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Dance Movements in Bach’s Vocal Works

Dance Mvts.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 27, 2002):
Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne have a new expanded edition of their book, "Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach." I do not know these authors personally nor do I have a connection with the publishing firm.

From their new, expanded list of dance mvts. in the vocal works of Bach, I have put together a list of the mvts. that they have classified as being 'like' a particular dance form. If you want to read in detail about the criteria that they have used, you will need to buy the book. Because very often commentaries on the cantatas say that this or that movement is like this or that dance without having studied the dance forms carefully, there is a danger in treating a mvt. as a dance simply because it has a certain time signature. This can be very misleading. Some of the leading HIP interpreters of the cantatas, passions, oratorios, masses have attempted to make dance mvts. out of Bach's choral music even where such dance rhythms are not applicable. The result of this procedure is that heavy accents or very fast, lightly tripping rhythms are employed to 'spice up' the music, where the text shows that a more restrained musical interpretation would be more meaningful and appropriate.

The formatting will definitely be less than perfect, but perhaps the list will be usable nevertheless. [I have not double-checked the dates, some of which were listed with asterisks and questions marks in the book. The cantatas are listed differently here than in the book.]

BWV

Mvt.

Date

Dance Type

Sacr/Sec

1

1

1725

Giga II - like

Sacred

1

3

1725

Bourée-like

Sacred

1

5

1725

Minuet-like

Sacred

2

5

1724

Bourée-like

Sacred

6

1

1725

Sarabande-like

Sacred

6

2

1725

Minuet-like

Sacred

7

4

1724

Giga I - like

Sacred

8

4

1724

Giga II - like

Sacred

11

1

1735

Gavotte-like

Sacred

11

8

1735

Minuet-like

Sacred

19

5

1726

Loure-like

Sacred

21

10

1714

Passepied-like

Sacred

22

4

1723

Minuet-like

Sacred

25

5

1723

Minuet-like

Sacred

28

5

1725

Giga II - like

Sacred

29

3

1731

Bourée-like

Sacred

29

7

1731

Bourée-like

Sacred

30

1

1738-1742

Gavotte-like

Sacred

30

8

1738-1742

Bourée-like

Sacred

30

10

1738-1742

Giga I - like

Sacred

32

3

1726

Minuet-like

Sacred

32

5

1726

Gavotte-like

Sacred

35

5

1725

Bourée-like

Sacred

36

3

1725-1730

Minuet-like

Sacred

36

7

1725-1730

Giga II - like

Sacred

39

3

1726

Minuet-like

Sacred

43

3

1726

Giga II - like

Sacred

44

3

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

48

1

1723

Sarabande-like

Sacred

49

3

1726

Minuet-like

Sacred

57

3

1725

Sarabande-like

Sacred

62

2

1724

Passepied-like

Sacred

63

1

1732-1735

Giga II - like

Sacred

64

5

1723

Gavotte-like

Sacred

65

1

1724

Giga II - like

Sacred

65

6

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

68

2

1725

Bourée-like

Sacred

68

2

1725

Gavotte-like

Sacred

77

5

1723

Sarabande-like

Sacred

80

5

1727-1731

Giga II - like

Sacred

91

3

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

92

8

1725

Minuet-like

Sacred

93

3

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

94

3

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

94

6

1724

Giga II - like

Sacred

96

5

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

100

4

1732-1735

Bourée-like

Sacred

101

6

1724

Loure-like

Sacred

107

3

1724

Bourée-like

Sacred

107

7

1724

French Gigue-like

Sacred

110

1

1725

Giga I - like

Sacred

112

4

1731

Bourée-like

Sacred

122

1

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

122

4

1724

French Gigue-like

Sacred

123

1

1725

Giga I - like

Sacred

124

1

1725

Sarabande-like

Sacred

125

2

1725

Sarabande-like

Sacred

129

4

1726

Giga II - like

Sacred

130

5

1724

Gavotte-like

Sacred

132

1

1715

French Gigue-like

Sacred

134

6

1724

Giga II - like

Sacred

135

3

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

140

4

1731

Bourée-like

Sacred

140

6

1731

Bourée-like

Sacred

144

2

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

145

3

1729

Giga II - like

Sacred

149

4

1728-1729

Minuet-like

Sacred

150

7

1707

Ciaccona

Sacred

152

6

1714

Loure-like

Sacred

153

8

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

170

5

1726

Bourée-like

Sacred

173

4

1717

Minuet

Sacred

175

4

1725

Bourée-like

Sacred

176

3

1725

Gavotte-like

Sacred

180

2

1724

Bourée-like

Sacred

181

1

1724

Bourée-like

Sacred

182

4

1714

Gavotte-like

Sacred

182

8

1714

Giga II - like

Sacred

184

2

1724

Minuet-like

Sacred

184

6

1724

Gavotte-like

Sacred

185

1

1715

Loure-like

Sacred

186

10

1723

French Gigue-like

Sacred

192

3

1730

Giga I - like

Sacred

193

1

1727

Bourée-like

Sacred

193

3

1727

Minuet-like

Sacred

194

5

1723

Gavotte-like

Sacred

194

8

1723

Giga I - like

Sacred

194

10

1723

Minuet-like

Sacred

195

1

1727-1731

Giga II - like

Sacred

197

8

1736-1737

French Gigue-like

Sacred

199

8

1714

Giga I - like

Sacred

201

3

1729

Bourée-like

Secular

201

5

1729

Sarabande-like

Secular

101

7

1729

Giga II - like

Secular

201

15

1729

Gavotte-like

Secular

202

7

1730

Giga II - like

Secular

202

4

1726-1727

Minuet-like

Secular

205

11

1725

Giga II - like

Secular

206

11

1736

Giga I - like

Secular

207

1

1726

Giga II - like

Secular

208

14

1713-1716

French Gigue-like

Secular

208

15

1713-1716

Giga II - like

Secular

210

2

1738-1746

Minuet-like

Secular

210

6

1738-1746

Sarabande-like

Secular

211

4

1734

Minuet-like

Secular

211

8

1734

French Gigue-like

Secular

212

2

1742

Bourée-like

Secular

212

6

1742

Giga II - like

Secular

212

8

1742

Sarabande-like

Secular

212

14

1742

Minuet-like

Secular

212

20

1742

Giga II - like

Secular

212

24

1742

Bourée-like

Secular

213

1

1733

Minuet-like

Secular

213

13

1733

Gavotte-like

Secular

214

5

1733

Minuet-like

Secular

214

9

1733

Giga II - like

Secular

215

1

1734

Giga II - like

Secular

215

7

1734

Bourée-like

Secular

226

1

1729

Giga II - like

Sacred

232

4

1743-1746

Giga II - like

Sacred

238

1

1723

Giga II - like

Sacred

243

2

1723

Minuet-like

 

244

68

1727

Sarabande-like

Sacred

245

13

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

245

39

1724

Sarabande-like

Sacred

248

15

1734

Minuet-like

Sacred

248

26

1735

Minuet-like

Sacred

248

47

1735

Bourée-like

Sacred

248

62

1735

Bourée-like

Sacred

248

64

1735

Bourée-like

Sacred

249

1

1725-1738

Giga II - like

Sacred

249

3

1725-1738

Giga II - like

Sacred

249

5

1725

Sarabande-like

Sacred

249

11

1725-1738

Giga II - like

Sacred

minuet or sarabande?

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 124 - Discussions Part 2

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<< I'm loathe to correct Dürr, but doesn't this chorus have the form of a sarabande not a minuet? >>
Chris Rowson wrote:
< I agree, I feel it as sarabande rhythm. I canīt define exactly what makes me say this, but maybe itīs a “1 ? 2 ? (rest) 1 ? 2 ? (rest)” pattern, where are minuet has a different pattern, or one of many different ones in fact, but never that sarabande step. >
I am completely at a loss to see how one feels this as a sarabande rather than as a minuet. It depends a bit on the tempo and interpretation I suppose but the rhythmic structure and 'bounce' seem to have much more of a feel of the more courtly minuet than the (usually slower and dignified despite its origins) sarabande.

If in doubt, compare this to the opening chorus of BWV 6 which has clearly a sarabande quality. The difference in 'feel' is almost physical.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 4, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I am completely at a loss to see how one feels this as a sarabande rather than as a minuet. It depends a bit on the tempo and interpretation I suppose but the rhythmic structure and 'bounce' seem to have much more of a feel of the more courtly minuet than the (usually slower and dignified despite its origins) sarabande. >
The hemiola effect of the dotted second note can be seen in such well-known sarabandes as the Aria of the Goldberg Variations and Handel's famous D minor sarabande with variations.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
[To Douglas Cowling] True, and the emphasis on the second beat of the bar is a characteristic of some (but not all) sarabandes. Additionally it is only one of many musical features of this piece including 3 clear crotchets in the bass, rolling semiquavers etc.and consequently it might seem to be insufficient evidence upon which to base a conclusion about the structure of the whole work. Also the later entries on the second beat of the bar (referred to elsewhere)are, musically speaking, upbeats to the phrases rather than accentuations of the second beats of these bars and do not support the 'sarabande' hypothesthis.

There is further circumstantial but not insignificant evidence relating to the sorts of texts which Bach used to set 'courtly' dances such as the minuet and, particularly the gavotte which I haven't time to expound upon here. But let's get back to the subjective, but not insignificent matter of musical 'feel'.

As I suggested before -----of this chorus and that of BWV 6, which 'feels'like a minuet and which a sarabande? And why?

Chris Rowson wrote (February 4, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
". As I suggested before -----of this chorus and that of BWV 6, which 'feels' like a minuet and which a sarabande? And why?"
BWV 124/1 feels like a sarabande to me, because it reminds me of watching my wife dance one in a historical dance group, as well as recalling the same pieces Doug Cowling mentioned. I perceive 6/1 as maybe having a bit of a sarabande feeling but not being clearly in dance rhythm.

By the way, I wouldnīt call the rhythm of BWV 124/1 a hemiola: my understanding of that term is that itīs when two triple time bars taken together have their emphasis on 1, 3 and 5 (of the 6) instead of the usual 1 and 4. (In fact I would call the rhythm of BWV 124/1 a sarabande rhythm.)

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< BWV 124/1 feels like a sarabande to me, because it reminds me of watching my wife dance one in a historical dance group, as well as recalling the same pieces Doug Cowling mentioned. I perceive 6/1 as maybe having a bit of a sarabande feeling but not being clearly in dance rhythm. >
Well Chris, the personal element of seeing your wife dancing I cannot comment upon! But has you wife also danced a minuet?

I have just looked through the minuets and sarabandes of the French and English suites again and I find that some sarabandes, particularly of the latter set, have a very minimal 'dance feel' about them compared to the minuets. And sarabandes are generally somewhat slower and more ponderous than the opening chorus under discussion which is lighter and generally more 'tripping' in character than any sarabande of the period I know.

Another reason is the Bach's association of the idea of returning to heaven, Jesus and the hand of God with the more 'courtly' dances such as the gavotte and minuet---but not with the sarabande. As I said before, circumstantial but possibly a factor.

But as I asked earlier how many list members hear BWV 124 as a sarabande and BWV 6 as a minuet--or vice versa? or both as one or the other?

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 4, 2007):
Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne in their book, "Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach" expanded edition, Indiana University Press, 2001, p. 248 explain BWV 124/1 as sarabande-like:

"The text of "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht"...states that the believer will never leave Jesus, and is, in fact, duty-bound to his Savior. This stately chorus with horn, oboe d'amore concertante, strings, and continuo features two sarabande elements: the regular phrases which embody the sarabande syncope and regal dotted rhythms in the orchestra, and the luxuriant ornamentation, so characteristic of sarabandes, which Bach gives to the oboe d'amore. The style is that of a concerto grosso, with distinctive musical material for the opposing forces of chorus, strings, oboe d'amore, and horn."

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 4, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< But as I asked earlier how many list members hear BWV 124 as a sarabande and BWV 6 as a minuet--or vice versa? or both as one or the other? >
I think you are in pretty rarefied territory here, as to how many list members can offer an informed opinion on the distinction. I cannot, but you should not interpret my silence as lack of interest. Just the opposite. I find this a very worthwhile discussion. I am glad I incited it, even if only by accident (citing Dürr). Some of the best stuff on BCML, when we are encouraged to do some listening and form an opinion.

When I have an opinion, you will know it! You have probably figured that out on your own.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< This stately chorus with horn, oboe d'amore concertante, strings, and continuo features two sarabande elements: the regular phrases which embody the sarabande syncope and regal dotted rhythms in the orchestra, and the luxuriant ornamentation, so characteristic of sarabandes, which Bach gives to the oboe d'amore. >
Thanks for this quotation but I do challenge it.

For one thing it suggests 2 elements then offers 3!

Additional thoughts Regular phrases are not indicative of sarabandes--they occur, and in Bach, in so many suite movement structures.

Regal dotted rhythms are also simply not indicative--look at the French overtures for example, which are NOT sarabandes, as well as the various sarabandes which lack them almost entirely e.g. Eb French suite.

Luxuriant ornamentation yes--- sometimes (why? because they are slow movements) But the semiquavers in BWV 124 are more a development than an ornamentation. These two terms overlap to a degree but have quite different fundamental meanings.

Chris Rowson wrote (February 4, 2007):
JM: Well Chris, the personal element of seeing your wife dancing I cannot comment upon! But has you wife also danced a minuet?

Me: Iīve played for her dancing minuets, and very educational it is too, if you let the dancers tell you what they want.

JM: I have just looked through the minuets and sarabandes of the French and English suites again and I find that some sarabandes, particularly of the latter set, have a very minimal 'dance feel' about them compared to the minuets. And sarabandes are generally somewhat slower and more ponderous than the opening chorus under discussion which is lighter and generally more 'tripping' in character than any sarabande of the period I know.

Me: What is slow and ponderous depends a lot on how you play it/hear it. I would actually take 124/1 at what most people would probably call a slow and ponderous pace (though maybe a bit faster than what Quantz prescribes for a sarabande).

Is "tripping" appropriate for this text? I would have thought something more solid and certain.

But in any case, please watch out for the usual idea of "tripping" minuets. Musicians mostly play minuets at a speed that makes dancers fall over, or stop dancing. It takes a lot of discipline to play them in the dance pace.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
Chris Rowson wrote:
< But in any case, please watch out for the usual idea of “tripping" minuets. Musicians mostly play minuets at a speed that makes dancers fall over, or stop dancing. It takes a lot of discipline to play them in the dance pace. >
Agreed, tempo is only one cosideration albeit an important one. Phrasing, style and accentuation are equally important. But then the Bach suite movements were structural and rhythmic forms and not written to dance to so one has to question the significance of a tempo's appropriateness (or not) for the hoofers.

I don't think that arguments about what may have been appropriate for dancers help us in this particular case.

Alain Bruguières wrote (February 4, 2007):
Not being able to provide a musicologically informed answer, I can only rely on the 'feel' of those two pieces as compared to other pieces by Bach which are identified as menuets or sarabandes.

My impression is that BWV 6/1 sounds like a saraband, of all dances, whereas BWV 124/1 sounds like a lighter dance such as a menuet. Besides, BWV 124/1 sounds more definitely dance-like to me than 6/1. The sarabandhood I percieve in BWV 6/1 is a matter of mood rather than specifically rythm, I think. I suspect there are clearer examples of 'sarabands' in the opening choruses, but right now I can't suggest any.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 4, 2007):
Alain Bruguieres wrote
< The sarabandhood I percieve in BWV/6 is a matter of mood rather than specifically rythm, I think. I suspect there are clearer examples of 'sarabands' in the opening choruses, but right now I can't suggest any. >
Alain regarding your first sentence (above) I would suggest that it is a combination of both.

Turning to your second sentence there are a number of opening choruses in triple time (excluding compound time which doesn't apply). e.g. BWV 9, BWV 95 and BWV 98. Even the famous BWV 140 is in 3/4 time.

But not so many of these suggest a suite rhythm as specifically as BWV 124 a minuet or 6 a sarabande (I would suggest). They may not, in fact, suggest anything at all to do with the suite.

In other words I am putting forward the view that a particular time signature may or may not suggest a particular suite movement structure or feeling. There is a lot more to it than that. Some of it is very subjective (the 'feel' based upon familiarity with these works) and some more objective (e.g. groupings of describable technical characteristics, perhaps not just settling upon one in order to try to prove a point).

ergo--just as some 3/4 movements may suggest a minuet, sarabande or polonaise---others may not-----similarly, a 4/4 movement may suggest a bourree---or it may not.

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 4, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>In other words I am putting forward the view that a particular time signature may or may not suggest a particular suite movement structure or feeling. There is a lot more to it than that. Some of it is very subjective (the 'feel' based upon familiarity with these works) and some more objective (e.g. groupings of describable technical characteristics, perhaps not just settling upon one in order to try to prove a point).
ergo--just as some 3/4 movements may suggest a minuet, sarabande or polonaise---others may not----similarly, a 4/4 movement may suggest a bourree--or it may not.<<
I do not want to look up the reference right now, but I have previously shared with this group Mattheson's description of the 3 categories for purposes of distinguishing the stylistic characteristics (mood, manner, tempo, etc.) that determine how dance music is properly performed in the 3 'Styli': Church (sacred), Court (chamber), Opera (theater). Of all 3 categories, 'Church', which concerns us here, is the slowest in tempo and its mood is generally serious (even in expressing joy). Mattheson points out specifically that a dance which is danced to by individuals executing the steps of a dance must not be the gauge by which the tempo is determined either in chamber or church music. Even chamber and church music are treated differently from each other in performance (obviously with church music being the slowest and gravest of all three categories).

The book by Little and Jenne has identified all actual 'sarabandes' that Bach composed, but then, in its expanded edition, has attempted to include the quasi-sarabandes or the sarabande-like compositions as well.

Their checklist of sarabande characteristics includes:

1. Triple meter (3/4)
2. Serious affect: noble, majestic, yet passionate
3. Slow tempo
4. Balanced 4 + 4 phrase structure; extensions rare
5. Characteristic rhythmic patterns (they have identified 7 different patterns, one of which has a hemiola figure)
6. Complex harmonies
7. Soloistic

"The balanced phrases, serious affect, and soloistic nature of Bach's titled sarabandes appear clearly in many of Bach's cantata arias and choruses....All of the pieces discussed here are notated under the 3/4 meter sign with 3 quarter-note beats per measure, except BWV 853 in 3/2, and BWV 210/5 in 3/8."

BWV 652 "Komm, heiliger Geist"
BWV 653 "An Wasserflüssen Babylon"
BWV 654 "Schmücke dich o liebe Seele
BWV 768 Variation 10 of "Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig"
BWV 829
BWV 853 WTC1 no.8 in E-flat minor in 3/2 meter
BWV 988/1
BWV 1079/8

BWV 6/1
BWV 44/3
BWV 48/1
BWV 57/3
BWV 75/3
BWV 77/5
BWV 91/3
BWV 96/5
BWV 124/1
BWV 125/2
BWV 135/3
BWV 201/5
BWV 210/8
BWV 212/8
BWV 244/78 "Wir setzen uns"
BWV 245/19 "Ach mein Sinn"
BWV 245/67 "Ruht wohl"

The authors explain that some of the above have only a more remote connection to the sarabande.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 4, 2007):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< BWV 244/78 "Wir setzen uns"
BWV 245/19 "Ach mein Sinn"
BWV 245/67 "Ruht wohl"
The authors explain that some of the above have only a more remote connection to the sarabande. >
That's for sure! I'd love someone to tell me how 'Wir Setzen Uns" qualifies as a sarabande. A minuet perhaps but a sarabande?!

Thomas Braatz wrote (February 5, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>That's for sure! I'd love someone to tell me how 'Wir Setzen Uns" qualifies as a sarabande. A minuet perhaps but a sarabande?!<<
Let's have Little & Jenne from the aforementioned book tell you:

pp. 241-242

"Bach chose sarabande affect and dance rhythms to bring to a serene close the long, intense, and often violent St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244/78 (1736), "Wir setzen uns" (Ex. XIV-43)[1st 4 measures are quoted]. One easily recalls the sarabandes from two English suites, BWV 806 and BWV 810 (c. 1715) as well as from the French suite BWV 812 (1722). The serenity derives from a perfectly balanced AABB dance form in mostly 12-measure units, rendered by double chorus and orchestra."

Stephen Benson wrote (February 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< But as I asked earlier how many list members hear BWV 124 as a sarabande and BWV 6 as a minuet--or vice versa? or both as one or the other? >>
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I think you are in pretty rarefied territory here, as to how many list members can offer an informed opinion on the distinction. I cannot, but you should not interpret my silence as lack of interest. Just the opposite. I find this a very worthwhile discussion. >
For what it's worth, and with my limited knowledge of the various dance forms, I hear BWV 124/1 as more "minuet-like" and BWV 6/1 as more "sarabande-like", but what do I know? With all the discussion re. minuet vs. sarabande in 1, what I DO hear in this cantata is an unusual, for Bach, emphasis on rhythmic variation in general, particularly in the opening chorus and in the tenor aria. The rhythmic phraseology in both movements utilizes distinctive rhythmic groupings followed by rests. I only have the Leusink performance for reference, but it strikes me that the rhythmic variations in these movements sets this apart from other cantatas. Are there other cantatas with such distinctive rhythmic structures playing off each other?

Also, for what it's worth, I was relieved to hear a tenor other than van der Meel, who sets my teeth on edge, singing in Leusink's BWV 124. Knut Schoch, to my ears, is a BIG improvement!

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2007):
Stephen Benson wrote:
< I only have the Leusink performance for reference, but it strikes me that the rhythmic variations in these movements sets this apart from other cantatas. [...]
Also, for what it's worth, I was relieved to hear a tenor other than van der Meel, who sets my teeth on edge, singing in Leusink's
BWV 124. Knut Schoch, to my ears, is a BIG improvement! >
I have only listened to Leusink once, while writing the introduction, but he overall impression was excellent. I was especially impressed with Buwalda, in the S/A duet, BWV 124/mvt. 5. I think I noticed others who wee not so impressed with Leusink, and so I had planned to listen bit more carefully before writing. But since you bring it up, even in the midst of football, I look for every opportunity to say something good about the oft maligned Buwalda.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< But as I asked earlier how many list members hear BWV 124 as a sarabande and 6 as a minuet--or vice versa? or both as one or the other? >
BWV 124/1 has a confident, even bright, cheerful mood, with recognisable dance elements eg, dotted rhythm parts and detached crotchets in the continuo (in 3/4 time).

BWV 6/1 has a yearning quality ("Stay with us") set in phrases with a flowing sweep.

Beyond that, I'm not confident of applying the respective designations. I prefer minuet for 124/1 and sarabande for BWV 6/1, but others see sarabande characteristics in BWV 124/1. I doubt that a conductor's performance depends on one or other designation, since perceptions of dance forms differ even amongst experts (eg Dürr and Little and Jenne).

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< As I suggested before -----of this chorus [BWV 124] and that of BWV 6, which 'feels'like a minuet and which a sarabande? And why? >
Julian has lobbed us a marshmallow (ACE): a question with no wrong answers, as to how the music 'feels' to us. So with characteristic folly, I will rush in where angels fear to tread, despite my complete lack of expertise.

I have listened only to recordings from the Brilliant Classics complete Bach Edition. First the why. I listened to Orchestral Suite No. 2, BWV 1067, for models, which contains a Sarabande, Menuet, and as luck would have it, a Polonaise which I could not resist, for sentimental reasons. All labeled as such by Bach (I believe).

Surprise, surprise! I 'feel' that BWV 124/1 sounds most like the Polonaise, which if I understand correctly from a full 5 minutes of research, is characterized by a couple semiquavers on the second half beat. I hear this in the oboe trills of BWV 124.. In addition, the tempos are very close, although this probably has everything to do with the performers (Leusink for the cantata, and Consort of London for the suite) and little to do with Bach. I agree with neil's description of the dynamics.

BWV 6/1 sounds to me, from a single hearing, like it is in two sections, both stately, but the first noticeably slower than the second. So it is hard to give them a single designation. How about the first a Sarabande and the second a Menuet? Which conveniently uses all the data.

Like Neil, I have no confidence or expertise in using these designations. The best expertise I have seen submitted is Chris Rowson talking about dancing them. Whether or not BAch wrote the music for dancing, it was his choice to use dance titles. Maybe a physical dance is not the perfect solution, but what is better?

Thanks, Julian, this was a lot more entertaining than the football Super Bowl I just half-heartedly watched.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 5, 2007):
Possibly a 'round off' to this particular thread?

One question which occured to me was 'does it matter?' And quite probably, for the majority of music loveres, it doesn't.

But then I thought, as a musician it might matter a great deal. If one was preparing to direct a performance of this opening chorus one would (after looking to see what clues Bach may have left, if any) be seeking technical ways of ensuring a convincing performance that 'feels right'. And one might very well bring to bear a knowledge and experience of other 3/4 movements of the period (such as these two and the polonaise) which all bring their own connotations, implications and baggage with them.

To give an example, look at the first five bass notes of the opening fantasia---all simple crotchets. Now if I were thinking 'minuet' rather than 'sarabande' I would probably want them to be played more lightly, a little shorter and quite possibly with a different phrasing. In other words one might very well adapt tempo, dynamics, tone and the relationship of each note to those that surround it in order to achieve the musical effect one wants. Nor are these decisions insignificant because a) much of the bass line is simple crotchets throughout the movement and b) the decisions as to how to articulate these notes will greatly influence the overall expressive character of the piece from the very opening bars.

Additionally, the non practising music lover, although s/he might not be aware of the technical decisions which have been made, will certainly react to the particular spirit of the interpretation which results.

There are, incidentally, dozens of different ways in which five such consecutive notes may be performed and the ultimate choices will be made according to the personality, instinct, experience, knowledge and skill of the performer------who just might be thinking ' I want the feel of a large scale minuet (or sarabande) to come across here'.

Hope this makes some sense!

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< There are, incidentally, dozens of different ways in which five such consecutive notes may be performed >
That's true, Julian, but Bach does give an indication of what he has in mind, with the term "staccato" appearing over the continuo and upper string staves at the start of the score (BGA).

{Obviously this term is meant to apply only where appropriate; certainly not to the 1st violin in bar 1 which has a trill on the 2nd and 3rd beat).

Julian Mincham wrote (February 5, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< That's true, Julian, but Bach does give an indication of what he has in mind, with the term "staccato" appearing over the continuo and upper string staves at the start of the score (BGA). >
Neil, yes a good point which a musician is bound to take good note of. Furthermore, I think strengthens rather than weakens a 'minuet' rather than a 'sarabande' feel to the piece.

PS How's the weather on that side of the world--still droughts??

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 5, 2007):
(BWV 124/1):
<< Bach does give an indication of what he has in mind, with the term "staccato" appearing over the continuo and upper string staves at the start of the score (BGA). >>
< Neil, yes a good point which a musician is bound to take good note of.Furthermore, I think strengthens rather than weakens a 'minuet' rather than a 'sarabande' feel to the piece. >
Or makes it seem even more like a polonaise: for example, the one in the B minor suite 1067. Staccato there too, plus (after it gets going) a similar harmonic rhythm to that in the 124/1, changing harmony on every bass note.

If we have to force BWV 124/1 to "be" any of these three (sarabande, minuet, or polonaise) I'd say it's probably closest to minuet. But, that doesn't adequately explain the dotted motion in the bass line (bar 20ff), either. It's sort of like "Konnen Thranen" #52 in the St Matthew: 3/4 with detached bass and lots of this dotted stuff.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 5, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< If we have to force BWV 124/1 to "be" any of these three (sarabande, minuet, or polonaise) I'd say it's probably closest to minuet. But, that doesn't adequately explain the dotted motion in the bass line (bar 20ff), either. >
I wouldn't want to 'force' it into any one mould--a procedure doomed to failure when considering Bach almost more than any other composer. His bringing together elements of established musical structural principles in order to create a whole new movement 'shape' is something which continues to amaze those of us who study his scores in detail.

A couple of other points arising from Brad's para above 1 it is the case that Bach does not usually associated dotted rhythms with minuets---much more likely to be flowing quavers.

2 The choral lines of this first movement alalmost totally dispense with the dotted rhythms--with the exception of the basses for the third line of text.

3 Might it be that Bach introduced the dotted idea as a sort of underlining or italics in order to give some further significance to certain text ideas? It does seem that he uses it in the instrumental ensemble at times when sinificant ideas are expressed e.g. (not) leaving Jesus, duty calling etc.

So a courtly basis for the overall movement but with the dotted rhythms (and flowing semiquavers) carefully placed so as to give emphasis to certain significant ideas???

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< One question which occured to me was 'does it matter?' And quite probably, for the majority of music loveres, it doesn't.
But then I thought, as a musician it might matter a great deal. Hope this makes some sense! >>
> >
Alain Bruguières wrote:
< It doeth to me. Although I'm a mere music lovere (I suspect Middle English rather than ACE here), I still appreciate this kind of discussion. >
As do most of us?

< I particularly enjoy reading Julian and Neil's courteous exchanges. I often feel like agreeing with both! >
Are you trying to say mine are not courteous (by omission)? I hope not.

< Since I'm very sensitive to the dance-like quality of much of Bach's production, I can easily believe that for a performer, deciding that a particular movement is suggestive of a minuet, a sarabande, or a polka >
Careful, here. Polka and Polonaise are not the same! I know it is confusing, but I did not make the rules. What? There are no rules? Never mind.

< PS A prominent list member has repeatedly claimed that AE (with or without intervening C) is the official language of the list. >
My understanding is that the official language of BCML is American English. I speak it well, by my standards, but my spouse frequently says things to me like "What the xxxx do you mean by that!'. What can I say?

< As far as I'm concerned, this is OK since I consider myself perfectly fluent in Approximative Continental English. However, certain varieties of Commonwealth English, illustrated by the contribution of other esteemed list members, are also in a position to lay claim to being the BCML official language. Quid est veritas? (ACE: Buck est veritas?) >
Buck est veritas, indeed! Getting deep here. Throughout history , many currencies have gone from top to bottom, because of ill-conceived overseas adventures. It would require an historian to list them. I hope the current Buck is not not the next. Long live the Quid!

Xavier R. wrote (February 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I am completely at a loss to see how one feels this as a sarabande rather than as a minuet. It depends a bit on the tempo and interpretation I suppose but the rhythmic structure and 'bounce' seem to have much more of a feel of the more courtly minuet than the (usually slower and dignified despite its origins) sarabande.
If in doubt, compare this to the opening chorus of
BWV 6 which has clearly a sarabande quality. The difference in 'feel' is almost physical. >
I am with you on that, Julian. For me a Sarabande has to be slow and this movement is moderate. The term wouldn't come to my mind naturally to qualify it.

Nor would Minuetto, I might add. In fact, even if BWV 6 is closer to what a Sarabande is, I would find very reductive to label it that way. I am of course willing to acknowledge that it uses some elements of Sarabande, among many other characteristics.

Bach uses the repertory of musical forms with a supreme freedom, borrowing here and there and most often he manufactures a UMO (Unknown Musical Object) that is unique and original. Let's take his only orchestral "designated" Sarabande, in the 2nd Suite. It is one, undoubtedly, but it is also a composition prowess since the bass line is in perfect canon with the first violin's all the way through. Certainly unusual and unexpected in a dance suite universe!

It has been often said that Bach transcends his time's genres and categories. This kind of affirmation can be regarded as too general or reverent but it's actually vertiginous how much, when you get down into the details of the notes, you can prove it at almost every bar.

Back to BWV 124, I wouldn't go further than saying "it has a dancing character" or "it evokes a dance". The very existence of the debate and its length, with valid points and documentation on every side, proves amply that Bach did not mean to define that character with too much precision.

Russell Telfer wrote (February 6, 2007):
Julian Mincham wrote:
<< I am completely at a loss to see how one feels this as a sarabande rather than as a minuet. It depends a bit on the tempo and interpretation I suppose but the rhythmic structure and 'bounce' seem to have much more of a feel of the more courtly minuet than the (usually slower and dignified despite its origins) sarabande. >>
To which Xavier replied (among other points)
< Bach uses the repertory of musical forms with a supreme freedom, borrowing here and there and most often he manufactures a UMO (Unknown Musical Object) that is unique and original. >
I have changed my opinion on this issue - if I had one in the first place. A good debate should be capable of changing people's minds. Polonaise has been mentioned (by Ed, I think) as well as sarabande and minuet, but I think Xavier's remark gets close to the truth: If Bach (or any composer) chose to write a movement which wasn't quite This or That but something in between, it could easily be done. With Bach's command of musical form I believe he could do anything of this nature.

The issue may not matter in the overall scheme of things but having this discussion must heighten our sensitivities somewhat by making us more aware of the minutiae of the musical experience.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 6, 2007):
< I am with you on that, Julian. For me a Sarabande has to be slow and this movement is moderate. The term wouldn't come to my mind naturally to qualify it. >
Just for clarity: some sarabandes from the 17th C (Buxtehude, Bohm, Reincken, Froberger, etc) and at least as late as the mid-18th (or beyond) weren't necessarily slow. Some slow, some moderate, some fast and lascivious.

Want a feisty and fast one, full of wild runs and leaps? Forqueray's "La Portugaise", published 1747. Have a listen to it, track 5 here (viol version):
http://www.amazon.fr/Forqueray-Pièces-viole-clavecin-Splendeurs/dp/B0001HQ2WC
Amazon.com
And the harpsichord version, where it's especially energetic:
http://www.amazon.fr/Suites-clavecin-Nos-Antoine-Forqueray/dp/B00000148A

Some of Bach's are spiky and loaded with dotted rhythms, making them rather snappy. Others of his are smoothly flowing, or de-emphasize the classic accent of the second beat. Another of his (in BWV 827: A minor Partita, also in Anna Magdalena's book), is almost more a polonaise than a sarabande.

Point is: sarabandes are all over the map, both in tempo and character.

Julian Mincham wrote (February 6, 2007):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< If Bach (or any composer) chose to write a movement which wasn't quite This or That but something in between, it could easily be done. With Bach's command of musical form I believe he could do anything of this nature. >
Absolutely I don't think I said that it IS a minuet---I think i argued that it had the 'feel' or 'quality' of a minuet rather than that of a sarabande---which is quite a different thing.

The last movement of Brandenburg 6 has the 'feel' of a gigue---but I would not call it that. It is a wonderfully original composite of three different formal structures, ritornello, rondo andternary.It has clear characteristics of
all three formal principles.

But it still has the feeling of a gigue!

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 6, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Some of Bach's are spiky and loaded with dotted rhythms, making them rather snappy. Others of his are smoothly flowing, or de-emphasize the classic accent of the second beat. Another of his (in BWV 827: A minor Partita, also in Anna Magdalena's book), is almost more a polonaise than a sarabande.
Point is: sarabandes are all over the map, both in tempo and character. >

One of the reasons I assumed from first hearing that it was a sarabande is that the first seven bars have no sustained 16th note figuration. Even a very quick tempo has to take into account that in bar 8, the concertante-like 16th notes take off. Thus, there is an inherent gravitas is built into the opening theme which I associate with the sarabande.

The same thing may be happening at the beginning of Cantata BWV 78, "Jesu Der Du Meine Seele" which has a similar sarabande-like theme with a dotted second beat. The opening bars must be played at a very moderate tempo or the subsequent passagework is technically impossible.

As Brad rightly points out, dance forms are transformed in Bach's hands and could not be actually danced. It's like assuming real shepherds actually play like the "Pastoral Symphony" in the Christmas Oratorio.

Xavier R. wrote (February 6, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< Some of Bach's are spiky and loaded with dotted rhythms, making them rather snappy. Others of his are smoothly flowing, or de-emphasize the classic accent of the second beat. Another of his (in BWV 827: A minor Partita, also in Anna Magdalena's book), is almost more a polonaise than a sarabande.
Point is: sarabandes are all over the map, both in tempo and character. >

Point taken Brad, I am no musicologist and my memories of Forqueray, Buxtehude, Froberger and others are really far away... I was referring mainly to Bach's Sarabandes (or other XVIIIth century composers like Händel).

But you should have said "A few of Bach's" because all the one I can think of (Partitas for violin solo, cello solo, harpsichord) are slow, often meditative or at least sedate. As for the dotted rhythm, it has nothing to do with the tempo, you can have an extremely slow movement full of dotted rhythms (like the "Grave" of an French overture)

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 6, 2007):
< As for the dotted rhythm, it has nothing to do with the tempo, you can have an extremely slow movement full of dotted rhythms (like the "Grave" of an French overture) >
But those ouvertures by Bach aren't marked "Grave" either; or marked at all. The only one of the four that has a similar word there is #2 (B minor), and it's "Lentement", only at the point after the fugal section where it switches from cut-C into a 3/4 (so the notes here start going approximately half as fast, but not necessarily slower yet than that). Not marked "Lentement" or "Grave" or anything else, at the beginning of #2. The ouvertures #1, #3, and #4 have nothing.

Have you heard William Malloch's or Andrew Parrott's recordings of these? Or Guttler's? (Those aren't the only rather quick performances, but three that I happen to have here handy.) They're not "slow", let alone "extremely slow". Nor is Hans-Martin Linde's (OOP already? Mine's an HMV special marked 2005).

Parrott: http://www.amazon.fr/Concertos-brandebourgeois-Suites-pour-orchestre/dp/B00002ZZ58

Malloch: http://www.amazon.fr/Bach-Suites-Dancing-Johann-Sebastian/dp/B000001SDO

Guttler: Amazon.de

Notwithstanding the EXTREME slow motion of, say, Scherchen.

Nor are there any such tempo or character markings in the keyboard partitas in D major and B minor; both labelled as ouvertures, and both in cut-C meter (implying a somewhat faster tempo than C meter), with no printed words of explanation. [Both these pieces were published by Bach; the orchestral ouvertures weren't.]

Sorry if I seem so disagreeable, but this music simply isn't slow!

Neil Halliday wrote (February 7, 2007):
minuet or sarabande?...overtures not slow...

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>Sorry if I seem so disagreeable, but this music simply isn't slow!<
Hang on Brad! This music? You yourself have just noted "Lentement" for the closing section of the B minor Orchestral Suite. http://www.wordreference.com/fren/lentement

BTW, how and why did the word "grave" arise, to describe the A sections of the ABA French overture form? IMO, the A sections are the one section of the whole set of suite movements that are not primarily meant to suggest dance, but raher to suggest nobilty (perceptions of which will admittedly differ).

As for Scherchen's 'Lentement', this music has such exquisite grace that one is grateful for Scherchen's reading, and one would hope that such readings remain a possibility.

Re the time signatures of the A sections of the Orchestral Suites (4/4, not 2/2), is there any significance in the point you make that the orchestral suites were not published in Bach's lifetime?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 7, 2007):
>Sorry if I seem so disagreeable, but this music simply isn't slow!<
< Hang on Brad! This music? You yourself have just noted "Lentement" for the closing section of the B minor Orchestral Suite. >
Did you see what I wrote about its application at that position in the B minor ouverture?

"(...) and it's "Lentement", only at the point after the fugal section where it switches from cut-C into a 3/4 (so the notes here start going approximately half as fast, but not necessarily slower yet than that)."
As I take it there, it's just an alert that the notes are changing to approximately half of their previous value...along with the metric shift from two beats to three. The quavers of the preceding section (in cut-C) become approximately the semiquavers of the new 3/4. I believe it doesn't mean slamming on the brakes with some big ritardando, to make the whole thing slow after the "Lentement" point!

Neil Halliday wrote (February 7, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>Did you see what I wrote about its application at that position in the B minor ouverture? <
Yes, sorry, I should have got to my point; why does 'cut C' to 'normal C' necessarily indicate an approximate halving of the note speeds (or vice versa)?

For example, given Parrot's tempo in the A section (4/4, or C time) of No.1, about crotchet = 80, by my reckoning it is simply impossible to play the B section (2/2, cut C) at anything like double the speed, ie, minim =80.

I have expanded on this point in a post to the BMML: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachMusicology/message/507

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 7, 2007):
[To Neil Halliday] Neil, I didn't say that cut-C is twice as fast as C. Nor did I assert that Parrott or anybody else tries to play it that way, in this piece.

I've answered more fully on your other thread on BachMusicology.

Douglas Cowling wrote (February 7, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< For example, given Parrot's tempo in the A section (4/4, or C time) of No.1, about crotchet = 80, by my reckoning it is simply impossible to play the B section (2/2, cut C) at anything like double the speed, ie, minim =80. >
Proportional relationships were extremely important in 16th and 17th century where individual movements frequentl shifted back and forth between duple and triple time. We see this tradition still at work in a tripartite movement like the "Confiteor" of the B Minor Mass where the three sections, "Confiteor", "Et expecto" (adagio) and "Et expecto" (Alleg) have an implied mathematical relationship which is usually ignored by conductors who fill the adagio with Romantic rubato and adopt a wholly new tempo for the allegro. Listen to the bar before the third section and you will frequently hear how grinding the tempo shift is -- are the first two notes of the soprano theme in the "old" or the "new" tempo?

The implication of proportional rhythm is also usually ignored in the Sanctus where the triplet of the "Sanctus" should be equal to the 3/8 of the "Pleni" and on into the "Osanna". As with the Credo, these sections are usually treated as separate movements with their own tempi.

The larger question here is whether in addition to a tonal scheme for a work such as the "Credo", Bach also had a rhythmic scheme so that all the movements had mathematical relationships to each other. The argument could be quite compelling for the Credo which is so symmetrical. Whether there should a tempo scheme for the cantatas is much more difficult to ascertain. For instance, in "Wachet Auf", should there be a mathematical correspondence of some kind between the three movements based on the chorale?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 7, 2007):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< For example, given Parrot's tempo in the A section (4/4, or C time) of No.1, about crotchet = 80, by my reckoning it is simply impossible to play the B section (2/2, cut C) at anything like double the speed, ie, minim =80. >
I've had opportunity now to listen to all of Parrott's recording, first movement, with metronome and score. (B minor Ouverture, BWV 1067.)

His tempos for those three sections:

1 (C meter): crotchet = 82
2 (cut-2 meter): minim = 106
3 (3/4 meter and "Lentement"): crotchet = 72 plus a ritard toward the end, each time.

So, his performance has the fugal section (2) more than double the speed of the opening; and the third section slightly slower than the first.

It all seems rather moderate and graceful, to me.

Linde's recording has 72 - 96 - 72. Nice matching of the outside sections there.

Malloch's has 92 - 104 - 88. (Malloch as a researcher notably had hypotheses about holding basically proportional tempi through entire suites, by the way.) This is the only one in my collection that seems maybe a bit too fast, to me, in the opening section.

Guttler's has 72 - 96 - 76.

Muller-Bruhl's (Naxos) has 76 - 100 - 72.

Goebel's has 72 - 116(!!) - 72.

So, all six of these have the middle fugal section quite a bit faster than Neil's "simply impossible" minim = 80. :)

I have a bunch of slower ones, too, but not time/inclination this afternoon to measure their speeds.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 8, 2007):
Bradley Lehmanwrote:
>I've had opportunity now to listen to all of Parrott's recording, first movement, with metronome and score. (B minor Ouverture, BWV 1067.)<
in reply to my message:
<"For example, given Parrot's tempo in the A section (4/4, or C time) of No.1, about crotchet = 80, by my reckoning it is simply impossible to play the B section (2/2, cut C) at anything like double the speed, ie, minim =80.>"
Brad, in speed reading my above passage, you have missed the fact I am referring to Overture No.1 (C major), not the 2nd Overture (B minor). Obviously, I should have made that clearer.

As far as the B minor is concerned, which as I noted in my BMML post is the only Overture in which a roughly 2:1 speed relationship is possible given Parrott's tempo in the A section, you gave Parrott's speed (thanks) of the A and B sections as

1 (C meter): crotchet = 82

2 (cut-2 meter): minim = 106

Yes, the B section is somewhat more than double the speed of the A section.

So far so good.

But now look at No. 1 in C major (and 3 in D major).

With Parrott's crotchet = c.80 in the A section, the continuous 1/16th notes in the B section, at minim = c.80, fly by like the notes in that 1/32 note run in the A section - simply impossible!

My guess is that Parrott, in No.1 (C major) has minim = c. 50 or 60, much less than c.80.

These considerations speak strongly against any even approximate 2:1 relationship between C and Cut C.

Therefore I would ask Doug: have so many great musicians really got it so wrong (in the choral works he cites which I haven't looked at yet), as a result, in Doug's view, of violating this 2:1 `rule'?

Neil Halliday wrote (February 8, 2007):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>"The implication of proportional rhythm is also usually ignored in the Sanctus where the triplet of the "Sanctus" should be equal to the 3/8 of the "Pleni" and on into the "Osanna". As with the Credo, these sections are usually treated as separate movements with their own tempi."<
I wrote in a subsequent post:
<"These considerations speak strongly against any even approximate 2:1 relationship between C and Cut C">
While noting Doug's point above (about proportional rhythm), I think that is a different issue from my concern about cut C necessarily being twice as fat as normal C.

------

(Please note: I do not want to be seen to be arguing for Parrott's choice of tempi in the A sections of the Overtures!.

I have shown that Parrott himself, in his Overtures no.1 (C major) and no.3 (D major) obviously does not believe that `Cut C' is about twice as fast as `C metre', because his `C metre' sections (what we are used to calling the "Grave' sections) are way too fast for this `rule' to hold.

But if the 'rule' is correct, then the A sections of 1 and 3 must be taken much slower than Parrott takes them, hence the reasonableness of the term `Grave" for the A sections (and this is point at which this thread began: ie 'Grave, or not 'Grave'.

(Nevertheless, I personally still want to disassociate a fixed relationship between "C" and "Cut C", but I've said enough on this matter for the time being).

 

Dance Rhythms and Dance Rhythms in Bach

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 192 - Discussions

Jean Laaninrn wrote (August 1, 2008):
BWV 192 - Dance Rhythms and Dance Rhythms in Bach

William Hoffman (maybe Stephen, too) raised the opportunity for those of us who like to write to think about the dance rhythms in this week's cantata, and this led me to think about the dance rhythms in Bach, generally speaking.

My discussion takes a bit of a circuitous route here, but while I have been letting the topic free float in my mind I have been working on two projects. The first is the decoration of a bushel gourd - and thinking about the use of musical instruments in primal religion and society made from these objects of nature. A few weeks ago I had the unique but brief opportunity to visit with a Native American Indian medicine woman. She happened to be at the gourd farm in Casa Grande, Arizona when we took our granddaughter to explore the bins of vegetables that are nature's canvas. This lovely woman about my age was purchasing gourds to make instruments for the Native American Indian ceremonials. To just add a word about these events, they are designed as healing festivities which bring restoration and harmony to the people. That being a very brief comment, I have also been studying a book on Navajo (American Indian) philosophy, and the combination of these factors and thinking about J.S. Bach using dance rhythms reminded me that he often selected dance rhythms as a basis for his many organ works, and they are often found in the cantatas. (Buxtehude, too, I believe.) I don't know if people will think my analogy goes too far here, but I have an idea Bach found life and healing in these rhythms.

To come a little more into context, the rhythms of the dance, though varied are well documented in the Hebrew worship in scripture directly or indirectly as one looks at the cadence of verses and stories. The people of God danced...but we also have the fateful story of the dance before the golden calf so the dance matters but discretion is a factor. I will bear correction on this if warranted. By the time the the Christian scriptures I can't recall worship in this fashion, but maybe this is a senior moment.

Were Bach's rhythm's libidinous, as has been suggested, or were they a product of twholeness of life and creation in a healing fashion?

Incidentally, though the topic hasn't really come up in a while, the matter of Bach's twenty children surfaces from time to time. This discussion has largely come from the male contingent in our group, but I got to thinking about the fact that Bach also happened to marry women who were perhaps for that time unique in their capacity for bearing so many children. It takes two to tango, as the expression goes, and birth, maturation, marriage and children all fall ((neatly)) into the plan of creation. I think Bach was awfully smart and ever so aware--and certainly not afraid to use the common meter for communication musically.

Those are my free floating thoughts at the moment...perhaps a closer look at the texts and scriptures would provide more detail but I will leave the topic for now for the comments of others.

William Hoffman wrote (August 3, 2008):
Jean Laaninen wrote [Dance]:
< in part: thinking about J. S. Bach using dance rhythms reminded me that he often selected dance rhythms as a basis for his many organ works, and they are often found in the cantatas. (Buxtehude, too, I believe.) I don't know if people will think my analogy goes too far here, but I have an idea Bach found life and healing in these rhythms. >
William Hoffman responds:
Buxtehude, I believe, came from the branch of Lutherans called "Happy Danes," as opposed to "Dour Danes." I think most Scandanavians, and perhaps most European Lutherans can be divided into these two groups -- a gross oversimplification. Yes, dance rhythms are found in his praeludia, ritornelli, sonatas, suites and variations, according to the Index in Kerala J. Snyder's biography, "Dietrich Buxtehude: Organist in Lübeck." In progressive Northern Germany, Buxtehude found numerous opportunities to challenge the conservatives and stimulate his audiences. His Abendmusik is a great example of theatrical, operatic, oratrorio influences in a church but not during a service. The annual Advent public concerts included impressive lighting and decorations but no dramatic movement. Still, close your eyes and let your imagination go!

I think it's all in the eyes -- and ears -- of the beholder. Also, there's an old Navajo or Zuni saying to the effect that "If you destroy a song of nature you destroy the place where the song was made."

Vivat205 wrote (August 3, 2008):
William Hoffman wrote [Dance]:
<< I believe.) I don't know if people will think my analogy goes too far here, but I have an idea Bach found life and healing in these rhythms. >>
< William Hoffman responds:
there's an old Navajo or Zuni saying to the effect that "If you destroy a song of nature you destroy the place where the song was made." >
Wow-the start of a new thread: imagined "new age" implications in Bach!

Jane Newble wrote (August 3, 2008):
Dance Rhythms and Dance Rhythms in Bach

[Dance] < I don't know if people will think my analogy goes too far here, but I have an idea Bach found life and healing in these rhythms. >
Funny, I always think that when I listen to the strange and beautiful Canons (BWV 1087).

But perhaps those were the things he dreamed and wrote down in the morning.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 3, 2008):
Jane Newble wrote: [Dance]:
< Funny, I always think that when I listen to the strange and beautiful Canons (BWV 1087).
But perhaps those were the things he dreamed and wrote down in the morning. >
It is only recently that scholarly and interpretative attention has been turned on the dance elements in Bach's sacred music, so relentless was the desire to make a division between a "sacred style" and a "secular style". This distinction has been effectively debunked in the last 20 years as the homogenity of Bach's musical language has been asserted. No longer is there any sniffiness or embarrassment that Bach used concerto movements in the sacred cantatas although the concomittant "Exhausted Choir Theory" still appears in discussion of the solo cantatas.

There has also been a substantive change in interpretation with faster tempos and more crisply articulated rhythms. A classic example of the old resistance to "dance elements" is "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" from "Herz und Mund". Bach takes his cue from the text, "Jesu bleibet meine Freude" and writes what is manifestly a brisk dancing gigue. Yet the old Romantic prejudice still lingers, and even in HIP performences, we still hear overly cantibile, legato phrasing.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 4, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>Bach takes his cue from the text, "Jesu bleibet meine Freude" and writes what is manifestly a brisk dancing gigue<
But what of "If the tears of my cheeks are unavailing" (from the SMP)? Does the dotted articulation and triple time rhythm indicate a brisk dance? Just such an approach (from Academy of Ancient Music Berlin) seemed totally unsatisfying, unmoving and frankly silly in the Passion.

As for Jesu Joy, it can work very well in a "Romantic" garb.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 4, 2008):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< But what of "If the tears of my cheeks are unavailing" (from the SMP)? Does the dotted articulation and triple time rhythm indicate a brisk dance? Just such an approach (from Academy of Ancient Music Berlin) seemed totally unsatisfying, unmoving and frankly silly in the Passion. >
Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on this one. AMM Berlin is taking their cue from historical context, not some bogus understanding or what you think is silly or not silly. Other composers such as Telemann and Johann Mattheson would use spritely dance forms in their own Passion settings. Mattheson even used a chorale set as a minuet, and with a glockenspeil obligato! I'm sure that would blow many a "Romantic's reading of what baroque music should be and not be," clean right out of the water.

Neil Halliday wrote (August 4, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>AMM Berlin is taking their cue from historical context, not some bogus understanding or what you think is silly or not silly.<
Still, in comparison to Butt's moving interpretation, AAM Berlin's rendition of "If the tears on my cheeks" as a sprightly dance demonstrates the pitfalls of too literal application of baroque dance-rhythm theory, IMO.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 4, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< There has also been a substantive change in interpretation with faster tempos and more crisply articulated rhythms. A classic example of the old resistance to "dance elements" is "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" from "Herz und Mund". Bach takes his cue from the text, "Jesu bleibet meine Freude" and writes what is manifestly a brisk dancing gigue. >
First of all, gigues are in 6/8 time (not 12/8). Secondly, I invite you to try and actually dance a gigue to Jesu, Joy... and report to us on the results.

Jean Laaninrn wrote (August 4, 2008):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< First of all, gigues are in 6/8 time (not 12/8). Secondly, I invite you to try and actually dance a gigue to Jesu, Joy... and report to us on the results. >
This is humorous of course, but one can still feel the graceful lilt rhythmically even if one did not choose to get up and dance. I don't suppose the defined rhythm always has to imply the traditional dance either. The gentle swaying feeling in this number is something like a mother moving about a room consoling a young child, IMO. It's healing quality is comforting, I think, and of course tempo is involved.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 4, 2008):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< First of all, gigues are in 6/8 time (not 12/8). Secondly, I invite you to try and actually dance a gigue to Jesu, Joy... and report to us on the results. >
Bach wrote 45 instrumental gigues, variously in 3/8. 6/8 or 12/8 time (a couple are even in 9/16 and 12/16). "Jesu, Joy is in 3/4 with trigigue figures.

I also have a suspicion that the vocal setting of the chorale is cast as a minuet, so that Bach is combining two dance forms, as Mozart would do with three in 'Don Giovanni'.

I'm afraid I gave up dancing sacred jigs years ago, so the more fleet of foot will have to test it.

Uri Golomb wrote (August 4, 2008):
To my ears, the orchestra in Jesu Bleibet doesn't sound gigue-like, since it lacks the characteristic rhythmic figurations of that dance. In fact, it has hardly any rhythmic figures at all -- it's mostly in constant triplets. Dances usually have a much more distinct rhythmic profile than this. The vocal parts sound more dance-like.

The fact that it's probably hard to dance "Jesu bleibet" does not, however, in itself militate against classifying it as a dance. BAch's keyboard and orchestral suites contain many "dances" which fulfil many requirements of their respective dance-forms -- yet which most people would find very difficult to actually dance to. (However, I myself hardly ever dance, so maybe I'm not qualified to judge....) Bach knew that his suites were meant to be played or heard, but not actually danced to; so he wrote highly stylised dances, that did not force themselves into actually danceable patterns, but were still meant to remind listeners of dances. He wasn't alone in this, of course. He did the same in many cantata movements; I just don't feel that "Jesus bleibet" is among them.

John Pike wrote (August 4, 2008):
[To Uri Golomb] I agree with this. I would not think of dancing to "Jesu bleibet", nor to many of the other pieces clearly labelled by Bach as a dance, eg many of the movements of the solo violin partitas or other suites for solo instrument (not least because I am the world's worst dancer). One would not dance to the Chaconne, for example.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 4, 2008):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< Bach knew that his suites were meant to be played or heard, but not actually danced to... >
I'm going to pull an Ed here, and ask-- do we really have any proof that's the case? We hardly know anything about these instrumental pieces, so how can we make any sort of guesses what was done or not done when they were performed?

For my part, I find it interesting that when I look at music archive listings (e.g. Darmstadt), I don't see any dance collections per se from the baroque period, but we know they danced all the time (diary entries mainly). What does Darmstadt have plenty of from the baroque period: orchestral suites (e.g. "ouverturen"). The orchestral suite itself came from the world of ballet and opera, where dance was such an integral element to those forms. I'm not saying they were dancing to this music, but I just think it's silly to make all sorts of broad assumptions.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 4, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Bach wrote 45 instrumental gigues, variously in 3/8. 6/8 or 12/8 time (a couple are even in 9/16 and 12/16). "Jesu, Joy is in 3/4 with triplet gigue figures. >
Umm, how to say this? Last time I checked, the gigue was a six-beat dance. How are we going to do a jig to 3 x 3?

< I also have a suspicion that the vocal setting of the chorale is cast as a minuet, so that Bach is combining two dance forms, as Mozart would do with three in 'Don Giovanni'. >
The cantus firmus to Jesu, Joy... does sound much more like a minuet at least than the accompaniment. It would not be completely impossible to do a minuet to it (just got up and tried).

< I'm afraid I gave up dancing sacred jigs years ago, so the more fleet of foot will have to test it. >
See above ;)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 4, 2008):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< To my ears, the orchestra in Jesu Bleibet doesn't sound gigue-like, since it lacks the characteristic rhythmic figurations of that dance. >
My sentiments exactly. The only reason I didn't write it earlier is that I got up and had a look at my Bach violin partitas...

< The fact that it's probably hard to dance "Jesu bleibet" does not, however, in itself militate against classifying it as a dance. BAch's keyboard and orchestral suites contain many "dances" which fulfil many requirements of their respective dance-forms -- yet which most people would find very difficult to actually dance to. (However, I myself hardly ever dance, so maybe I'm not qualified to judge....) >
I studied court dance for a couple of years. You are in principle quite right in thinking that the 'dance' movements in the suites (partitas etc.) are very difficult to dance to. More below.

< Bach knew that his suites were meant to be played or heard, but not actually danced to; so he wrote highly stylised dances, that did not force themselves into actually danceable patterns, but were still meant to remind listeners of dances. >
I personally think that the 'dances' under consideration are so stylized that it is often questionable whether they meet the requirements of the eponymous dance, much less remind the listener of same...

< He wasn't alone in this, of course. He did the same in many cantata movements; I just don't feel that "Jesus bleibet" is among them. >
Count me in ;)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 4, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< I'm going to pull an Ed here, and ask-- do we really have any proof that's the case? We hardly know anything about these instrumental pieces, so how can we make any sort of guesses what was done or not done when they were performed? >
Umm, we can 1) make an educated guess by looking for the rhythmic figures (or absence thereof) typical of a given dance, and more importantly 2) try to dance to the pieces in question and see what happens.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 4, 2008):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< Umm, we can 1) make an educated guess by looking for the rhythmic figures (or absence thereof) typical of a given dance, and more importantly 2) try to dance to the pieces in question and see what happens. >
Um, but that depends on how the performer plays the music, and that's what we're hashing out, n'cest pas? Obviously some performers can accentuate the dance motiff in the music. But I'm thrilled you used the word "educated guess." ;)

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 4, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Um, but that depends on how the performer plays the music, and that's what we're hashing out, n'cest pas? Obviously some performers can accentuate the dance motiff in the music. But I'm thrilled you used the word "educated guess." ;) >
Well, notice also that I said 'rhythmic figures (or absence thereof)'. What I meant by those words is that, as has been mentioned by others in this thread, the figures simply are not always there. This is why I did not talk about this issue in the context of Jesu, Joy... - because I had just gone to my Bach violin partitas and looked at the gigue (unless I'm missing something, only the E major has one) and found... a cavernous paucity of 'typical gigue figures'. When those figures are absent, there's not much the performer can do to make the music danceable. The piece will remain what it is - stylized.

Stephen Benson wrote (August 4, 2008):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< The piece will remain what it is - stylized. >
But does the fact that a dance form is "stylized" mean that one now has license to rob the music of the rhythmic pulse that is the essence of dance? Certainly, there may be other factors that might dictate such a choice, but in the absence of those factors, I see no justification for stripping the music of its vigor. One doesn't have to be able to actually physically dance the piece, but there is nothing wrong with communicating a sense of the potentiality for movement. One qualification of that, I guess, might be with respect to dance movements in the cantatas, where the church fathers might want to discourage eighteenth-century Lutherans from dancing jigs in the aisles at Sunday services!

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 4, 2008):
Steve Benson wrote:
>But does the fact that a dance form is "stylized" mean that one now has license to rob the music of the rhythmic pulse that is the essence of dance?<
There is a lot of a discussion in the BCW archives, as I recall, suggesting that the to that question is yes, based on the publications of Mattheson. I would be interested in the opinions of more recent BCML members and baroque specialists.

I appreciate Kims acknowledgement of the <Ed-ucated guess>, and question.

Jean Laaninrn wrote (August 5, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm afraid I gave up dancing sacred jigs years ago, so the more fleet of foot will have to test it. >
I must say with all good humor that I am certainly relieved to get this piece of news.

John Pike wrote (August 5, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< There is a lot of a discussion in the BCW archives, as I recall, suggesting that the answer to that question is yes, based on the publications of Mattheson. I would be interested in the opinions of more recent BCML members and baroque specialists.
I appreciate Kims acknowledgement of the <Ed-ucated guess>, and question. >
I wouldn't consider myself a baroque specialist but I do think that there are many dance-like riches in the music of Bach. These features should usually be immediately apparent to one studying the music and should suggest an appropriate tempo, articulation and phrasing. Personally, I think it is quite wrong to deplete the music of all these riches in performance. It may "work" to some ears if one chooses slower tempi that were used traditionally in the past, but often the general dance-like qualities of the music would suggest to me a different tempo or articulation. One reason why I find John Eliot Gardiner's recordings so compelling is that he is always alert to the dance-like qualities. Occasionally I find a movement of his too fast but usually I find his recordings thrilling and faithful to the music. Some of the older recordings by other conductors by comparison sound "pleasant" enough but eviscerated of the essential dance-like qualities.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 5, 2008):
[To Stephen Benson] You have a point there. The problem though, is that 'stylized' dances often are at least somewhat lacking in the typical rhythmic figures of the dance in question, which makes it difficult to impose on them the rhythmic pulse essential to the dances in question. Which does in turn impact the conveyance of potential for movement.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 6, 2008):
John Pike responded to my previous post:
>One reason why I find John Eliot Gardiner's recordings so compelling is that he is always alert to the dance-like qualities. Occasionally I find a movement of his too fast but usually I find his recordings thrilling and
faithful to the music. Some of the older recordings by other conductors by comparison sound "pleasant" enough but eviscerated of the essential dance-like qualities.<
I agree on these points, including the occasional Gardiner (and others) quick tempo, but this is our own 21st C. personal preference. I was originally questioning the documentation for 18th C. performance practice, especially the point that church and salon (dance?) tempos of the same or similar riffs would be significantly different (reference Mattheson).

I believe this was a topic which deteriorated into an emotional disagreement, in BCML history, without ever summarizing the evidence. I am certainly not intending to revive the disagreement (although that is always a hazard), simply suggesting that there is an abundance of interesting material for the specialists. That does not include me. I am an interested spectator and commentator on most BCML topics, with no expertise other than what I think of recordings.

And wedding and funeral plans. Dance at both.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (August 6, 2008):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
> I agree on these points, including the occasional Gardiner (and others) quick tempo, but this is our own 21st C. personal preference. I was originally questioning the documentation for 18th C. performance practice, especially the point that church and salon (dance?) tempos of the same or similar riffs would be significantly different (reference Mattheson). <
Yet Mattheson uses a chorale set in the form of a Minuet in his Brockes Passion, along with a dulcimer obbligato. You can't get anymore connected to a dance than this. I've read the excerpts on the website, unless we're talking about something else, I see nothing in them that warrants a denial of dance patterns in performing Bach.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 6, 2008):
Kim Patrick Clow responded to my post:
>Yet Mattheson uses a chorale set in the form of a Minuet in his Brockes Passion, along with a dulcimer obbligato. You can't get anymore connected to a dance than this. I've read the excerpts on the website, unless we're talking about something else, I see nothing in them that warrants a denial of dance patterns in performing Bach.<
Thanks for a work (new to me) to follow. Much of the BCML argument that I recall (not convenient for me to review at the moment) was related to issues of tempo rather than dance pattern, but I think you have taken a step toward resolution of the disagreements: considering the music of Mattheson, as well as his text.

Anyway, not a simple issue, and worthy of discussion. Did we play a dance tune as quickly in church (sacred) as outside (secular), in the 18th C., and how do we know? Should we strive to reproduce 18th C. practice (as understood in 21st C.), as the best possible performance, or as an interesting, evolving, slice of history?

Most difficult, was the music for Bach in the performance, or in the score? SDG. I side with the performance, but not a closed question.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 7, 2008):
Here is the beginning of the key BCW discussion I was recalling, relevant to Mattheson on dance:

Thomas Braatz wrote (May 5, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>>Yes in that most of the suite keyboard and orchestral) and partita movements were written to dance rhythms--minuet, gigue, sarabande, gavotte etc etc. However by Bach's time these were skeletonal rhythmic structures which carried the musical ideas, not actually written or meant to be danced to. So he wrote plenty of 'dance' music--but to be played or listened to rather than danced to.<<
Johann Mattheson explains that there were great differences between how actual dance music for dancing was performed and how these same dances would be treated differently when performed as chamber music ("Kammer-Styl") and with even greater differences when composed and performed according to "Kirchen-Styl" (Church Style). It is all too easy (and simplistic) for performers nowadays to "lump together" and treat "dance music" the same way in the various performing environments that were kept distinctly separate in the 1st half of the 18th century when Bach lived.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Acoustics.htm

EM:
I have noticed recent references to the following text, but I had previously overlooked it in the BCW archives, and I have not yet accessed it. Appears to be crucial to the discussion of dance rhythms.

Dance Mvts.
Thomas Braatz wrote (July 27, 2002):
Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne have a new expanded edition of their book, "Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach."
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Dance.htm

Mary Vinquist wrote (August 7, 2008):
[To Ed Myskowski] Here's the complete bibliographic reference on the Little/Jenne book:

Little, Meredith and Natalie Jenne."Dance and the Music of J.S. Bach", expanded edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

My copy is paperback, check IUP for price.

It's a thorough study of the topic.

Mary Vinquist wrote (August 7, 2008):
IUP has it in its catalogue, so it is definitely available. List price is $27.95. Sure that it is also available through the usual book outlets.

Stephen Be wrote (August 7, 2008):
[To Mary Vinquist] $24.26 through Amazon, and they do have it in stock.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 7, 2008):
[To Mary Vinquist] There are really two questions here:

1) Was actual courtly dance music performed with the same tempos, articulation and dynamics as the "dance" movements in the Brandenburg Concertos? If I;m not mistaken, we don't have any Bach scores for music which accompanied dancing. It's interesting to look at Mozart's orchestrated marches and dances which were clearly practical dance music with very little artfulness -- not too many notes! When these forms appear in the operas and symphonies, they are given a degree of refinement and development which just doesn't exist in the sock hop music. Without Bach's dance music to compare, it's impossible to be conclusive, but the dance forms in the keyboard works have become sophisticated art forms

2) What were the practical performance differences between sacred music and secular music? Was the secular cantata, "Tonet Ihr Pauken", played differently when it became "Jauchzet Frohlocket" in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)? Were tempos slower and more "solemn", was there less frivolous ornamentation, was articulation smoothed out to sound like antique polyphony? I find it hard to believe that Bach performed the same music in two different ways. And this is where I think that Mattheson and his contemporaries over-emphasized differences in the two styles -- differences which didn't exist practically -- in order to deflect criticism from non-musicians that impious secular music was creeping into the church and displacing traditional music.

Dance sidebar: At last year's Toronto International Bach Festival under Helmut Rilling, the intern conductors were treated to a morning of practiucal dance instruction in gavottes, minuets and the like by the period choreographer of Opera Atelier. I hope they conduct better than they dance.

John Pike wrote (August 7, 2008):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< 2) What were the practical performance differences between sacred music and secular music? Was the secular cantata, "Tonet Ihr Pauken", played differently when it became "Jauchzet Frohlocket" in the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248)? Were tempos slower and more "solemn", was there less frivolous ornamentation, was articulation smoothed out to sound like antique polyphony? I find it hard to believe that Bach performed the same music in two different ways. And this is where I think that Mattheson and his contemporaries over-emphasized differences in the two styles -- differences which didn't exist practically -- in order to deflect criticism from non-musicians that impious secular music was creeping into the church and displacing traditional music. >
I absolutely agree on this point.

Can I also correct a little inaccuracy that crept into one of Cara's postings. She stated that the only Gigue in the Bach solo violin works was the last movement of the E major partita. This is certainly a Gigue, and it is indeed in 6/8, but there is also a Gigue as the penultimate movement of the D minor Partita (immediately before the Chaconne) and that one is in 12/8.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (August 7, 2008):
[To John Pike] Thanks for correction. I guess what got me is that normally (it seems to me anyway), if there's a gigue in a suite or partita, it's the last movement... In this case it isn't, I also haven't studied the partita in its entirety, and evidently I overlooked it while paging through the text. Sorry folks!

John Pike wrote (August 8, 2008):
Cara Emily Thornton wrote:
< Thanks for correction. I guess what got me is that normally (it seems to me anyway), if there's a gigue in a suite or partita, it's the last movement... >
Agreed. This must be a very rare Gigue in Bach in that it is not a last movement. Does anyone else have any examples of a Bach Gigue that is not a last movement?

Julian Mincham wrote (August 9, 2008):
Having just returned from several weeks abroad I am a few hundred 'Bach Cantata list' emails behind so apologies if I have not picked up fully on this thread.? But in skipping through some of the most recent ones?I came across the assertion that gigues were only in 6/8 time?? A misreading surely?

A glance through the French suites alone gives us gigues in 4/4, 3/8 and 12/16 as well as the expected 6/8. There are numerous examples in 12/8 (the last movement of the 6th English suite is one although admitedly it's ponderous chromatic quality would seem to distance it from any idea of dancing trippingly!---see also the last movement of the Bm flute (violin??) sonata).

Is not the point that Bach experimented with a number of patterns but to the listener the main feeling comes across as a dotted rhythm (compound) structure with two, three or four main?beats in the bar i.e. it will sound as if it is one of 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 time signatures. Even the 3/8 gigue of the third French suite sounds like 6/8 to the ear---?---probably because of the two-bar phrasing of the material in the opening bars.

William Hoffman wrote (August 8, 2008):
Dance rhythms: Gigue in Serenades

John Pike wrote:
< Agreed. This must be a very rare Gigue in Bach in that it is not a last movement. Does anyone else have any examples of a Bach Gigue that is not a last movement? >
William Hoffman replies: I am prersently researching dance movements in Bach's Koethen serenades, which were parodied in Leipzig as sacred cantatas. Wolff JSB:TLM, P. 199, cites a Gigue-Passapied as BWV 66a/1, since that Cantata starts with a recitative, I suspect it's the parodied BWV 66/1 chorus, which, alas closes BWV 66a. I'm also checking BWV 194a and BWV 134a.

 

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