During the seventeenth century, French composers increasingly tended to group dances by key in a predetermined order, commonly an allemande-courante-sarabande (A-C-S) pattern, which is also found in lute collections. Scholarly opinion has held that the French keyboard dance suite never achieved the standard order of alle-mande-courante-sarabande-gigue (A-C-S-G). Both D’Anglebert and Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre, however, made significant contributions to the stabilization of the keyboard suite by their consistent use of the A-C-S-G order.
An important manuscript source for keyboard music, the Bauyn Manuscript (post 1676), contains numerous A-C-S groupings in various keys.1 Isolated examples of classical suite order are seen in a set by (?) Jacques Hardel (A-3C-S-G) and another by Louis Couperin in C minor (A-C-S-G). The Parville Manuscript (c.1689) is also organized by key groups: prelude, A-C-S, and other dances.
Chambonnières’s two editions of 1670 contain eleven key groupings, most of which follow the A-C-S order. A pavanne sometimes substitutes for the allemande, while some ordres (suites) have no gigue. In two instances a gigue is placed as the second dance of a set. Two suites in Chambonnières’s engraved collections are in reality disguised A-C-S-G order.2 The suite in D minor from the first book contains a gigue entitled only Les Barricades (misnamed a “courante” in the Bauyn Manuscript); and in the second book, the gaillarde from the suite in C major is entitled Sarabande grave in the Bauyn Manuscript (with different barring).
Nicolas-Antoine Lebègue’s first book (1677) contains dances in five key groupings, each headed by a prelude. The first two sets contain pieces in a minor key followed by others in the parallel major key. Although one grouping utilizes the A-C-S-G pattern, little standardization of dance order is found, since not even the A-C-S order is used consistently. Lebègue’s Second livre de clavessin (1687) includes six key groupings that are called Suittes (possibly the first use of this term in clavecin literature), of which two are ordered A-C-S-G.
La Guerre’s recently discovered Pièces de clauessin (c.1687) represents the first known consistent A-C-S-G grouping in French harpsichord editions. Each of the four suites is preceded by an unmeasured prelude (called Tocade in the fourth suite), and each of the gigues is followed by one or more miscellaneous dances. La Guerre’s 1707 book contains two suites also in this order (they are rearranged in the modern edition). The one in D minor opens with an allemande and double (called La Flamande), followed by a courante and double, sarabande, gigue and double in 6/4 time, gigue in 6/8 time, two rigaudons, and a chaconne. The suite in G major is composed of an allemande, courante, sarabande, gigue, menuet, and rondeau.
The order of the four key groupings in D’Anglebert’s Pièces de clavecin is given in Table 1 of Appendix 1. Three of the four groups begin with a prelude, followed by the classical suite order A-C-S-G. Some dances occur in multiples, but the order remains unchanged. The second gigue, which appears at the end of the long set in G major, bears a notation indicating that it is to be played between the first gigue and the gaillarde. The set in G minor has a courante, a sarabande, and a gigue from Lully that are inserted immediately following D’Anglebert’s dances of the same names. Apparently D’Anglebert did not wish to alter the A-C-S-G order by placing these dances by Lully at the end of the key grouping with the other transcriptions. Each of D’Anglebert’s gigues is followed by a gaillarde (called Tom-beau in one instance) and miscellaneous dances.
Earlier(C.1660S-1670S), D’Anglebert’s autograph manuscript presents evidence of his intent to group dances in an A-C-S-G order, since the C major and G major pieces are placed in this order (see Appendix 1). The other key groupings are incomplete. Numerous leaves were left blank, to be filled in at a later date. The middle of the manuscript reads as follows (only D’Anglebert’s pieces are in his own hand):
|No. 18||Chaconne du Vieux Gautier in C major (transcription by D’Anglebert)|
|No. 19||Three pages with the Air de M. Lambert (for voice and figured bass)|
|One blank ruled page|
|Three pages giving the letter names of notes on the treble staff and figured bass exercises|
|One blank ruled page|
|No.19a||One page with a fugue fragment for keyboard|
|One leaf cut out|
|Four blank ruled pages|
|No.19b,c,d||Three pages, each with a melodic line that uses only a part of the page|
|No.19e||Two pages with an untitled keyboard piece|
|No.20||D’Anglebert’s Gaillarde in A minor|
|No.20a||Three pages with a gigue-like keyboard piece|
|One blank ruled page|
|No.20b||One page with a melodic fragment|
|Seven blank ruled pages|
|No.21||Variations in D minor by D’Anglebert|
|No. 22||O beau jardin|
|No.22a||Double by D’Anglebert|
|No. 23||Prelude in D minor by D’Anglebert|
|Two blank ruled pages, but with “Allemande.” inscribed at the beginning by D’Anglebert, indicating that he intended to fill these pages.|
|No.23a||Four pages with a melodic line in rough draft with numerous cross-outs. The last part of the title, “Courante” (in D’Anglebert’s hand) is written over “Concerto” (?).|
|No.24||Sarabande in D minor by D’Anglebert|
|No.23a||Two pages with a continuation of No.23a, marked “presto”|
|Five leaves cut out between the above two pages|
|No.25||Courante du Vieux Gautier in D minor (transcription by D’Anglebert)|
Thus the blank pages and missing leaves occur as follows: 20 pages between Nos.18 and 20, twelve pages between Nos.20 and 21, six pages between Nos.23 and 24, and twelve pages between Nos.24 and 25. The blank pages and miscellaneous pieces and fragments in other hands appear in the middle, while there are substantial uninterrupted sections of D’Anglebert’s work at both the beginning and the end of the manuscript. When his normal practice was to write a whole set of pieces in one key, why is there but one piece in A minor? Perhaps D’Anglebert planned to have his pieces appear in classical suite order. Since a gaillarde normally followed a gigue, he left sufficient blank leaves before the Gaillarde in A minor to accommodate a prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue (as well as doubles and additional courantes) in the same key. The leaves following the Gaillarde could have been intended for yet other pieces in A minor.
A similar situation exists at No.23, where it appears that D’Anglebert is beginning a suite in D minor. The Prelude is followed by two blank pages with the heading of “Allemande.” in his hand (the title of “Courante” at No.23a—which is partially written over—is also in his hand). He then left space in order to accommodate a courante and its double, or perhaps a second courante (these four pages, in another hand, were added later). After his Sarabande at No.24, he again left several leaves for a gigue and perhaps other dances. Thus it is entirely possible that D’Anglebert’s plan for this manuscript included four complete prelude-allemande-courante-sarabandegigue suites: the existing ones in the keys of C major and G major, plus two that are incomplete in A minor and D minor. D’Anglebert’s placing the miscellaneous transcriptions in G minor from Lully at the end of the manuscript, following his own Prelude, suggests that his desire to include them superseded his original plan for his own pieces, since he was running out of space.
Three previously unknown pieces by D’Anglebert (alluded to in the Preface to his edition) have recently been discovered in an English household manuscript bearing the title “Mary Rooper her Booke” (“Elizabeth Roper: her Booke 1691” is written at the end): Courante, Sarabande (with double), and Gigue in A minor. Blank leaves before the Courante suggest that an allemande was planned. Since D’Anglebert’s autograph manuscript contains only one piece in A minor (the Gaillarde), preceded by many blank leaves, it seems likely that these dances in the Roper Manuscript were designed to accompany it. Thus the existence of the dances in A minor gives weight to the view that D’Anglebert planned his manuscript to contain four A-C-S-G suites and that he was the first claveciniste to use this order consistently.
After D’Anglebert, French keyboard music shows little observance of this standard suite order. Louis Marchand’s two suites (1702-1703) follow it, but Gaspard Le Roux’s works (1705) continue a general adherence to an A-C-S pattern, with no consistency as to the use and location of the gigue. L.-N. Clérambault’s 1er Livre de pièces de clavecin (1704) provides an example of classical suite order by afterthought. Notations on pp.15 and 16 with the Augmentation de la Suitte en C. sol ut b.mol state that this piece is a “Prelude that must be played before the Allemande” and “The Courante and the Sarabande must be played before the Gigue, immediately after the Allemande.” Charles (François?) Dieupart, who emigrated to London, used the following order in his c.1705 Amsterdam edition of the Six suittes de clavessin: overture, allemande, courante, sarabande, gavotte, menuet or passepied, and gigue. Rameau did not use the A-C-S-G order in his books, and François Couperin employed it only in his fifth ordre.
The classical suite order favored by D’Anglebert, La Guerre, and Marchand was short-lived in French keyboard music, for the new century brought a decline in the use of the traditional dance forms and an increased popularity of character pieces with descriptive titles.