Music in History

Go to content

Main menu

Suite

Baroque forms
 
 

  


Suite

 


The suite is an  important instrumental form of Baroque music. It consists of a number of pieces.  Each of them  has a like- dance character and  they are all written in the same tone.

The evolution of suite before J. S. Bach

As Willi Apel indicates, the development of suite during  Bach's time  is an interesting example  of how several  traditions and many  music styles  of different countries may  contribute  and cooperate with each other.
One could claim that the origins might be found  at the  combination of  2 dances,  one in duple time  and one in  triple, for example:  "pavane-galliard".  These two  dances had been very popular throughout the 16th century. Also  important are the combinations of 3 or more dances that were played one after the other in a specific order, for example: Pavana-saltarello-piva. Such combinations are found  mainly in Italian lute books of the 16th century . Let's take fot example the work of Joan Ambrosio Dalza. In this case,  dances are arranged in miniature suites). After 1600,  German composers also  wrote their books using combinations of dances. Each of those composers had found his  own  order (eg: Paduana- Inrada-Galiarde, or: Pavana-Galiarde-Courante-Allemande- Tripla). Paul Peuerl' s work, for  example, was significant and influential during those times.This idea of the suite as a unified musical form  does not exist between French composers  Their dances were simply arranged  based on the genres, that is, there were several types allemand, courant, etc. Later, they were based on  tonality.  For example, a suite could include 5 allemandes, 11 courantes, 4 sarabandes, 2 gigues, 5 courantes, 1 chaconne, all written in C major. An example of such a loose set  of dances  is found  in the works for harpsichord of Francois Couperin (edition 1713-1730).  Couperin avoided the term "suite". Instead, he used  the term "ordre"  which probably was in use by  earlier French musicians.
The significant contribution of French harpsichord musicians in evolution of suite was to transform the form of allemande, courante, gigue and sarabande from that of the 16th century. They also enriched the repertoire with dances that were included at the beginning of 18th century in the optional part of suite.

JJ Froberger (1616-1667) was the creator of classical suite. He  was born in Stuttgart A part of his training was taken  in Rome and a large part of his life was spent in France. Froberger  enriched  the German "renaissance" suite with stylistic perceptions of the French Baroque.
Around 1650 the prominent type of  suite had 3 parts: Allemande-Courante-Sarabande. Gigue was introduced later as an  optional dance, either before or after the Courante. Sarabande maintained its position at the end of the work. The order  was set like this: ACGS or AGCS. After Froberger's death, the position of Sarabande and Gigue was changed.  One may see this in the first editions of the assemblies, published posthumously, in 1693. There is a  note: "mis en meilleur ordre" (arranged in better order). The schema was: A-C-S-G. Additional  examples of this  schema may be found in the suites of Georg Böhm (1661-1733).
The development of suite was completed with the addition of the optional prelude and dance (Minuet, Gavotte, Bouree etc).



resources
1.Willi Apel,Harvard dictionary of music, second edition, eighth printing, suite
2 Comon 16th century dance forms
3. Dances of the late Renaissance (16th century)

Back to content | Back to main menu