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date: 24 February 2020


  • Richard Hudson
  •  and Meredith Ellis Little


Richard Hudson

One of the most popular of Baroque instrumental dances and a standard movement, along with the allemande, courante and gigue, of the suite. It originated during the 16th century as a sung dance in Latin America and Spain. It came to Italy early in the 17th century as part of the repertory of the Spanish five-course guitar. During the first half of the century various instrumental types developed in France and Italy, at first based on harmonic schemes, later on characteristics of rhythm and tempo. A fast and a slow type finally emerged, the former preferred in Italy, England and Spain, the latter in France and Germany.

The French spelling ‘sarabande’ was also used in Germany and sometimes in England; there, however, ‘saraband’ was often preferred. The Italian usage is ‘sarabanda’, the Spanish ‘zarabanda’.

The earliest literary references to the zarabanda come from Latin America, the name first appearing in a poem by Fernando Guzmán Mexía in a manuscript from Panama dated ...

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