Air de cour (Fr.)
- John H. Baron
A term used by French composers and publishers from 1571 to the 1650s to designate many secular, strophic songs sung at court. From 1608 until approximately 1632 these were the most important and numerous vocal compositions in France.
Airs de cour were composed either for four or five unaccompanied voices (a few examples are for six and eight voices) or for one voice usually with lute accompaniment. They were written for the entertainment of the king and his courtiers by the finest composers at court, all of whom were excellent singers. Nearly all airs were published first by the royal printers Le Roy & Ballard, later by Ballard alone, often in series of collections appearing over a number of years. From 1608 a number of airs in these collections were taken from the year's most successful ballets de cour.
In the preface to the first collection of airs de cour...