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Creating a Music Routine

Flying a choreographed routine to music in front of a large crowd of people is, well for me at least, an indescribable experience of excitement, nerves and adrenaline. It is your job to entertain the crowd and being on center stage is not an easy thing to undertake especially if things do not go well - a few minutes can seem like a lifetime in the middle of the arena. So what makes a good ballet routine and where do you even begin with creating one? Hopefully this article with help to answer these questions.

Selecting the Music

Choosing what piece you are going to fly to is obviously the first step. Unfortunately the more routines you write to music the harder this step will become! The more experienced you are the more fussy you will be in your music selection. Some flyers will even compose or mix their own music to fly to.

The ideal piece of music will be one that will enable you the flyer(s) to provide the most visual interest through variation of moves as well as being able to show off your range of kite skills.

Variation * Contrast = Interest

The best way to create interest in a routine is to vary what you do. Variation in speed of moves, tempo of turns, position in the sky, sharpness, smoothness all add interest. As a pair or a team variation can also be increased by performing mirrored moves, parallel moves, synchronized moves and asynchronized moves. By placing two moves together that contrast greatly will multiply this interest. For example a series of fast sharp turns will look more effective if proceeded by a series of slow smooth moves.

It is therefore logical to assume that to fly a high contrasting, varied routine you therefore require a piece of high contrasting and varied music. You are looking for music with changing tempo and changing volume. If you pick a piece of music that is repetitive and does not vary greatly then you will be extremely limited in what you can choreograph to it.

The Dynamic Map

If you were to plot the level of interest or 'wow factor' of a routine against time, then you come up with a graph that is called the dynamic map - a concept pioneered by the Robertshaw brothers. Bearing in mind that a judge or indeed any spectator of your routine will only recall the very start and the very end of your performance, then you will want to ensure that all of your high scoring moves do not fall in one single clump in the middle. This would look like a single peak on your dynamic map. Ideally you want a peak at the start and then an even greater peak at the end - your big finale. You can then of course put some lesser peaks in the middle to keep the interest. The main point to make is that ensure that your best moves will be in the right places of your routine to maximize their effect.

The X Factor

The last thing to look for in a piece of music is the magical ingredient - the x factor. You are probably thinking now 'what the hell is he going on about?!' Well, you could call this the emotional element of a piece of music - the type of music causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. Classical music tends to have a higher x factor than most. This is probably due to the great dynamic range and power that you get with classical pieces. To write a high scoring music routine you do not need a piece of music that contains the x factor, however it can certainly help you a great deal if you come up with the routine that matches it perfectly.

Writing Your Moves

If you've chosen a good piece of music then coming up with moves to fit your music should be easy right? Of course! Well, not always, however, more often than not the hardest sections that your write moves for turn out to be the most interesting.

It should be noted that the method described here is entirely my own method for coming up with a routine to music. There might be better methods out there, there are hopefully worse ones. Do not feel that you have to do it this way, but it will hopefully help you to get started in the very least.

Listen, then listen again

As soon as you have your music, listen to it again and again and again. After that, listen to it once more! The first thing you must do is become knowledgeable in the music that you are going to write to so that you know it inside out, back to front and upside down. In doing this you might already start to have ideas generated in your mind of what types of moves are going to match well with specific sections of the music.

Initially you need to pick out the most interesting key sections in the music. As discussed previously, these should include in order of importance - the end, the start and maybe two sections in the middle. Try to write moves to these sections first - these will be the 'key frames' of your routine of which you will 'tween' moves in between them after.

Whether I am writing for team, pair or individual, the basic method that I use is the same. Taking a section of no more than 15 to 20 seconds at a time, I listen to it repeatedly and try to record on paper the key notes. One way of doing this is to draw a line on a piece of paper at a consistent speed as you listen to the music. Each time you hear a key beat or note in the music, change the direction of the line that you're drawing. For a sharp beat you might draw a ninety degree corner, for a soft note you might even draw a loop, for a pause you might mark a cross to indicate a stop. The path you draw across the paper is not important - what you are trying to record are the 'types' of key notes and action points in the section of music and when they occur relative to one another.

After a few attempts you should be able to build up an accurate timeline of the section of music. I think of this as being like a piece of wire that I can bend at the corners to make different shapes. Looking at your timeline try to come up with a possible move that fit its structure. Remember that you might have recorded all the key beats on your timeline, but it doesn't mean that you have to do something on each and everyone of them.

Always write to the music - an obvious statement, however it is all too easy to say: "wouldn't it be good if we could put in some axels now? That must score well". The question you should really ask is "does your proposed move clearly fit to the music?". If the answer is no then simply you will need to come up with a different move that does. Don't try to push a square peg through a round hole.

One thing to bear in mind is that a competition sport kite travels slower in the sky than you might think, so always be pessimistic in the distance that you cover from one turn to the next. It is easier to slow a kite down than it is to speed up.

Once you have written moves for each of your key sections, the next task is to join them up. Again, use exactly the same method as before, but take in to consideration that you might have to end up in a particular position for the next key move. Also for team and pair take in to consideration any wraps that you might have to have set-up going in to the next move.

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