Listening Log – [Pt. III]- La bourrée en Auvergne par Lou Belladaires and Johann Sebastian Bach – Bourrée in E Minor, BWV 996.


La bourrée en Auvergne par Lou Belladaires, traditional bouree French clog dance. In February 2020 Listened (Youtubestreaming) La bourrée en Auvergne par Lou Belladaires‘. (traditional) Public Domain Dance Performers: Clermont-Ferrand Groupe Folklorique : Lou Belladaires Band: Jean-Michel Legros.

Johann Sebastian Bach – Bourrée in E Minor, BWV 996. Performers: Julian Bream on SME (on behalf of RCA Red Seal); Public Domain . Youtube Oct 23, 2010.

Just like in my previous listening log I had the desire to hear the traditional version of one of the dance movements I heard in Handel’s Water music, namely the French dance ‘La bourrée’. I chose to listen to a double time piece performed by an accordion, fiddle and hurdy gurdy ensemble. Every section is marked by the dancers stamping the feet along to the cadential part of the melody. Again the structure is in a AB format and the subsections are repeated. The rhythm is very distinct with tow quavers and then a crochet.

I’m finding it quite cheerful and also pretty old fashioned, like a barn dance. I do struggle to see how this ended up adopted into Baroque music and used so frequently by the likes of Bach. One possible explanation is that it made it’s way into Classical music via the ballet dance performed in Baroque Theatre. Bach’s version below, although still structurally simple with the different sections very clearly demarcated and repeated, is musically more complex with intricate melody lines and a key modulation.

There are also examples of this style in Popular music like Beatles and Jimmy Page and Jethro Tull’s Bach cover.