Badinage, badinerie (Fr.: ‘jest’, ‘piece of fun’, ‘trifle’)
- Erich Schwandt
A term applied to suite movements of a playful nature. The titles ‘badinage’ or ‘badinerie’ first appeared in the early 18th century; they have no precise musical meaning but rather suggest a mood, jocular, frivolous or bantering.
The most well-known badinerie is the final movement of J.S. Bach’s Suite no.2 in B minor bwv1067. Rhythmically, this movement has much in common with the gavotte: it begins with a half-bar, the first phrase is eight beats long (the crotchet is the beat), with a caesura after the fourth and a point of repose on the eighth; the phrases are later extended. It is in 2/4, faster in tempo than an ordinary gavotte.
Telemann included a badinage in the orchestral suite in his Musique de table, iii (1733); the suite includes dances as well as character pieces with French titles. His badinage is based on gavotte rhythms: it is in common time, marked ‘très vite’. The piece uses drone basses and alternates with a trio. The third cantata of Montéclair’s first book is entitled La badine, and opens with an air in 2/4, in gavotte rhythm. The opening words give an idea of the cantata’s bantering nature: ‘The ever sighing lover makes me sigh with boredom’. Several 18th-century harpsichord collections include pieces entitled ‘badinage’ or ‘badine’ (see B. Gustafson and D.R. Fuller: A Catalogue of French Harpsichord Music, 1699–1780, Oxford, 1990).
Examples of the badinage in the 19th and 20th centuries are few. Lyadov’s Musical Snuffbox op.32 is subtitled ‘Valse-badinage’. Godowsky, in his Studies on Chopin’s Etudes, combined the two G♭ études into a piece he called ‘Badinage’ – ‘a polyphonic joke’. Prokofiev included a badinage or shutka (‘little joke’) in his piano pieces of op.3.