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date: 06 June 2020

Courante (Fr.: ‘running’, ‘flowing’; It. corrente; Eng. corant, coranto)locked

  • Meredith Ellis Little
  • , revised by Suzanne G. Cusick


(Fr.: ‘running’, ‘flowing’; It. corrente; Eng. corant, coranto)

A dance and instrumental form which flourished in Europe from the late 16th century to the mid-18th, often as a movement of a suite.

The origins of the courante are obscure; a few examples appeared in 16th-century collections printed by Pierre Phalèse (1549, ‘Currendo’), Sebastian Vredeman (1569, ‘Le courante’) and Emanuel Adriaenssen (1584, ‘courrante’), and in manuscript sources such as the Philidor Collection (i, c1570, in F-Pn). By the early 17th century it was a popular dance in both France and Italy and by the end of the century there were two distinct types: the Italian ‘corrente’, a fast triple-metre dance (3/4 or 3/8), usually in binary form with a relatively homophonic texture, balance phrases, virtuoso performance style and a clear harmonic and rhythmic structure; and the French ‘courante’, a ‘majestic’ and ‘grave’ triple-metre dance, usually in 3/2, characterized by rhythmic and metrical ambiguities, especially hemiola, frequent use of modal harmonies and melodies, and a contrapuntal texture. Examples of both styles can be found together in the earliest musical sources that include the dance where the given names seem not to have implied stylistic distinctions, as both styles are labelled ‘corrente’ in Italian sources and ‘courante’ in Franco-Flemish sources....

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