Dance Based Music on Piano

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of dance is “to move your body in a way that goes with the rhythm and style of music that is being played.”

As you can see in that definition, these two important ways of expressing human feelings, music and dance, are very closely related. Countless pieces of music have been composed for dance, and are still being composed. 

It is impossible and useless to count how many kinds of dances exist in the world. Different kinds of dances have been developed according to their purposes, cultures, rhythm and tempo. For this reason, the field of dance-related music necessarily expanded significantly. 

A great deal of dance music has been written for orchestras, small ensembles, or vocals. Along with them, keyboard music also has a huge repertoire of dance pieces. For example, one of the most famous form in Baroque period was suites. Suites usually include 5 or more dance movements in the same key, such as Minuet, Allemende, Courant, Sarabande, Gigue, Bourree, Gavotte, Passepied, and so on. Nationalistic dances like waltz, polonaise, mazurka, and tarantella, were wonderful sources for composers like Chopin, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. Dance-based movements were used for Mozart and Beethoven’s piano sonatas, chamber works and concertos. 

Composers have routinely traveled around the world to collect folk and dance tunes from places they visit. For example, Bartok and Balakirev's pieces that are based on folk dances from where they had traveled became famous and are still thought to be valuable for studying and performing today. 

For these reasons, it is clear that dance-related music is a very important part of keyboard music. In three dissertation recitals, to expand my performing repertoire and to understand dance-related music deeper, I tried to explore many different styles of dances, and compare interpretations between composers. 

This program note contains information about each pieces’ composers, related dances, and backgrounds. I hope this will be helpful for a future performer who’s seeking an effective dance based keyboard piece.



NOTICE: Recordings accompanying this record are available only to University of Maryland College Park faculty, staff, and students and cannot be reproduced, copied, distributed or performed publicly by any means without prior permission of the copyright holder.