Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time

Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time

Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time

Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz: A Study of Dance-Music Relations in 3/4 Time

Synopsis

Much music was written for the two most important dances of the 18th and 19th centuries, the minuet and the waltz. In Decorum of the Minuet, Delirium of the Waltz, Eric McKee argues that to better understand the musical structures and expressive meanings of this dance music, one must be aware of the social contexts and bodily rhythms of the social dances upon which it is based. McKee approaches dance music as a component of a multimedia art form that involves the interaction of physical motion, music, architecture, and dress. Moreover, the activity of attending a ball involves a dynamic network of modalities--sight, sound, bodily awareness, touch, and smell, which can be experienced from the perspectives of a dancer, a spectator, or a musician. McKee considers dance music within a larger system of signifiers and points-of-view that opens new avenues of interpretation.

Excerpt

Music Master: You should learn, Sir, the same as you do dancing. the two
arts are very closely allied.

Dancing MASTER: Music and dancing. Music and dancing. That is all that
is necessary.

Music MASTER: There is nothing so useful to a State as music.

Dancing MASTER:MASTER: Without music the State would cease to function.

Dancing MASTER: Man can do nothing at all without dancing.

MOLIÈRE, the WOULD-BE gentleman

This book investigates dance-music relations in two out of the three most influential social dances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: the minuet and the waltz (the contredanse being the other influential dance). I take the position that if one wishes better to understand the musical structures and expressive meanings contained in these dances, it is helpful to be aware of the bodily rhythms of the dances upon which they are based and the social contexts in which they were performed. in doing so, I approach dance music as a component within a multimedia art form, a form that involves the mutual interaction of physical motion, mental attitude, music, architecture, and dress. Moreover, the activity of participating in a ball involves a dynamic network of modalities (sight, sound, bodily awareness, touch, and smell), and these modalities can be experienced from a variety of perspectives (as a dancer, as a spectator, or as a musician). in reconstructing the social multimedia framework of the minuet and waltz, I hope to provide a critical vantage point that . . .

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