|Figure skating music should enhance a skater's skill. Beat, dynamics, tempo, rhythm, timbre, pitch, texture and form should be considered when choosing and editing it because the interaction of these components creates the illusion of movement on which the actual movement rests. The synthesis of virtual musical movement and the skater's physical movement defines the performance whether the programme's inspiration is a story, an external theme or skating itself.
Just because a piece of music is good does not mean that an edited version, even a very sensitive one, will be good for skating. Sometimes the development of the theme is so complex that the sense of the piece is destroyed rendering it inappropriate or crass. Even when the theme remains intact there are still many factors to be considered in selection and editing:
1. Music with great variance in dynamics may be too soft in parts to be heard in an ice rink. This can of
course be corrected by boosting the recording level but musical statements made through contrasting
dynamics will be lost.
2. The andante-largo-allegro musical format common in figure skating music is not the only way to
achieve variety in tempo. Consider varying the order of the tempos or the tempo of the movement.
3. The rhythm of the piece will greatly influence the character of the solo; the skater needs to be
competent. Unless syncopation, rubato etc. are skated convincingly it can appear simply to be off the
beat which runs counter to figure skating rules.
4. Some instruments are not well-suited to rink acoustics. Piccolos and flutes can be grating and large
drums can easily be swallowed up.
5. Melodies with larger intervals are generally easier to hear in a rink.
6. Caution should be exercised when choosing music from countries like India and China as they have
different harmonic and melodic intervals and scales to which Western ears are not accustomed. The
increase in popularity of World music is increasing Western ability to appreciate Asian, African
and other music.
7. Pieces too dense in texture often come out sounding like drones. Fugues are difficult for singles
skaters to use as they are often muddy in a rink but if clear enough may provide interesting contrapuntal
opportunities for pairs and dance. Solo instruments provide a simple and malleable partner.
8. Form should remain evident within each piece and in the programme as a whole. For example, if a
piece is in rondo form be prepared to repeat it. ABA forms should not be left unfulfilled; if an AB form is
desired that is what should be chosen.
9. Pay attention to the cadences. Consider the effect that can be created with a moment of silence.
10. Trust the composer. When developing an overall form for a programme comprising music from
different sources decide which aspects of the music will be contrasted and which will remain constant
as a unifying force.
It is almost always necessary to do some editing to conform to the rules. Music should be chosen mindful of the length of the finished piece. There are some pieces that simply cannot be resolved within the allotted time. Artistically, edit points can be treated in one of three ways:
1. Resolve. Music is driven towards a resolution. Following the composerís lead can help the editor to
conclude one piece completely before starting a new one.
2. Build. Some pieces have crescendos perfectly suited to lead into the next piece. This method is perfect
for preparing medleys.
3. Bridge. Two seemingly dissimilar pieces of music can sometimes be joined by using a third piece as a
bridge. Consider using a harp glissando or drum roll to get to the next piece.
Technically, edit points can be:
1. Butted. A cut is made after a certain note and the next piece begins immediately, in tempo, creating a
seamless flow from one selection to the next. The success of this method depends mostly on the choice
of edit point.
2. Cross-faded. Two pieces of music are played simultaneously; the first piece gradually decreases in
volume while the second piece gradually increases. This method is useful when two pieces are too
dissimilar or the texture is too dense to butt them together.
Soundtracks are very popular. Because they clarify motion on screen they can be well suited to enhancing a skaterís movement but should be treated with the same sensitivity as any other piece of music. Unfortunately many skaters use them as a crutch adding nothing more to it. The result is a shallow, perplexing mime that detracts from rather than enhances the performance. All skaters create a look. Those who refuse to explore their music and movement might create an unintentional look. Tributes to a character from a movie should reveal that characterís inner life, otherwise, it may inadvertently become a tribute to the plot.
Another popular and fruitful type of skating music is fusion. Techno versions of classical music, symphonic versions of pop music and some world and new age music are examples musical styles fused to produce a new, hybrid sound. The sound created will not typify its roots and so it usually needs to be used in a new way. ĎClassicalí music has always been a popular choice for skating music largely because of its availability and clarity and the flexibility it allows.
The musicís popularity should also be considered regardless of its style. If music is chosen that many others have used or are using the skater should be prepared to bring something fresh to the interpretation; otherwise it could appear hackneyed.
Overall the choice and preparation of the music should enhance and support the skater's movement- not over or under whelm it. Because the choice of music is so important in defining the skaterís performance coaches and choreographers must have a very strong influence in the music selection. It is not surprising that young people (and some adults) so frequently choose popular music- conformity is very important to them. Limited exposure to different musical styles, lack of musical knowledge and superfluous social concerns must not be allowed to undermine their own performances. And since the choice and editing of solo music can make or break the performance, only highly qualified and experienced professionals should prepare it.