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#2018613 - 01/21/13 08:30 PM Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to?
pianoloverus Offline
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Or were they just based on dance forms but not intended to be danced to?

I'm talking about the French and English Suites and the Partitas.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/21/13 08:32 PM)

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#2018663 - 01/21/13 10:11 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
BruceD Offline
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I have never heard - or read anywhere - that the French Suites, the English Suites or the Partitas are anything other than idealized or abstract music, not meant for dancing. While the various Baroque suites may well have evolved from Renaissance dance forms that were used to accompany dancing, I can't imagine the works mentioned serving such a purpose.

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#2018666 - 01/21/13 10:17 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Offline
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I agree with Bruce. I think they're very similar in this respect to the Chopin Mazurkas. The Bach could be danced to, but it would require a rhythmically constrained performance of the music. BTW I have played Chopin mazurkas for dance things, and had to rhythmically constrain them. smile

Something that I think is relevant to keep in mind for a question like this is the differences between playing on a piano and on a harpsichord. On a harpsichord, I think the expressiveness depends more on rhythmic flexibility, because of the lesser dynamic flexibility. (We often think of rhythmic flexibility as a Romantic thing, but IMO that's mistaken.) If this is so, then it means that in order to play the Bach for dancing in his day (and in Bach's mind), even more of the usual expressiveness would need to be omitted than would be obvious to us pianists.


I'm answering only from what I consider the internal evidence of the music, not from what Bach or anyone else at the time said about this, which I don't know. Using only this approach, I think it would be harder to answer the same question about some other types of pieces, like the Chopin Waltzes. I don't know if those were "meant" to be danced to, but I think they could be without nearly the same degree of complication.

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#2018774 - 01/22/13 03:30 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Posts: 958
Loc: UK
You could always search out a copy of Dance and the Music of J S Bach.

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#2018790 - 01/22/13 04:00 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
btb Offline
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Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The thought of dancing a Bach minuet to the crabby sound of an harpsichord (please note the educated “an” chaps) is more than this Cock Sparrow can stand.

Why not wait for later years ... and those jolly dance routines which Charles Dickens described so poignantly in his famous Pickwick Papers.

However, I prefer to sit on my backside
(bum in ghastly slang) and watch the TV cricket.

It's nice (positively grand) to be posh.


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#2018868 - 01/22/13 08:52 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3924
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I wondered the same thing for a while, PL'us, until I ran across a copy of this at the li-bree:

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
[...] Dance and the Music of J S Bach.


which said in the introduction pretty much what Bruce said, but with thicker diction.

Still can't find the "an" switch to my harpsichord, and so it remains "aff." Sorry, btb.

--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#2018906 - 01/22/13 10:02 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
Thracozaag Offline
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BruceD is absolutely correct, much akin to the Chopin Waltzes.
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#2018907 - 01/22/13 10:03 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13795
Loc: Iowa City, IA
If I could only own one book on baroque performance practice, it would be this one. Every serious pianist should have a copy. It's excellent.

Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
You could always search out a copy of Dance and the Music of J S Bach.
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#2018908 - 01/22/13 10:04 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
debrucey Offline
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It would be incorrect to use the 'educated an' before harpsichord anyway. It should only be used before words beginning with H when the first syllable is unstressed.


Edited by debrucey (01/22/13 10:05 AM)

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#2018923 - 01/22/13 10:28 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
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My question was prompted when I was thinking about some master classes last summer where Magdalena Baczewska was doing some demonstrations of the Sarabande for students who were playing some Bach. I guess it was just her way of making the students aware of what these dances looked like so they could have a better idea of how to interpret this music.

There is some Youtube series which shows each of the Baroque dances in great detail, but I forget it's name.

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#2018924 - 01/22/13 10:30 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: Thracozaag]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: Thracozaag
BruceD is absolutely correct, much akin to the Chopin Waltzes.
I've read that about the Chopin Waltzes but I've also read that Chopin liked to improvise at dances so I wonder if there is some conflict in these two ideas?

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#2018926 - 01/22/13 10:32 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
ando Online   content
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Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3599
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I can see it now, new reality show: So You Think You Can Sarabande...

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#2018943 - 01/22/13 11:05 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Thracozaag
BruceD is absolutely correct, much akin to the Chopin Waltzes.
I've read that about the Chopin Waltzes but I've also read that Chopin liked to improvise at dances so I wonder if there is some conflict in these two ideas?


Just a guess, but I believe there was definitely a divide between improvising at the dances and composing waltzes. He went to dances and improvised waltzes that were meant to be danced to, and he also composed his waltzes that we are familiar with, which were not really meant to be danced to.

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#2018978 - 01/22/13 11:59 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: debrucey]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 958
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: debrucey
It would be incorrect to use the 'educated an' before harpsichord anyway. It should only be used before words beginning with H when the first syllable is unstressed.
If you were in East End London 'an 'arpsichord' would be de rigueur.

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#2018983 - 01/22/13 12:06 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
carey Offline
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
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#2019011 - 01/22/13 12:51 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
Auntie Lynn Offline
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Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1108
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Herr Bach is probably the danciest of the major composers. All his stuff has been endlessly choreographed, probably the most famous being Mr B's Concerto Barocco; plus most of the Brandenburgs. His comps are all off-the-ground as we say in the biz. He is as fresh and interesting as he was centuries ago. Almost everything he wrote could be successfully choreographed. And yes, I have the book and yes, I play something of his every day...on the job. And all of my principals describe those crappy TV dance shows as "hideous..."

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#2019017 - 01/22/13 12:55 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: debrucey]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: debrucey
It would be incorrect to use the 'educated an' before harpsichord anyway. It should only be used before words beginning with H when the first syllable is unstressed.

Sounds absolutely right, and to me using the "an" where he did would be.....what to call it.....an affectation.
However, with btb's posts, I think we have to look at everything as a possible partial put-on, and I didn't think the "an" was any more of a possible put-on than 90% of the rest of what he says. ha

Plus....there's a fly in this ointment. smile

As I understand, there are some Brit dialects in which almost all initial h's are silent, and oddly also an initial vowel gets an h sound in front of it. Or maybe it's a caricature rather than an actual dialect, I'm not sure. Anyway the old joke goes:

"'Arrison!! I said my name's 'Arrison!!! A haitch, a hay, two har's, a hi, a hess, a ho, and a hen. 'Arrison!"

So....in that dialect, harpsichord would be pronounced 'arpsichord -- and it would get an "an." And if btb speaks that dialect (after all we don't know)....

Thank you very much. ha

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#2019019 - 01/22/13 01:00 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19796
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: debrucey
It would be incorrect to use the 'educated an' before harpsichord anyway. It should only be used before words beginning with H when the first syllable is unstressed.
If you were in East End London 'an 'arpsichord' would be de rigueur.

I guess that's what I meant too, it just took me a little longer to say. grin

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#2019136 - 01/22/13 03:53 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Rostosky Offline
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Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 3339
Loc: Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
If you were in East End London 'an 'arpsichord' would be de rigueur.


More likely to be "gas-lit maude" methinks.

Can anyone actually imagine Bach dancing? If he did he would be the classical equivalent of a break dancer....

OOOOh I say sir, have you seen mr.Bachs dance moves? His legs are moving in counterpoint to each other, quite difficult to master without the written choreography to hand.

a dance version of a fugue, Bach starts, legs akimbo, others join in later but by the time they get it , he is on to something more complex, left leg moving in twos, right leg flailing in threes.

Banned by the church as innapropriate for the ladies to observe on a sunday.
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#2019143 - 01/22/13 04:03 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13795
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think we may be oversimplifying things just a bit. While Bach's dances weren't necessarily meant as accompaniment for dance, that doesn't mean the dances are irrelevant. I think the character and sense of motion for the dances matters very much and should be captured in performance, and I think knowing something about the dances is very useful for the pianist.

Just as a knowledge of ballet is extremely useful for understanding Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. I think people grossly underestimate the influence of classical ballet on Prokofiev's piano sonatas, for example.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2019148 - 01/22/13 04:09 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: Auntie Lynn]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6368
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Auntie Lynn
Almost everything he wrote could be successfully choreographed. And yes, I have the book and yes, I play something of his every day...on the job. And all of my principals describe those crappy TV dance shows as "hideous..."


And, of course, they're correct !!!!! grin
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YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2019210 - 01/22/13 06:22 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
There's all sorts of brit dialects, I'm sure what you describe is among them somewhere lol.

I always find it amusing how americans pronounce herbs. You're french now are you? lol. Whatever makes you 'appy.

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#2019413 - 01/23/13 12:29 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Remember chaps that William the Conqueror knocked the crap out of the Saxons in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings ... and that Big Will the Konk was a French chappie ... and for 2 centuries the locals had to learn the “wee-wee” new tongue ... as a result the English language is loaded with French-isms like
dressage, barrage, garage and porrage (sorry that should be porridge (one up to the Scots!).

The story goes that the Conqueror’s cavalry mowed down the locals ... this tactic worked for many years thereafter, until “The Charge of the Light Brigade” when according to poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

And there endeth the history lesson.

PS This has nothing to do with JS Bach or the price of cheese.



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#2019441 - 01/23/13 03:37 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: Rostosky]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 958
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Rostosky

Can anyone actually imagine Bach dancing?
There wouldn't have been a court in Europe that didn't have it's French dance master - Bach would have been quite the adept. Jean-Marie Leclair, a contemporary of Bach, started out as the principal dancer and ballet master at Turin. Mozart was said to be good enough to have earned his living as a dance master. So break out those dancing pumps folks!

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#2019448 - 01/23/13 04:29 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
It takes a stretch of the imagination to see JS Bach doing a gig ... with 23 children he must have had his hands full helping Mrs Bach prepare enough grub to feed the brawling brood ... all that dizzy dance-master French-Connection stuff alluded to, could only have been on a possible wannabe list ... but knowing Bach I think he would have been happier at his keyboard
dashing out another masterpiece.

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#2019462 - 01/23/13 05:40 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 958
Loc: UK
Let's not forget we're talking about someone prone to sword fights in his youth. In his 30's he was imprisoned for a month for insubordination! Hardly the fuddy duddy.

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#2019493 - 01/23/13 08:00 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
What gobbledegook from the Englishman ...

“Let's not forget we're talking about someone prone to sword fights in his youth.
In his 30's he was imprisoned for a month for insubordination! Hardly the fuddy duddy.”

I was prone to sword fights in my youth ...
trying to imitate Errol Flynn as Robin Hood ...
at 10 years of age we used to dare each other to a midnight-duel on a local tomb ... we whistled quite a bit ... our swords were made of wood.

I still have the “The Adventures of Robbing Hood" movie ... complete with Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck and the rest of those Lincoln-green outlaws.

No one can say of what “insubordination”(JSBach) was guilty. (please note chaps that I didn’t finish off the foregoing sentence with a “preposition.” ... so many are prone to say guilty of.

With due deference ... anybody who calls me “fuddy-duddy” gets a glove in the face ... and a dawn invitation to draw pistols at twenty paces ...
anything more and I might need my glasses.

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#2019548 - 01/23/13 09:38 AM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Saying guilty of is fine.

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#2019657 - 01/23/13 01:14 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: pianoloverus]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
Remember diagramming sentences in English class? I believe that affectations such as "AN historic occasion" are an effort to make the article agree in number with the noun, eg "AN occasion (historic)." But we wouldn't say "AN concerto (harpsichord)," or "AN harpsichord concerto." We're in luck that "AN Easter oratorio" ducks the question. "A historic moment" would duck it... though why say that it's a moment, or an occasion, at all, when we already know it.

I think "it sounds wrong" is a good enough reason, but "dodging the bullet" is more widely admired. Being Enry Iggins is also a good enough reason... but who reads Shaw anymore.

On the other hand, "who" and "whom" serve grammatical functions which are actually useful, though most people seem to be ignorant of their proper use, and even like to brag about their ignorance.
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#2019712 - 01/23/13 03:17 PM Re: Were the Bach Dance Suites meant to be danced to? [Re: Jeff Clef]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18129
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Remember diagramming sentences in English class? I believe that affectations such as "AN historic occasion" are an effort to make the article agree in number with the noun, [...]


How does "a historic occasion" differ from "an historic occasion" with respect to number agreement with the noun?

It's a question of the (perceived) vowel quality of the "h" in historic, isn't it? Similarly, one would say : "a grand piano" but "an expensive piano;" the agreement remains singular between the indefinite article and the noun.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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