Suite: a multimovement form. A collections of compositions associated by a common idea. Thought to originate from practice of arranging dances in pairs. The suite is less standardized than other formal genre.
Dance pairs in 16th and 17th century lute and keyboard music. Contrasting meter, first dance duple, second triple, change of tempo.
Common pairs: passamezzo and saltarello, pavane and gaillarde, allemande and courante, Nachtanz (after-dance), Proportio (duple to triple meters in a 2:3 proportion). Expanded to more movements in the collection.
Suites made up of music from a stage work (opera, ballet), often with a prelude or overture at the head, have a long tradition.
Basic Barogue suite grouping A-C-S-G (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue; optional use of bourŽe and passepied. French dance groups called orderes. Sonata da camera (suite) and sonata de chiesa (sonata). Some concerti grossi have dance movements, sometimes called concerti da camera
Baroque Suites, partitas: binaries, simple ternaries, occasional non-dance movements like airs, intermezzi, rondos, fugues, ostinato forms, preludes. Doubles.
Can be ACS with optional G, ACOSG, ACSOG. Can have an introductory movement (prelude, fantasia, overture). Optional movements might include air, anglaise, bourrŽe, burlesca, cappriccio, gavotte, loure, minuet, passepied, polonaise, scherzo sciliano.
Air (lyric, cantabile, may be ornamented melody); Allemande; BourŽe (in duple meter); Courante ("running," in triple meter); Gavott (offset in meter, duple meter, half-bar anacrusis); Gigue; Minute; sarabande (slow 3/2, 3/4, prolonged second beat).Bach: French Suites (6); English Suites (6); Partitas (6).
See Arbeaut, Orchesography. A Baroque instruction book on dance steps in the form of a catachism. Learning and performing the pattern of the dance steps is the best way to understand the character and tempo of the various dances.
NOTE: Some dances are based upon a characteristic rhythm (ie. the sarabande, the galliard, the gavotte, the pavanne, and more). This rhythm parallels the pattern of the dance step and dance phrase. Learning to dance the old dances is good food for interpretation and insightful performance of accent style, tempo, phrasing.
Examples from Twentieth Century Literature
Can be a collection of dances, character pieces, a collection of pieces related by any theme or idea.
|Music for Theatre|
Music for Dance
Ballets (Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Appalachian Spring)
Red Pony (film suite)
Rounds for Orchestra
Theme and Variations (The Temperments)
The two suites for band
The Planets Suite
Daphnes et chloe, suites 1 and 2
Pictures at an Exhibition
Fountains of Rome
Pines of Rome