str)
Arms down in (cr) fwd flex out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) dir fr (bnt) dir fr (str) out side in (str)
Arms down in (cr) fwd flex in (cr) out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) dir fr (bnt) dir fr (str) back (bnt) out side in (str)
Arms down in (cr) fwd flex in (cr) fwd out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) dir fr (bnt) dir fr (str) back (bnt) bk cr (bnt) out side in (str)
Arms down in (cr) fwd flex in (cr) fwd flex out side up
Legs back (str) cr fr (bnt) dir fr (bnt) dir fr (str) back (bnt) m bk (m bt) bk cs (bnt) out side in (str)

Source: Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, The Jaques-Dalcroze Method of Eurhythmics: Rhythmic Movement. Vol. I: Novello & Co., 1920; Vol II: Novello & Co., 1921.

2018-03-18T17:35:04+00:00