Grave (It., Fr.: ‘heavy’, ‘serious’)
- David Fallows
(It., Fr.: ‘heavy’, ‘serious’)
A tempo mark and mood designation. In the early 17th century it had no particular musical meaning: Antonio Brunelli's Ballo grave (1616) and Biagio Marini's Symphonia grave (1617) used it merely as an adjective in the title, and among the Venetian polychoral music of the time the higher and lower choirs were named acuto and grave. But grave appeared as a performance instruction in Cavalli (Le nozze di Teti e Peleo, 1639), Marco Uccellini (Sonate, 1646) and Marini (op.22, 1655). By 1683 Purcell, in the preface to his Sonnata’s of III Parts, could describe it as being current in Italy and elsewhere, saying that it and adagio ‘import nothing but a very slow movement’. Corelli used it for the majority of his slow movements, particularly introductory movements. François Couperin often used gravement (the adverbial form in French), which also appears in J.S. Bach. The theorists show no consistency in their opinion as to whether ...