This question is about a type of Baroque dance called Echo. For example, Bach: Overture in the French Style in B Minor, BWV 831 - VIII. Echo.

Why it is called Echo? I searched in wikipdiea, but out of hundreds of entries titled "echo", I cannot find the Baroque dance.

PS: If "Echo" means the reflection of sound waves, that's a very beautiful word.

  • My first reaction was that this was a weird abbreviation for an Écossaise, which is apparently not the case. Interesting!
    – Richard
    Aug 25, 2020 at 12:09

2 Answers 2


Echo pieces usually have, as in this one, a short phrase that is repeated, often softer, as if an echo. In Bach's piece the repeat is not literal. You will hear it at the end of longer phrases when the last beat is repeated softer and without harmony. Bach cleverly messes with the metre during these echo moments.


Echo (see Collins dictionary) derives from the Greek word ἠχώ, and means a softer, delayed repetition of the same sound, in the physical sense caused by reflection. So it does not relate to a dance. I learned, that in the French Ouverture the Echo movement is no softer repetition of an earlier movement, but alternates between stronger and softer passages (why short of a fully dynamic piano a two-manual harpsichord is required).

Bach was apparently fond of that effect, since the Christmas oratorio (wikipedia) has an extra echo soprano repeating, what the first soprano sung before.

Addressing a comment to the question: The word écossaise, being the French translation of Scottish is unrelated to echo.

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