How To Compose – a Bourrée

This post will discuss approaches to writing a bourrée.

First of all, a bourrée is a dance commonly found in the Baroque era suite.  The origin of the dance is French. To dance a bourrée, you follow these steps:
bend-rise-step-step, bend-rise-step-step, bend-leap-hold-step, bend-rise-glide

These factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the bourrée.

Here are some critical features that are characteristic of a bourrée:

  • Meter: 2/2, cut-time
  • Tempo: lively and fast
  • Binary form of AB, containing a phrase-period structure within
  • May be followed by a second bourrée, creating a ternary form
  • If A section begins in a major key, it cadences in the dominant where the B section will start and return back to the home major key
  • If the A section begins in a minor key, it cadences in the dominant/relative major where the B section will start and return back to the home minor key
  • Starts on the fourth quarter-note of the measure for each iteration of the phrase
  • Motifs usually have a 3 note pairing cell
  • Polyphonic; however, can be written for a solo instrument
  • Composed based on these rhythms:

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the style before attempting to compose one!  Look into pieces of your favorite composers for inspiration and understanding or direction on how to approach a new work.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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