Movement titles

Chamber music pieces are often comprised of several movements and generally those movements have a name or title attached to them.

Often the movements have names that refer to the music tempo. Examples such as Allegro, Larghetto, Andante, Adagio are probably familiar to most. They refer to the speed in which the music is played. Adagio, andante, larghetto are all variations of slow tempos; allegro and allegretto are faster tempos.

Movements aren’t always labelled by the specific tempo. On Tuesday, we will hear the Partita No. 1 in B flat Major by Johann Sebastian Bach played by Arnaldo Cohen. It has 7 movements: Praeludium, Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Menuet I, Menuet II, Gigue. Praeludium is another form of the word Prelude. It can be an introduction to the movements to come. Allemande, corrente, sarabande, menuet and gigue are all different styles of dance music. The allemande is a medium tempo dance with origins in Germany and later France and Britain. Corrente (or courante) is a more upbeat and lively dance from the Renaissance and Baroque time period. Sarabande has Spanish dance ties and is a slower piece. Menuet is also known as minuet and comes from a social French dance. Gigue is an upbeat dance with connections to the British jig.

There are many other types of musical movements. The above is just a sampling of the variety available in classical music. Movements are played together when performing a piece, however, sometimes movements can stand on their own. I enjoy listening to several andante movements by different composers back to back when I want to relax or am having trouble sleeping. Do you have a favourite style?


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