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Sarabande: Description

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In music, the sarabande (It., sarabanda) is a dance in triple metre. The second and third beats of each measure are often tied, giving the dance a distinctive rhythm of quarter notes and eighth notes in alternation. The quarters are said to corresponded with dragging steps in the dance.

The sarabande is first mentioned in Central America: in 1539, a dance called a zarabanda is mentioned in a poem written in Panama by Fernando Guzmán Mexía.[1] Apparently the dance became popular in the Spanish colonies before moving back across the Atlantic to Spain. While it was banned in Spain in 1583 for its obscenity, it was frequently cited in literature of the period (for instance in works by Cervantes and Lope de Vega).[2]

Later, it became a traditional movement of the suite during the baroque period, usually coming directly after the Courante. The baroque sarabande is commonly a slow triple rather than the much faster Spanish original, consistent with the courtly European interpretations of many Latin dances. This slower, less spirited interpretation of the dance form was codified in the writings of various 18th century musicologists; Johann Gottfried Walther wrote in his Musicalisches Lexicon (Leipzig, 1723) that the sarabande is "a grave, … somewhat short melody," and Johann Mattheson likewise wrote in Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (Hamburg, 1739) that the sarabande "expresses no passion other than ambition".[3]

The sarabande form was revived in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by composers such as Debussy and Satie and, in different styles, Vaughan Williams (in Job) and Benjamin Britten (in the Simple Symphony).

In 1976 ex-Deep Purple organist Jon Lord based his album Sarabande entirely on the concept of a baroque dance suite. Performed by the Philharmonia Hungarica and a selection of rock musicians (including Andy Summers on guitar, who would later join The Police), the album mixes classical and rock influences.

One of the best-known sarabandes is the anonymous La folie espagnole whose melody appears in pieces by dozens of composers from the time of Monteverdi and Corelli through the present day.[citation needed]


Sarabande from Handel's D minor Keyboard Suite

The fourth movement Sarabande of George Frideric Handel's Keyboard suite in D minor (HWV 437) for solo harpsichord achieved modern popularity when an orchestrated version was used by Stanley Kubrick for his 1975 film Barry Lyndon.[4] Later, Brian De Palma featured the same orchestration as the overture for his 2007 film Redacted. Also, in another direct reference to Barry Lyndon, Michael Winterbottom included this sarabande in A Cock and Bull Story in a new arrangement by Michael Nyman.[citation needed] It was also used in the BBC series Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'.[citation needed]

The Theme of Handel's Sarabande is a variation of La Folia, one of the oldest remembered European musical themes on record.

Other sarabandes

The sarabande inspired the title of Ingmar Bergman's last film Saraband (2003). Each of Bach's cello suites contains a sarabande, and the film uses the sarabande from his fifth suite, which Bergman also used in Cries and Whispers (1971).[5] The sarabande from the second Bach suite serves as the primary theme in Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly (1961).

The Swedish alternative rock band ALPHA 60 has a song called Sarabande, as does British electrostring group Escala on its debut album.

Yngwie Johann Malmsteen's Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E minor contains a piece called Sarabande. It draws influences from the original, fast Spanish sarabande. Also the soprano Sarah Brightman has made her own version, putting on her voice. She named it "SarahBande".


  1. ^ "Richard Hudson: "Sarabande", New Grove Online (subscription access)". Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  2. ^ Richard Hudson and Meredith Ellis Little, "Sarabande: 1. Early Development to c1640", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers; New York: Grove's Dictionaries of Music and Musicians, 2001).
  3. ^ Johann Sebastian Bach, The French Suites: Embellished version (Kassel: Barenreiter[citation needed] |archivedate = 2006-03-25}}
  4. ^ Ingmar Bergman Saraband - Sources of inspiration

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sarabande". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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