Las Dansas barrocas

"By respecting the inherent nature of each dance, the interpreter will find the contrast of tempos which brings variety within the Suite." 

P. Tortelier


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.


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.

The photo here was taken in Köthen.


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...


" 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


"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


 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


" 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


Emphasis on the second beat


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

Tempo: Slow


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

short steps, graceful



"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


"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


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


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

Tempo: fast dance

Style: Joyful

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