Pavan [pavane, paven, pavin] (It. pavana, padovana; Fr. pavane; Ger. Paduana)
- Alan Brown
[pavane, paven, pavin] (It. pavana, padovana; Fr. pavane; Ger. Paduana)
A court dance of the 16th and early 17th centuries. There are hundreds of examples in the contemporary sources of consort, keyboard and lute music, among them some of the most inventive and profound instrumental compositions of the late Renaissance period.
The pavan was almost certainly of Italian origin. The earliest surviving source for it, Dalza’s Intabulatura de lauto printed by Petrucci in Venice in 1508, contains five pavane alla venetiana and four pavane alla ferrarese, collectively described on the title-page as padoane diverse; both ‘pavana’ and ‘padoana’ are adjectives meaning ‘of Padua’, so the town presumably gave the dance its name. Some scholars, however, have suggested a derivation from the Spanish pavón (peacock) based on a supposed resemblance between the dignified movements of the dance and the spread of a peacock’s tail.
The pavan was similar choreographically to the 15th-century bassadanza; it was sedate in character and was often used as an introductory, processional dance. A useful source of information on the dance is Arbeau, who gave the earliest account (...