Courante Sarabande Analysis

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The courante (“running” or “flowing”) was a French dance whose choreography included bending the knee on the upbeat or offbeat and rising on the beat, often followed by a step or glide. The music is in moderate triple or compound meter and always begins with an upbeat. In many courantes, including the two in this suite, the meter shifts back and forth between 3/2 and 6/4, sometimes with different voices simultaneously implying different meters. Although the composer included two courantes in this suite, only the first is performed on the accompanying recording. A reminder that the performer had the discretion to omit dances if he or she so desired. This first courante features some interesting chromaticism, including an unexpectedly dissonant chord in the next-to-last measure of each section: a dominant seventh chord in the right hand over the third of the chord to which it will resolve in the bass. …show more content…
When it spread into France in the seventeenth century, French musicians modified the dance to be slow and dignified in triple meter with a stress on the second beat. The rhythmic figure in the first measure of the sarabande from this suite (a dotted quarter note on beat tow and an eighth leading into the downbeat) is particularly characteristic. In the second half of the dance, Jacquet de la Guerre shifts this figure forward one beat (to the first two beats of the measure). However, since the harmony tends to resolve on the third beat of the measure, as if that were the downbeat, the characteristic sarabande rhythm can still be heard. This device creates an intriguing dissonance between notated and perceived

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