How To Compose – a Gavotte

This post will discuss approaches to writing a gavotte.

First of all, a gavotte is a dance commonly found in the Baroque era suite.  The origin of the dance is French and features dance partners facing each other in a line or circle with everyone taking alternative steps to either side.  In addition, there is account of men kissing all the women at the end and reciprocated with the women to all the men.  Regardless of if this is true or not, the motions of how the dancer move are factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the gavotte.

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

  • Meter: 4/4,
  • Tempo: fast
  • Phrase-period structure
  • Begins with an upbeat on the third beat.
  • Flowing pastoral melody; fun and light-hearted
  • Often followed by a musette with a drone bass, that then proceeds to a da capo repetition
  • Polyphonic; however, can be written for a solo instrument
  • Composed based on these 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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