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Music for variation - question... and minor venting!


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Is my DD the only dancer with a knack for picking a variation to work on... that I am subsequently unable to find a decent music track/recording for? Typically, it’ll happen like this: teacher  asks students to pick a variation they’d like to work on, submit it for approval; DD goes on YouTube, finds some video of a variation she falls in love with; gets it approved; and then sets out looking for the music track... which we cannot find. Happens. All. The. Time.

Leaving aside the obvious, which we do check on meticulously - streaming service, YouTube, etc. - does anyone know of a good source for finding the music to a specific variation? Happy to buy it, that’s not the point - I just cannot find it!

Right now, for example, we’re looking for the Medora variation from Le Corsaire/act 3. There are multiple recordings of the ballet on the streaming service to which we subscribe - and yet, I cannot find the specific music I am looking for. I’ve even tried to Shazam some of the YouTube videos she used in her search to see if it would pick up something - but to no avail...


Any and all help much appreciated!


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Does she just need an mp3 for rehearsing? There are programs that allow you to turn the audio from a YouTube video into an mp3 file. I don’t know that it is strictly legal because the creator or performers of the music don’t get paid, but if you are just using it for rehearsal and not as a way to avoid paying for the music, I think it is relatively harmless to do it.

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Moderator Hat On:  Yes, ripping mp3s from Youtube is considered a "violation of their Terms of Service", and illegal.

From another standpoint, sound quality of such ripped music tends to be not that great, especially when played loud in a performance setting.  I have found in the past that it can be helpful to do research on what the actual section of music is called.  For example, every once in awhile, I get the urge to listen to this one SPECIFIC section of Romeo and Juliet.  I searched "capulet theme", "dramatic romeo and juliet music", and variations thereupon for like, two years, before I learned it's called Dance of the Knights.  Once I knew that, suddenly I was able to find really good versions.

I did a little digging, and found this on Amazon:  Le Corsaire - A Ballet in Three Acts.  It looks fairly complete; hopefully the music you're looking for is here!

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If you want a decent sound quality for classical music that will be amplified it is best to buy the CD. You will then have the full WAV (or other lossless format) audio file.  MP3 and streaming use compressed files which sound awful when amplified as they do not have the full electronic information.  By contrast lots of modern hit music is specifically designed for MP3.

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I agree that purchasing the whole ballet suite (when available) is usually the best way forward. We dancers often name variations with the ballet and act name, but they do not relate to the actual name of the piece of music which is usually more towards the type of music and time signature.  Buying the whole suite generally gives you a good shot as if it is a lesser known piece it will still be in there. I have found iTunes, and second hand stores often have full ballet suites!

It can also be worth checking some of the legitimate public domain sites such as 



As always, be wary downloading things from the internet but these are generally good sources of public domain recordings.

Best of luck!

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One thing to keep in mind is that if you are watching a video from a live performance, there may also be live music—so it may be true that the recording you’re looking for indeed does not exist.

Good luck!  I have been on similar hunts myself and it is not easy.

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I had the same problem for my dancer/skater.  She chose a piece from La Bayadere for a skating program.  The streaming sound was awful, I even found the CD copy that was out of print...still awful.  We learned to choose music differently and not get stuck on one particular piece.  I tried other recordings of the piece, but they just didn't have the same timing that worked for her program.  I ended up fiddling with it enough that over the rink sound system it was tolerable.

Now that I remember, in the before times, she and her ballet teacher were just starting to work on a variation to submit for a Summer program and it was the same issue.  We didn't get too far in before it all collapsed though.

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My daughter never performs except in school productions, so I had no idea it was so hard it is to find recordings of the music. The only reason I mentioned ripping an mp3 from YouTube was because my daughter sometimes practices variations from professional productions she sees on YouTube and someone suggested to me that it would be easier for her to listen to the music on AirPods than keep playing the YouTube video on a phone across the room. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Apologies to all who’ve responded for the radio silence - for some reason, I’d miss the notifications from the site... Coming back to all of the helpful commentary above:

- in the present instance, I’d be HAPPY to pay for the music if I COULD find it;

- the Corsaire recordings available on iTunes/Apple Music and other usual sources do NOT have that variation, even the whole recordings;

- as I understand it, Corsaire pieces together music from different composers - and so recordings of it make... choices. Sadly, those aren’t in favor of « our » variation;

- here it IS for rehearsal and so... we’ve found an acceptable solution. But I will concur with someone above to say - I will yet again insist, next time, that we explore recordings BEFORE my DD decides on a variation!


Have a good week everyone!



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How frustrating.  I agree for next time, music first! 😀

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You also have to be careful because the piece of music can actually vary from recording to recording. My DD and teacher used the music from a You tube video for rehearsal. We had to get a true recording to submit for YAGP so she found a good source for that. The only problem..... the timing of the music was different in one section. We realized the error and resubmitted the correct version but apparently we were too late.  They must have already uploaded the files before we sent the correct one, but we didn’t know that. So yep, there she was on stage, ad libbing some steps to wrong version of the music.... Such is the nature of live performing arts! 

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  • 2 years later...

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