Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Baroque Dance Music

Baroque Dance music?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 7, 2007):
I have a question that maybe the collective wisdom of the group can answer. So much of Bach's music (well really all of the baroque period) uses dance forms as the starting point for many pieces of music, this is true even in the cantatas, where many arias take on dance forms.

My question is: what DID people dance to exactly prior to 1750? We have lots of scores from Vienna and the classical period, massive sets of orchestral dances, but you rarely hear of this type of material from the baroque? Did it vanish? I often wonder why some automatically rule out the music from Bachs' orchestral suites wasn't performed in a real dancing situation ( and I don't mean ballet).

Also, given so much of baroque music was dance driven--do you think there was a lot of percussion instruments used in Bach's music (or the baroque in general), that simply wasn't notated or discussed (taken for granted). We have evidence of trumpet and timpani parts vanishing from scores, so it makes senses this could have happened with percussion instruments as well.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (March 7, 2007):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< My question is: what DID people dance to exactly prior to 1750? We have lots of scores from Vienna and the classical period, massive sets of orchestral dances, but you rarely hear of this type of material from the baroque? Did it vanish? I often wonder why some automatically rule out the music from Bachs' orchestral suites wasn't performed in a real dancing situation ( and I don't mean ballet). >
Well, there is still tons of secular instrumental and vocal-instrumental music from that period and earlier. I studied Renaissance and Baroque dance for two years while at music academy here in Poland, I don't recall there
being any lack of material. Nor for that matter do I recall any lack of material on the dance performances I saw here. Quite the contrary, the performance has to be thematically limited in some way, or the repertoire just gets too vast.

I think, however, that once we get to grouping dances into suites, that can be a signal that the music in question is 'art music' rather than 'popular dance music' (whether at court or out in the countryside, but nonetheless...), especially if it is scored for an unaccompanied solo instrument such as the violin. I would say, however, that the Bach partitas seem to me much more danceable if played on a lute or similar instrument, than on a violin. But even then, there just isn't enough 'noise' compared to what I'm used to hearing in the way of Baroque dance music.

< Also, given so much of baroque music was dance driven--do you think there was a lot of percussion instruments used in Bach's music (or the baroque in general), that simply wasn't notated or discussed (taken for granted). We have evidence of trumpet and timpani parts vanishing from scores, so it makes senses this could have happened with percussion instruments as well. >
This and what you mention above make great questions for my former dance teacher. I think I'll give her a call as soon as I am able and ask her about them. For that matter, maybe she'll want to join the list?

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2007):
Where to begin with such an abundance of opportunities?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I have a question that maybe the collective wisdom of the group can answer. So much of Bach's music (well really all of the baroque period) uses dance forms as the starting point for many pieces of music, this is true even in the cantatas, where many arias take on dance forms.
My question is: what DID people dance to exactly prior to 1750? >
The French probably claim a lot, but I maintain that triple-time dances are all derivatives of the Polonaise. Pretty clearly, from the absence of evidence, there were no original German dances.

< [...] Also, given so much of baroque music was dance driven--do you think there was a lot of percussion instruments >
You bet! Were you around for Jump-Up? Bring on the percussion choir.

< used in Bach's music (or the baroque in general), that simply wasn't notated or discussed (taken for granted). We have evidence of trumpet and timpani parts vanishing from scores, so it makes senses this could have happened with percussion instruments as well. >
Instrumentalists sight-read. The percussion choir improvises, as do the dancers. The missing stuff is always the best.

Just last night ... Never mind.

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 7, 2007):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< Quite the contrary, the performance has to be thematically limited in some way, or the repertoire just gets too vast. >
Did you shrink it to half-vast?

< This and what you mention above make great questions for my former dance teacher. I think I'll give her a call as soon as I am able and ask her about them. For that matter, maybe she'll want to join the list? >
This is not a joke. Please invite her. Female participation is especially welcome for the civilizing influence. Or something. I hate dancing with dudes.

 

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýMarch 7, 2007 ý20:31:19