How To Compose – a Galliard

This post will discuss approaches to writing a galliard.

First of all, a galliard is a dance of the Renaissance era that was developed and now commonly found in the Baroque era suite structure.  The origin of the dance is French and features dance partners doing a fashion of leaps, jumps, and kicks in an alternating left-right pattern.  These factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the galliard.

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

  • Meter: 3/4 or 6/4, but strong pulse pattern of 3 regardless
  • Tempo: moderate, but happily brisk
  • Theme and variation form of AA’BB’CC’
  • Jumpy, dotted, and syncopated rhythms.
  • Begins on the beat
  • Linear, stepwise motion with occasional leaps
  • Varies between homophonic and polyphonic
  • Composed based on this rhythm:

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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