18th - 19th Century dance
During the 18th and 19th centuries the most popular dances were the Waltz and the Polka. In this period, dances were often written not for the dance floor, but for the concert hall. For example, symphonies often had a waltz movement, and piano pieces were sometimes in waltz or polka time.
Originating in Vienna, during the 19th Century the waltz became popular all over Europe.
The Waltz always has three beats in the bar and has a bass note on the first beat. Waltzes can be identified by the 'um cha cha, um cha cha' that forms the backbone of the music.
They commonly feature a low pitched accompaniment and a higher series of elegant melodies.
The speed of the waltz is usually fairly quick and lively.
Waltzes usually contain a string of seven or eight different melodies with an introduction and a coda (ending passage).
Waltzes were written for string orchestras, full orchestras including woodwind and brass, and for solo instruments such as the piano or guitar.
The Polka originally came from the area around Czechoslovakia and was a craze in the 1840s. Everyone was dancing the Polka and so it spread around Europe like an epidemic.
The Polka is a very quick dance with 2 beats in the bar.
Like the waltz, polkas were written for any combination of instruments.