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Butt, John. "Bach and the Dance of Humankind."

Butt, John. "Bach and the Dance of Humankind." In Musicology and Dance: Historical and Critical Perspectives, edited by Davinia Caddy and Maribeth Clark, 19-48. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

John Butt raises questions about J. S. Bach and his relationship to dance. As Butt describes it, the standard musicological way of thinking about Bach and his music turns on ideas of compositional authority and control, aesthetic abstraction and religiosity, and a music-stylistic complexity that betrays the composer engaged in intricate motivic working-out. Butt steers away from the mental or cerebral sphere towards the physical, the material and the bodily. Drawing on the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, he ponders the applicability of the notion of embodiment to Bach’s music, not only to pieces labelled ‘bourée’ or ‘gigue’, but also to music with more oblique dance associations. His chapter suggests that there is no mental sphere without the physical, no music without dance.

Year of publication: 2020

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