How to count bars per minute for dancing? Frequently Asked Questions

This is one of those questions that most people involved in dance music need to know the answer to. Bars help you measure time in music, and if you know how to count the bars in a piece of music, you should be able to measure out your dancing too. That's not to say it's entirely easy, because if all songs were the same, bars would follow the same principles. However, not all bars are the same in length. So to understand the basic bar structure is a good place to start.

A bar usually means four beats. For example, if you listen to a piece of music and count to four, that is usually what is seen as a bar. In hip hop and rap music for example, any stretch of rapping usually lasts about 16 bars long. You can test this next time you listen to some hip hop music. Most of the time, songs in hip-hop have rapping sections that last for 16 bars.

Obviously, as stated earlier, not all bars are the same in length. But if we look at about 4 beats per bar as a standard, you should quite easily be able to use this equation to find the bars per minute in a piece of music that you want to dance to.

Get a feel for the music

If you listen to a piece of music and want to count the bars in it, get a feel for the music first of all and try and work out how many beats occur on a repetitive basis. For example, if you count 1, 2, 3, and then 4, That is a 4 beat bar.

Bearing all of this in mind, if you are able to identify the number of beats in a bar, which is the only complicated part of the equation, then you can simply count the bars as the piece of music moves along. Use a stopwatch to make sure that you can accurately find a minute in the music, and then simply count the bars.