Music education always & always looking forward.

Symmetrical Compound Meter in Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman"

"Oh, come on now.  As a music teacher, you're promoting Ariana Grande?  Seriously?"  

In my opinion, the work of any current musical artist can turn into a teachable moment.  If we're talking about extremely of-the-moment artists, it may actually be that Grande's moment in the sun was in 2014.  But close enough.  

I have used Grande as a teaching example, especially in my chorus class, as we talk about different vocal registers.  Regardless of your opinion of her, she is one of the few pop singers who makes effective use of the whistle register: two notable others being, of course, Mariah Carey, and Minnie Ripperton, the latter who mastered the whistle register.  Grande is capable in the whistle register, but doesn't seem to use it to much quite as effect in her songs.

She is also from the same county that I teach in, and a colleague of mine told me that she played French horn in his band for a little bit.  According to him (and he's a trustworthy colleague), Grande has perfect pitch and was a genuinely lovely young lady.  But as we know, fame can change people -- just hopefully not destroy the gift of perfect pitch.  

That said, proceed with extreme caution with this song, as although it came out this year and may appear topical, Grande has clearly entered the phase of her career, as many before her, where her sensuality is at the forefront of her media image.

WARNING: The music video to this song is in NO WAY APPROPRIATE for student viewing in class & should probably not be recommended.

”Dangerous Woman" - Ariana Grande

Intro: A newer force onto the pop scene, Ariana Grande translated her popularity as an actress on youth-oriented shows into album sales. Her first two albums (2013's Yours Truly & 2014's My Everything) both debuted on the Billboard chart at no. 1, and the lead single off of those two albums as well as 2016's Dangerous Woman debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. My Everything and its lead single, "Problem", charted internationally, as well. Grande's accolades are various, including two American Music Awards and two Grammy nominations. 

Analysis: Although in a slower tempo that could be confused for 3/4 time, the song "Dangerous Woman" is performed in 6/8 time. The big differentiation between this performance and typical 3/4 time is that there is a drum accent (on the snare drum rim) on beat 4 (of 6) in each measure of this song, making it a good example of telling the aural difference between 3/4 and 6/8 time.

Considerations for Teaching: Both lyrically and thematically, this song would be totally inappropriate to teach in a secondary musical educational setting. Although Grande uses no overt profanity in this song, the meaning lyrics are easily discernible and inappropriate for a classroom setting. The video included below is not the official video released by Grande; that video would be even more inappropriate for classroom use. If using to differentiate between 3/4 and 6/8 time, only the instrumental portions of the song should be played.

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