SUKHUM-KALEH SULCI The sarabande is a slow movement in triple time beginning on the full bar, and with at least a tendency to the rhythm of which Handel's aria Lascia a C ^'* Pi an & a i g a familiar example. Bach's sarabandes are among the most simply eloquent and characteristic of his smaller compositions. Then come the galanteries, from one to three in number. These are the only suite-movements which ever have an alternative section and a da capo (with the exception of Couperin's courantes and the courante in Bach's first English suite). The commonest galanteries are: (i) the minuet, often with a second minuet which is called " trio" only when it is in real three-part writing. It is a little faster than the stately minuet in Mozart's Don Giovanni, but it is never so quick as the lively minuets of Haydn's quartets and symphonies which led to the Beethoven scherzo; and it invariably begins, unlike many later minuets, on the full bar; (2) the gavotte, a lively dance in a not too rapid alia breve time (the textbooks say } time, but there is no case in Bach which could possibly be played so slowly, whatever the time signature may be). The gavotte always begins on the half-bar. A second alternating gavotte is frequently founded on a pedal or drone-bass, and is then called musette; (3) the bourrte, which is not unlike the gavotte, but quicker, and beginning on the last quarter of the bar; (4) the passepied, a lively dance in quick triple time, beginning on the third beat. These dances are not always cast in binary form, and there are famous examples of gavottes and passepieds en rondeau. Other less common galanteries are (5) the loure, 1 a slow dance in | time and dotted rhythm (dactylic in accent and amphimacer in quantity); (6) the polonaise, a leisurely triple-time piece, either a shade quicker or (as in the exquisite unattached examples of Friedemann Bach) much slower than the modern dance-rhythm of that name, with cadences on the second instead of the third beat of the bar; (7) the air, a short movement, quietly flowing, in a more florid style than its name would suggest. It sometimes precedes the sarabande. The suite concludes with a gigue, in the finest examples of which the decorative binary form is combined with a light fugue style of the utmost liveliness and brilliance. The gigue is generally in some triplet rhythm, e.g. f, |, |, \*; but examples in a graver style may be found in slow square time with dotted rhythms, as in Bach's first French suite and the sixth Partita of the Klavieriibung. In gigues in the typical fugato style Bach is fond of making the second part either invert the theme of the first, or else begin with a new subject to be combined with the first in double counterpoint. The device of inversion is also prominent in many of his allemandes and French courantes.
All suites on a large scale, with the exception of Bach's second and fourth solo violin sonatas, begin with a great prelude in some larger form. Bach's French Suites are small suites without prelude. His English Suites all have a great first movement which, except in the first suite, is in full da capo concerto form. His clavier Partitas show a greater variety of style in the dance movements and are preceded by preludes, in each case of a different type and title. Some large suites have finales after the gigue; the great chaconne for violin solo being the finale of a partita (see VARIATIONS).
Handel's suites are characteristically nondescript in form, but, in the probably earlier sets published after what is called his first set, there is a most interesting tendency to make several of the movements free variations of the first. Earlier composers had already shown the converse tendency to make variations take the forms of suite movements. In general Handel's suites are effective groups of movements of various lengths,with a tendency to use recognizable suite movements of a Franco-Italian type.
In modern times the term " suite " is used for almost any group of movements of which the last is in the same key as the first, and of which a fair proportion show traces of dance-rhythm, or at least use dance titles. It is often said that the suite-forms have shown more vitality under modern conditions than the classical 1 The loure of Bach's fifth French suite has in some editions been called the second bourree, to the utter mystification of musicians.
sonata forms. But this only means that when composers do not feel inclined to write symphonies or sonatas they give their groups of movements the name of suite. Certainly there is no such thing as a definite modern suite-form distinguishable from the selection composers make, for use in concert rooms, of incidental music written for plays, such as Grieg's Peer Gynt suites. (D. F. T.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)