Gavotte, by P. Martini

A gavotte is a French dance dating back to the late 17th Century. In this piece,  most of the time, the first violin has the melody.  The First Violine usually is the domineering force in string quartets.  But occasionally other instruments take on the melody, almost as if the melody was being passed from one person to another.  One example is in the second measure when the viola uses its 8th notes to keep the melodious phrase from ending.

Minuet, by J.S. Bach

A minuet is a French dance in ¾ time at a moderate pace.  Johann Sebastian Bach (born in 1685)  was one of the most prolific composers and his work covers every form of music of his time, except for opera.  Church and organ music of his time deeply influenced his instrumental music.  In this piece, at the end of the first phrase, or measure 7, the composer uses what is known as a grace note.  These quick notes are used as ornamentation to highlight the “grace” of the musician.

Gavotte in G minor, by J.S. Bach

This piece has a D.C. al fine.  This means that at the end of the piece, the quartet must repeat the first half after they have reached the end.  Composers can use this tool for a sense of resolve to the audience.

Humoresque, by Antonin Dvorak.  Born in 1841, this well-known Czech composer melded Czech folksong with the styles of his contemporaries such as Brahams.  He had a genius for melody.  In this piece, you will hear a key change.  In this case, the shift is from D major to D minor.  This change is supposed to convey a mood change that the composer wishes to express to the listener.

Gavotte, by Jean Becker.  Becker was German, born in 1833.  He was a violist and led and founded the Florentine Quartet.  The theme here is exposed in the beginning of this piece.  Later, at the key change, the theme is changed so it is an ascending pattern instead of the descending pattern at the beginning of the piece.  Variations of the theme are often used to keep the attention of the listener.

Gavotte in D Major, by J.S. Bach.

Sometimes instruments must play a monotonous series of notes that can be boring when played alone.

But these roles are the most important because the keep the rhythm for the other instruments.  Without these players, the team is not complete and the first violin cannot make music. 

Bourée, by J.S. Bach.  A Bourée is a French dance in brisk duple time and originated in the 17th century.  Duple time occurs when each measure has a multiple of two beats. Our First Violinist finds that it is sometimes difficult to play three notes at once.  The bridge of the violin is shaped in such a way that much more pressure must be applied to play the notes.  Therefore, he uses the advanced technique of “rolling” the chord.  He plays only two notes at a time, but rolls the bow so that it almost sounds like three notes are being played simultaneously.  Listen for this in the second measure, and throughout the entire piece.

Canon in D, by Johann Pachelbel. The canon in D, written in or around 1680, is the most recognized piece of Johann Pachelbel. It has light, gentle grace. Pachelbel was a great organist-composer of this day, and a contemporary of Bach. His church music is innovative because it creates meanings through linking repeated notes and phrases. Pacelbel was born in Nuremberg, Germany in August 1653. Besides being a composer, he raised a family of musicians and artists.


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