Return to Homepage

On-line Book Review

YO TOMITA

FRONT COVER
OVERVIEW
Dimension: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.5 cm
TITLE Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach. Expanded Edition by Meredith Little and Natalie Jenne
PUBL. DETAILS Indiana University Press (Bloomington, Indiana, 2001); 337pp; Hardback $52.95; Paperback $26.95.
ISBN Hardback 0-253-33936-7; Paperback 0-253-21464-5
TO ORDER Indiana University Press, 601 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404-3797, USA. Phone 800-842-6796; Fax 812-855-7931; email: iuporder@indiana.edu
SUMMARY
DESCRIPTION Originally published in 1991, this is an expanded edition of a highly popular monograph on the subject of dance rhythm in Bach's works.
WORKS COVERED BWV 1-2, 6-8, 11, 19, 21-22, 25, 28-30, 32, 35-6, 39, 43-4, 48-9, 57, 62-3, 64-5, 68, 75, 77, 80, 91-4, 96, 100-1, 107, 110, 112, 122-5, 129-30, 132, 134-5, 140, 144-5, 149, 152-3, 170, 173, 175-6, 180-2, 184-6, 192-5, 197, 199, 201-2, 204-8, 210-15, 226, 232, 238, 243-5, 248-9, 530, 537, 540, 542-3, 564, 577, 582, 652-4, 676, 679, 768, 775, 781, 783, 804, 806-23, 825-32, 841-3, 846, 848-9, 853, 856, 873, 880-2, 888, 929, 965, 974-5, 977, 983, 985, 988, 995-7, 1002, 1004, 1006-13, 1021, 1023, 1027, 1029-30, 1033, 1035, 1038, 1040-42, 1046-48, 1050-1, 1053-4, 1058, 1060, 1063, 1066-69, 1071, 1079.
READERSHIP Any serious students specialized in the performance of Bach's music.
RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION Bach and Baroque dance; tools for rhythmic analysis.

In performing Bach's works, one of the most important aspects to consider is their rhythmic characteristics in relation to Baroque dance. Without the appropriate rendering of this fundamental vocabulary, no single performance can escape from potentially becoming unstylish and stale.

Since its first publication in 1991, this monograph has proven to be an invaluable reference book on the subject of "Bach and Dance". Taking an objective approach, Little and Jenne describe the specific characteristics for each dance type (see the contents below); with this, one could attempt to analyze almost any Baroque pieces even if they bear no dance title.

Contents
  PREFACE TO THE EXPANDED EDITION
PREFACE

PART I: INTRODUCTION

1. French Court Dance in Bach's World
2. Terms and Procedures

PART II: BACH'S DANCE MUSIC

3. The Bourée
4. The Gavotte
5. The Minuet
6. The Passepied
7. The Sarabande
8. The Courante
9. The Corrente
10. The Gigue
11. The Loure and the Forlana
12. The Polonaise
13. The Chaconne and the Passacaglia
14. The Dance Rhythms in Bach's Larger Works
15. Gigas
APPENDIX A: TITLED DANCES BY J. S. BACH
APPENDIX B: DANCE RHYTHMS IN BACH'S LARGER WORKS
NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX
this favourite book has reached its maturity

This revised edition was prompted by the authors' awareness that they had not completed their work on dance and the music of Bach in those works which had no dance titles.

The chapters that received significant revision are as follows:

  • new chapter [14] on “Dance Rhythm in Bach’s Larger Works” (pp.204-259), discussing what they consider to be bourée-like, gavotte-like, sarabande-like, minuet-like, passepied-like, French gigue-like, loure-like, and forlana-like movements;
  • new chapter [15] on “Gigas” (pp.260-285), discussing both Giga I-like pieces which could be tied to a titled giga, and a few Giga II-like pieces though not directly related to titled gigas;
  • replaced chapter [Appendix B] “Untitled Dance Music by J. S. Bach” (original edn, pp.217-221) with “Dance Rhythms in Bach’s Larger Works” (rev. edn, pp. 299-306).

Thus the first thirteen chapters remain unchanged although minor typographical errors are corrected. Further revisions were made to their already excellent bibliography where 22 references are now added. The book has a newly compiled index: it is now hugely expanded, reflecting their work on two new chapters. No doubt, this favourite book has reached its maturity, though one may wonder if their research could have been extended even further. I still think that many more movements from the WTC could be identified with dance characters. Indeed for a monograph that can be considered as a 'definitive' guide in this field, it is desirable to include a more involved discussion on allemande and siciliano as well, even though they cannot be discussed in the same depth and scope with other dance types.

It is a little curious why the authors avoided discussing those works that are no longer believed to be composed by Bach. Although they fall outside the classification of 'Music of J. S. Bach', they are found in the family albums of W.F. and A.M. Bach, proving that they were 'selected' and performed in Bach's household. BWV Anh.II.114, Minuet in G, is one of these, which is now attributed to Christian Petzold (thanks to the work of Hans-Joachim Schulze). Many people still believe it to be Bach's work, and there is little reason to ignore it, especially since it is these people that find this book most useful.

Published online on 1 April 2002

Return to the previous page