Je danse, J’apprends

Calling this dance movement a French gavotte is probably a bit of a stretch. (Need something French in there somewhere!) Most gavottes are pretty lively, but stately ones aren’t unheard of, and mine definitely falls into that category. Gavottes are also usually in binary form (AB), with each section repeated, but I’ve taken the usual liberties with that — the AB in this case is more like an AA’, since the second part of the gavotte is a thinly-veiled variation of the first. But one characteristic of the gavotte — starting on the second half of the measure, and ending on the first half — is definitely present.

Often the form of a gavotte movement has a second main part, a “musette,” not unlike the traditional trio in a minuet or scherzo found in Classical and Romantic symphonies and chamber works. Musettes often use a pedal point (a repeated bass note). I’ve definitely latched onto that idea, though the pedal point changes as the musette plays.

As usual, this section opens with the percussion (suspended cymbals in this case), playing with some of the rhythms that follow. But I add solo violin and ‘cello fragments, playing a musical idea that appears later in the musette. However, the real star of this movement is the piano, with a lyrical line pitting a triple-against-duple upbeat to the stately main theme. The piano signals the full beginning of the gavotte, and it returns at the end of the movement to help transition to the next.

[The video below is incomplete, stopping about 2/3rds of the way through the musette. There will be a return to the gavotte when complete.]

Go to Dance #4: Reel
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