Waltz Timing

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A waltz, or valse from the French term, is a piece of music in triple meter, most often  3/4-beat (help·info) but sometimes 3/8 or 3/2. Waltzes typically have one chord per measure, and the accompaniment style particularly associated with the waltz is (as seen in the example to the right) to play the root of the chord on the first beat, the upper notes on the second and third beats. The left hand accompaniment is known as an "oom-pa-pa" beat and consists of one of the major chords, C, F or G.

Timing/ Rhythm

  • Waltz timing is 3 beats to a measure.
  • Most waltz figures have a step on each beat; there are no holds.
  • Forward, Step, Step; Back, Step, Step;


  • Dance Frame” is very important in dancing Waltz. A good Closed Position enables partners to dance together smoothly. Feet are off-set. Right feet are between each other’s feet; left feet are outside. Both people should be looking to the left, over partner’s right shoulder.


Popular song waltzes
The waltz was a familiar format in popular songs until the 1970s. Some waltzes which are well-known popular hits include:

  • http://www.dancingbeat.org/images/waltz.jpgFrom the first decades of the 20th century, "Kiss Me Again", "Beautiful Ohio", "I'm Falling in Love with Someone", "When I Lost You".
  • From the 1920s: "The Anniversary Waltz", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Always", "Remember", "What'll I Do", "All Alone", "The Song Is Ended", "Russian Lullaby", "Marie", "Together", "Lover", "Charmaine".
  • From the 1930s: "Falling in Love with Love", "Fascination", "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "Reaching for the Moon", "Someday My Prince Will Come", "The Touch of Your Hand", "Wait Till You See Her", "When I Grow Too Old to Dream".
  • From the 1940s: "Goodnight, Irene", "You Always Hurt the One You Love", "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", "Out of My Dreams", "Californ-i-ay", "Hello, Young Lovers", "The Carousel Waltz", "The Girl That I Marry", "The Girl Next Door", "Cruising Down the River", "Tenderly", "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk", "It's a Big, Wide, Wonderful World", "You're Breaking My Heart". "This Nearly Was Mine", "A Wonderful Guy".
  • From the 1950s: "The Tennessee Waltz", "If", "I Went To Your Wedding", "(How Much Is) The Doggie in the Window", "Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)", "True Love", "Allegheny Moon", "Rock and Roll Waltz", "Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)", "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", "Tammy", "Around the World", "The Chipmunk Song", "El Paso", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things".
  • From the 1960s: "The Times They Are a-Changin'", "Moon River", "Charade", "Dear Heart", "Somewhere, My Love (Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago)", "The Sweetheart Tree", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Time to Get Alone", "Friends", "The Last Waltz", "Jean".
  • From the 1970s: "Time in a Bottle", "Piano Man", "Annie's Song", "When I Need You", "You Light Up My Life", "If You Don't Know Me By Now", "Three Times a Lady", "Take It to the Limit", The Godfather Waltz, "Watching the River Run" by Jim Messina, "My Sweet and Tender Beast" by Eugen Doga.
  • From the 1980s: "Friends and Lovers (Both to Each Other)", "At This Moment".

Among popular composers, it seems they either wrote a lot of waltzes or almost none. Irving Berlin was known for his many waltzes, including "When I Lost You", "Always", "Remember", "What'll I Do", "All Alone", "The Song Is Ended", "Russian Lullaby", "Marie", "Reaching for the Moon", "The Girl That I Marry", "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk", "(Just One Way To Say) I Love You", and "Let's Go Back to the Waltz". Similarly, Richard Rodgers wrote many waltzes, including "Lover", "Oh What a Beautiful Morning", "Out of My Dreams", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Falling in Love with Love", "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "Wait Till You See Her" "This Nearly Was Mine", "A Wonderful Guy", "Hello, Young Lovers", and "The Carousel Waltz". Henry Mancini included many waltzes among his popular songs: "Moon River", "Charade", "Dear Heart", "The Sweetheart Tree", and "Whistling Away the Dark". In contrast, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Cole Porter wrote only a small number of waltzes each. Stephen Sondheim often uses the waltz in his music, particularly in A Little Night Music

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