How To Compose – a Corrente/Courante

This post will discuss approaches to writing a corrente/courante.

First of all, the corrente/courante is a dance commonly found in the Baroque era suite.  The origin of the dance is French, but difference being is that the corrante is the Italian take on the dance with a more lively tempo at 3/4 or 3/8, while the courante is the original French version that is not as lively at a 3/2 meter. Dancers would be fast with their partners; jumping, running, and hopping between the steps while sliding to a new position. These factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the dance.

Here are some critical features that are characteristic of the dances:

  • Meter: 3/8, 3/4, 3/2, 6/4, 6/8
  • Tempo: lively
  • Binary form of AB, with the B section usually longer than the A section
  • 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
  • B section often begins with the transposition of the main theme
  • Begins with an upbeat of an eighth/sixteenth-note
  • Flowing eighth/sixteenth notes supported by a steady bass
  • Can be divided into triplets if desired
  • Homophonic texture
  • Typically features a “hop” in the rhythmic motive or melody
  • Hemiola before cadence
  • Composed based on these rhythms for dance purposes:

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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