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Choosing your music for synchronised swimming

Are you wondering how to choose the right music for your artistic swimming choreography? Follow our guide to finding the right soundtrack.

Are you preparing a new synchronised swimming ballet or duet? It's not always easy to find the right music. Music that the audience will enthusiastically applaud and the jury will reward with a top artistic score. In this article, written with two synchronised swimming fanatics, Justine and Margaux, we go through all the right questions you should ask yourself. Why is it important to choose the right music for artistic swimming? And how should you choose it? How long should it last? 
This way for all the Dos and Don’ts of music for synchronised swimming ;) 

Why is the music so important in synchronised swimming?

Choosing your music for synchronised swimming

Five good reasons 

Reason N°1: for the theme and the choreography 
Choosing the theme is always the starting point of a choreography. And the music is necessarily linked to the theme. The soundtrack can even determine the theme of your show. So, the idea is to find a theme that you can interpret, choreograph and, most importantly, personify. Have fun. Tell a story! What is the perfect interpretation of a theme or a piece of music? Virginie Dedieu's solo to "It’s oh so quiet" by Björk.

Reason N°2: for the jury and the audience 
The jury takes the music into consideration in the artistic score. Of course, it is not the only decisive factor. That would be too subjective! The judges assess the overall effect of the performance. But choosing a soundtrack that stands out and is consistent with your theme is a great way of influencing them, and of reaching the highest possible score. What's more, you should stir up the audience's enthusiasm. This will also boost your desire to really give it your best shot. An electric atmosphere around the pool can lead to success!

Reason N°3: for the rhythm and counting
Without any rhythm, there can be no team coordination or synchronisation of movement in artistic swimming. Therefore, the piece chosen must be easy to count to, up to six or eight, in twos or threes. Look for the right balance between a fast and a slower tempo. Ideally, the choreography and the music should be structured around these three steps: 
1- Start with a fast rhythm to create a "Wow effect".
2- Then calm down, to recover and get your breath back.
3- Then speed up again, to finish with a big bang and to show that you still have plenty of energy left!
Remember: for teams of children aged under 10, avoid overly fast tempos. For example, the theme of the Pink Panther is more suitable than the theme tune of The Simpsons.

Reason N°4: for the figures  
Find the melody, or melodies, that matches your movement and is in step with your vitality. For example, start off with figures that include hyper dynamic leg movements. Then, find the right moments for a twist or a cascade, and another one to perform a lift up into the air!

Reason N°5: to enjoy yourself! 
They very idea behind all sporting activities is to have fun! You will be more motivated to go to your training sessions if you know that you will have the chance to listen to some songs that you love.

Choosing your music for synchronised swimming

How to find the right music for artistic swimming?

Ultimately, anything goes! From musicals to classics and punchy pieces that are well known or totally unknown. Music from films or cartoons, or pieces composed specially for the occasion. There are a number of ways to go about finding your sound colour.

There are two possibilities to find the melody you are looking for. Either your theme has already been decided, such as a tango, for example. This will make things easier, because the scope of your search is more limited. Or, you start from scratch. In this case, your choice of music will determine your theme. For example, if you have opted for Offenbach's French cancan, then your theme will come quite naturally. Listen to lots of different types of pieces of music. Applications like Deezer and Spotify will be very helpful. 

Find inspiration

After turning all the musical platforms inside out, you still haven't found anything. A few tips on where to find inspiration.

- Listen to what other athletes choose, like ice skaters or gymnasts. Observe their themes and compositions. 
- Be on the lookout. Off on a shopping spree? Listen closely in the stores. You might find just what you are looking for in a store's playlist! Heard a heart-stopper? Whip out your smartphone and Shazam the music for all the details. The title, the artist, etc. 
- Switch on your TV and listen to the music in the adverts. They are usually perfectly suited to artistic swimming shows. Which is only normal, because they are written to be catchy! Original film soundtracks are also an ideal place to find inspiration.
- Check out the best synchronised swimming ballets on YouTube. The teams from Spain and Canada in particular set the highest standards in the incarnation and interpretation of their themes.
- Be original. Choose a piece that you would not spontaneously think of, and that may seem rather risqué for a synchronised swimming ballet. If you pull it off, then you will score a triumph:D For example, why not try a rock team ballet to Led Zeppelin!

How long should the music last in synchronised swimming?

Once you have made your choice, you need to determine the length. Everything depends on the type of event: a gala or a competition? A free or a technical routine? For your club's annual gala, you can do what you please! The length of your show will depend mainly on your stamina. 
In competitions, team ballets, combos, duets and solos are all different. The more swimmers there are, then longer the show will last: between 2 and 5 minutes in total, including the maximum of 10 seconds spent out of the water. You can allow a margin of about 15 seconds for these durations. For more details, refer to the official rules on the web site of the French swimming federation.
Remember that the broadcasting of music is subject to copyrights. In France, copyrights are collected by the SACEM. A handy tip: in competitions, send the name and the length of your pieces of music to the organisers, who will then declare them.

Lalie Chassaigne

Musical trends in synchronised swimming

About 15 years ago, musical theme tunes were popular in competitions. But today, international hits are all the rage. Songs in French are not as successful, probably because they are less well known and understood on the international stage. Electro-funk sounds are on the rise, as the speed of the movements increases. Original theme tunes, like Romeo and Juliet, are making way for Woodkid, David Guetta, Parov Stelar, Mark Ronson, Caravan Palace, etc. As well as creating an electric atmosphere around the pool, these tunes have also increased the discipline's media coverage.  But following the latest trend also incurs some risks. First, there is the fear of choosing the same piece as another club. Then, even if the music is all the rage when you create your choreography, it could well be truly out of fashion 9 months later, when the competition takes place. Finally, there is a danger of relying on the music too much. You know the public will love it, but there will be no surprises. You will have to make up for this with a choreography that is demanding and effective. One bad good idea is to choose Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Even if it has everything: the themes of dance and swimming and some beautiful music with plenty of variations. But Swan Lake has been used again and again in artistic swimming. 
Not to mention the mandatory white swimsuit… To be banned from the swimming pool! ;D

Lalie Chassaigne

How can you be sure that you have found 
the right closing music 
in artistic swimming?

Go through this check list before adopting the music and preparing a time-consuming composition.

For ballets and duets, ask the members of your team whether they like the piece as much as you do. It is important that every agrees with this decision, so that they are fully committed to the choreography. 

make sure that you will not quickly get tired of the music. Especially if it's a song that is currently in fashion. Will you still be able to stand listening to it after several months of intensive rehearsals? Think about your future well-being and avoid melodies that will end up by getting on your nerves!

Start off by dancing to the music at home, before even testing it and rehearsing in the pool. Make sure that you find the movements that form the perfect fit with the music.

Have you chosen music from an advert? Great. But always check that you can find the full-length version. The 30 seconds you hear on TV will not be enough for a 3-minute dance! 

Also, check that your music is acoustically well perceived by the audience. Play it live in the swimming pool to find out how it sounds. Very rhythmic numbers, like "Les tambours du Bronx", resonate a lot outside the pool. They may be unpleasant on the audience's ears.

Véronique Estrade

Véronique estrade 

Yin yoga, hiking, cycling,… (OK, on an electric bike sometimes ;-) ): I prefer slow sports. My goal is to combine well-being, escape and leisure. I also find all the artistic disciplines just marvellous. My 10 years of gym dancing probably explain this!  But feeling the enthusiasm of the passionate athletes I meet is what I like most. And then sharing their enthusiasm in the tutorials and tips I write here.