During the Baroque Period, the suite was the most common form used in composition of instrumental music. A suite is a collection of small-scale pieces based on dance forms grouped in a set. In Germany, the baroque suite was known as a Partita.
The Baroque suite is developed around the core of four dances: allemande, sarabande, gigue, and courante. Other popular dances in a suite can include the gavotte, passacaglia, or minuet.
- J.S. Bach:
- G.F. Handel: Water Music
- Arcangelo Corelli: "Allemanda" from Trio Sonata, Op. 4 No. 11
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Allemande: Moderately fast dance in 2/4 or common time, characterized by an upbeat and flowing eighth notes or sixteenth notes.
Sarabande: Slow, stately form in triple time with a slight emphasis on the second beat.
Gigue: A lively and energetic dance of English and Celtic origins. Usually in 6/8 with wide intervals in the melody.
Courante: Literally meaning "running," the courante is a French dance, usually in 6/4 and commonly with bars of 3/2 added, especially towards the end of a phrase. Sometimes this was replaced in a suite by the Italian version, the corrente. This was a faster dance in 3/4.
Below is "Gavotte II" from Johann Sebastian Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G Minor.