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I'm making a music game. It's a dancing game to electronic music at 120ish bpm in 4/4 time (I'm assuming).

I have beats, and 4 of those make a measure.

But dancers yell that 5,6,7,8 before dancing, so whats a good name for those pairs of measures?

The music seems very structured into groups of 8 measures with a theme, then move to another theme. I've been calling these "Movements" - they don't always have to be 8 measures, but seem to be a power of two.

Naming things is about communicating. I've been googling, but haven't found a description for these groups of measures.

Is it structured or do yall just make it up?

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  • Note that the typical dancer's "5, 6, 7, 8" is all four beats done within one measure. That single measure sets the tempo, and probably does some other stuff I'm not aware of.
    – user45266
    Mar 4, 2020 at 4:57
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    "phrases"? "verses"? Mar 4, 2020 at 6:43
  • segments? sequences? 'movement' already has a meaning [in classical music if not EDM], so avoid that.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 4, 2020 at 8:13
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    As judge mental says phrases.
    – b3ko
    Mar 4, 2020 at 12:33
  • Thanks! I ended up with beat, bar (from tool I'm using), Dancers Set (from "Dancers 8"), and intensity as an adjective vs movement as a noun. Mar 5, 2020 at 16:14

4 Answers 4

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Groups of measures that contain one idea are called a phrase. Phrases are often, but not always, four measures long. Phrases can be grouped together and simply be called "phrase groups" or they can follow a stricter form called periods if they contain certain cadence patterns. There are different types of periods, as well, depending on the melodic structure and cadences of the phrases that are included. These are the foundations of larger structures and form in music.

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A '5,6,7,8' count-in (and that's the name for it) at q=120 sounds like it would be one bar. (Funny thing - dancers like to count backwards, a musician would be more likely to shout '1,2,3,4.)

No, a 'movement' is a (much) bigger unit than a 4 or 8-bar phrase (which is probably the word you want). A movement is a complete piece of music.

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I have been searching Google myself and no-one seems to understand the question. But I found something...

Heres a link that shows it clearly... 4 measures are called a phrase. 8 measures are called a period.

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  • This is already stated in the accepted answer (the one with the green check-mark next to it. Can you add some more?
    – Aaron
    Dec 24, 2020 at 0:46
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The lead-in notes that are understood to somehow before its true beginning are called anacrusis. When we count before the tune starts, that's a sort of anacrusis. Sometimes when music with an anacrusis loops, the last measure's ending is short, and combines with the anacrusis. E.g. a 3 note anacrusis in 4/4 time might start music which ends on a bar that has just one beat; this is supposed to dove-tail with a repeat of the anacrusis.

Groups of related measures could be called segments or sequences. It sounds as if the music in question consists of 8 bar sequences that are introduced by an anacrusis/countdown, and have space in the last measure to accommodate the next such lead-in.

Music that consists of unrelated melodic sequences, or entire tunes, stitched together, usually under an uninterrupted tempo, is a medley.

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    'Anacrusis' isn't really the right word for a dance 'count in'.
    – Laurence
    Mar 4, 2020 at 14:11
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    I disagree with your use of "segment" and "sequence." A segment is more of a reference to a group of figures that make up a piece of a measure or measures, not an entire phrase. "Sequence" has a very specific meaning, which is a segment of music (using the definition I just gave) that is immediately played again, transposed up or down by a certain interval. Sequences are often, though not always, found in groups of three. A phrase can contain sequences, but a sequence by itself does not necessarily make a phrase.
    – Heather S.
    Mar 4, 2020 at 14:56

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