Dancing and Physics

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dance music. I’ve been a DJ for 5 years now, and dancing for longer, but I’ve never taken a step back to ask exactly what it is about music that makes people want to bounce, shake, jiggle, or do whatever they do when a groovy tune comes on.

If my memory serves me correct, physics tells us that all objects have a natural frequency at which they resonate. My mind has been occupied with this phenomenon lately while in the club environment: is dancing merely the resonance of the human body? And if so, what is the natural frequency of the human body?

There are a plethora of dance music styles, with new genres popping up every day. Regardless of the style, most dance music tends to fall into a few natural modes: hip hop and downtempo tends to fall in the range of 60-80 BPM while techno and house are typically 120-140 BPM. Are these related to the natural frequency of the human body, or just stylistic constraints? I want to know.

One has to be careful though. If there is a unique frequency that makes most people bounce wildly, and this number were to fall into the wrong hands, the fate of dancers could be the same as some classic bridges and buildings. Yes, what I’m talking about is a dance track that resonates so much it causes all dancers to shake wildly until their arms and legs are ripped away from their torsos. As soon as I learn the magic frequency, the dance track of destruction will be mine I tell you, MINE! And all ravers will be subject to my control!

10 thoughts on “Dancing and Physics

  1. I seem to remember that The Flash could vibrate the molecules in his body at a certain frequency and travel to Earth 2, where he would often team up with The Justice Society of America to fight Vandal Savage. Creating a dance track using that frequency would also be pretty cool.

  2. actually, there have been numerous investigations into finding exactly this rhythym. scientists have already decoded a frequency which will essentially put a person into REM sleep, so i think discovering the human rhythym is possible. like you mentioned, physics tells us that everything in nature has a vibration. i think it’s just a matter of syncing up with it. =)

  3. My little girl (7 weeks old today) falls asleep to dance/rave music, no matter what the volume is. We decided that one of two things is happening.
    One, while in utero baby got used to driving beat dance music while my wife was at aerobics 5 days a week.
    Two, sound travels strongly through matter filled space. In utero, the baby’s sense of hearing is well developed and the driving beat of the heart is a familiar sound.
    I think while in momma’s tummy we all hard wire neural pathways that respond to a driving bass beat. The 60-140BPM range is what pregnant women stay within. While working out the OB doc says to keep heart rate no greater than 150.
    Look at it this way, you have two options. One, tap into that shared human neural pathway provoking mass dance the world over through sophisticated use of bass and track mixing. Two, if that doesn’t work, market rave music CDs for infants as the developmental answer to baby sleep. Get a Ph.D to rubberstamp it and sell it at Babys-R-Us.

  4. Can’t quite remember where I read/heard this, but the sweet spot for matching the natural internal rhythms is right around 135 bpm. It’s this — and not the drugs apparently — that sends the trance crowd into a frenzy at Ibiza. The observation goes back to African tribal days…they beat their drums at about the same frequency to induce similar craziness.

    (Just remembered…I saw this in a documentary of electronic music called Better Living Through Circuitry.)

    iTunes plug-in, circa 2006: A mouse containing a biosensor measures the distinct natural rhythm of the computer user and adjusts the tempo of the music to match.

  5. I’ve always thought that this was somehow related to the typical heart beat frequency (around 80 bpm for adults, doubled = 160 bpm), but this is pure speculation. I’ve never researched the issue.

  6. lately i have been interested in the relationship of notes and rhythm…

    in addition to what jkottke wrote…

    i think maybe the rhythm is 137,655 bpm— that would be a matching rhythm to the note d … (587,330 *15/64)

    now i wonder what those indian drummers would say about this, since the now-used american standard note system is artificial 😉

    but seriously, i think this is an interesting topic and i’m sure that there is a relationship between frequencies / rhythm and human emotion… i doubt that there is a common rhythm that will throw certain switches for all of us tho…but who knows…maybe our systems have been fine tuned in millions of years of evolution to certain natural rhythms (light) and somehow this can be translated into musical rhythm …

  7. I was browsing some cd’s and i thought I had found a set of Trance cd’s but it wasn’t the type of trance I was thinking of. Turns out that it’s music that different religions use to whip themselves into trances. They even had a balinese temple chant where “trancers stab at themselves with long daggers”. It’s pretty trippy stuff. Anyways, here’s a link to it http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00002R16V/ref=cm_custrec_gl_acc/103-1726393-9343806?v=glance&s=music
    I imagine this stuff could make some pretty wicked mixes. If you use this in a mix, please let me know because I would like to hear it.
    AOL-IM (alphasniper223)

  8. i am board so i am in class and i am writghtin to this stupid thing cuz if you go by this to know how to dance you are a loser and have to much time on your hands and need to get a life!!!!

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