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date: 19 November 2019

Boutade (Fr.: ‘jest’, ‘whim’)locked

  • Matthew Head


(Fr.: ‘jest’, ‘whim’)

A term variously applied in the 17th and 18th centuries to a lively choreographed dance, a capricious poem, an improvisatory solo for viol and a short fantasia for solo keyboard. Pierre Richelet attributed its invention to Jacques Cordier, a dancing-master during the reign of Louis XIII (1601–43), and explained that, as a dance, the boutade was so called ‘because it began in a somewhat abrupt, lively and startling manner’ (Nouveau dictionnaire françois, 1719). The correspondence of Vincent Voiture (Les oeuvres de Monsieur Voiture, 1734) reveals that the boutade was a popular social dance around the middle of the 17th century. As an improvisatory movement in a suite of instrumental dances, the boutade was cultivated by French viol players of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Examples by Marin Marais, Jaques Morel, Jean-Féry Rebel and Louis de Caix d'Hervelois almost invariably avoid binary-repeat structure and consist of dance rhythms and sequential passages of block chords that may have been elaborated in improvisatory figuration. Such pieces correspond to Mattheson's definition of the boutade as a composition or improvisation ‘bound to nothing but the imagination’ (...

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