From Cunnan
Jump to navigationJump to search

The galliard is a lively dance performed in 6/8 time, with a distinctive rhythm (stresses on beats 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1/2 and 6, as in God Save the Queen). Although created as a dance form, it was also used as a form for purely instrumental music, with musicians from France and England offering several different galliards in almost every instrumental book of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. As both a dance and instrumental piece, the galliard traditionally followed a pavan.

Arbeau on the Galliard

Arbeau writes that the galliard is also called a five step, and is a "quick and gay dance" most suitable for young folk. It is closely related to the tourdion which can be considered a smaller and faster form of Galliard.

The dance begins with a gentleman holding a lady by the hand. He reverences to her and the dance begins. The pair circle the room, dancing gently (tourdion fashion) or else simply walking, and then the lady dances away alone. The gentleman, now free to perform more boisterous kicks, follows untill he stands in front of the lady. In this position he can exhibit his most elabourate and boisterous steps for the lady and audience, and he turns once per six-count bar as he does these steps.

The galliard consists of four steps, whose composition varies, followed by a saut majeur and posture. This is accompanied by music with six beats, although normally the 5th beat may be a rest.

In the discussion below, brief tranlations of the dance steps will be given, but the step descriptions (linked) give more intricate detail of the movements.

Arbeau suggests the following step sequence for a galliard:

  • grève gauche - high kick left (forward with left foot)
  • grève droite - high kick right (forward with right foot)
  • grève gauche - high kick left
  • grève droite - high kick right
  • saut majeur - high jump
  • posture gauche - left foot some distance in front of the right, both with soles flat to the floor, front foot pointing forwards, back foot diagonally sideways. Legs are not bent very deeply, and weight is on both feet.

This is followed by repeating these steps, beginning on the opposite foot, and then beginning on the the left foot again. For the variations, Arbeau has the steps begin to the opposite side from the above instructions. The sequence of five steps (the saut majeur isn't counted) is continued, with variations, for the duration of the music. Arbeau appears to prefer that two five steps', ie one starting with each foot, are completed before choosing a new variation, or repeating the variation.

some variations suggested by Arbeau