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.


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