SUITES OF DANCES


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"By respecting the inherent nature of each dance, 

the interpreter will find the contrast of tempos 

which brings variety within the suite." 

P. Tortelier

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To understand the choregraphie of the danses, one has to follow the drawings. There is not only one choregraphie possible, it varies depending on the country and the dancers. 

The importance is to get into the spirit of each dance by understanding the style, tempo, rythmic.

Picture taken at the Köthen castle

Secular music in Köthen


J.S Bach composed the 6 Suites for violoncello senza basso during the years he was “Anhalt-Köthen Prince's own musical director" at the court of Köthen between 1717 and 1723. 

At that time, the Calvinist faith prohibited music in the church (organs were removed from churches). During his years in Kothen, Bach's composition were non-religious and intended for the court. Among them, the Violin Sonatas and Partitas, the Brandenburg Concertos, the secular cantatas, Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 846-869) and the Cello Suites. 

Each Suite begins with a Prelude, an introduction to the harmonic journey that will be encountered in the Suite of dances. After the Prelude comes the Allemande... 

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Allemande

gravure extraite de Almanach dansant ou Positions et attitudes de l'allemande , Guillaume
" The Allemande (...) is an earnest, ornamented and finely crafted harmony that conveys the expression of contentedness or of a cheerful temperament delighting in good order and calm." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

courante

"The passion or emotion in which a Courante should be performed is sweet hope. The melody has something heartfelt, yearning and pleasing : the many elements make up hope." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

Steps:

 Small steps, to the side and sometimes back-and-forth.

Two types of courante: 

  • French : 3/2 ou 6/4 , tempo moderate

  • Italian :  3/4 ou 3/8 , faster tempo

The rythm: 

 "the most serious one can find." J.G. Walther, Musicalisches Lexicon, Leipzig, 1732

*Nuove inventioni di balli,  de Cesare Negri Milanese, 1604

sarabande

" The dance Sarabande must be even more narrow  and grandiose (...). It has to express no other emotion but that of veneration" Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

Steps: 

  • Emphasis on the second beat

Metric:

  • In triple time: 3/4 (Suites 1/2/3/4/5) ; 3/2 (Suite 6)

Tempo: 

  • Slow


(THIS PAGE IS still UNDER CONSTRUCTION...) 

MINUETS

"Has no other affect than moderate joy." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

Steps:
  • short steps, graceful
Style:
  • graceful


BOURREES

"Their quality is primarily contentedness and pleasantness; but at the same time it has bestowed upon it a somewhat insouciant or tranquil touch, a little unconcerned or relaxed quality; they are a little careless leisurely, but yet not disagreeable." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

GAVOTTES

"Its effect is truly a jubilating joy.... Its beats are even of number, but it is not in four-four time but one that consists of two half beats. A leaping nature is well the characteristic of these Gavottes, and not a walking one." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

GIGUE


" fluid and not abrupt, somewhat like the smooth rapid flow of a river." Johann Mattheson , 1739, Hambourg

Time: often 3/8 (Suite 2,3,5) , 6/8 (Suite 1,6), 12/8 ((Suite 4)

Tempo: fast dance
Style: Joyful