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Some Predecessors of the Instrumental Rondo

Author(s): Helen E. Bush

Source: Bulletin of the American Musicological Society, No. 9/10 (Jun., 1947), pp. 20-21
Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the American Musicological
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(All of the meetings of this chapter were held in

Some Predecessors of the Instrumental Rondo

Helen E. Bush (SE)
(MAY 22ND, 1943)
THE ELEMENTS that contributed to the evolution of the instrumental
rondo are found in both vocal and instrumental music. Since the form
is one that would logically develop from a desire for both unity and
contrast, its essential characteristics are repetition and alternation. The
organized use of repetition is found in early church music, in respon-
sorial psalmody and responsorial chant. In medieval secular music, the
principle of repetition is found in forms belonging to the rondel-type:
the rondeau, virelai and ballade.
Because of phonetic similarity in nomenclature, the I5th-century
French vocal rondeau gives one the occasion to determine what con-
nection there was, if any, between that form and the later instrumental
rondo. Investigation reveals that these two forms have nothing in com-
mon except the element of repetition.
The I6th century for the most part adds little that is new to the
study of the form. But about the end of the century there are interest-
ing developments in France, Italy, and England. In France, the recur-
rence of the rondo idea (as exemplified by the use of repetition) came
to the fore in connection with the vers mesur6. In Italy, the principle
was used by both Peri and Monteverdi in early opera-the former
writing a choral passage that is repeated, alternating with recitatives,
the latter composing an instrumental ritornello that is repeated, alter-
nating with recitatives or choruses.
Up to this point the rondo element has been found only in connec-
tion with music that is purely or partly vocal. The English virginal
composers wrote many themes with variations. The form was copied
by the French clavecinists of the I7th century, but frequently with this
difference,-contrasting sections were introduced. Here we find a type
of purely instrumental music that foreshadows the rondo. The first
French musician to compose themes and variations with contrasting
sections, as far as the author has been able to discover, is Chambon-
nitres. His most outstanding pupils, Louis Couperin and d'Anglebert,
used a similar style in their chaconnes and passacailles.
By the mid- I7th century the foundation work for the instrumental
rondo was fairly well laid, the solidifying of the form taking place in

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France. Probably the composer

for this solidifying is Jean Ba
in an instrumental interlude, d
performed in 1658. Two years
(I66o) appeared an instrumenta
by a "Rondeau pour les mesme
period on, Lully made frequen
instance of the name's being a
without some connection wi
opera Cadmus et Hermione, L
instrumental interlude of cons
deau". The honor of crystallizin
All that now remained to be a
of the form.

Juan Navarro Hispalensis

Gilbert Chase (GNY
(MAY 22ND, 1943)
NOTE: This paper is published

Kurt Huber of Munich

Walter H. Rubsamen (SC)
(JANUARY 22ND, 1944)

NOTE: This paper is published in THE MUSICAL QUARTERLY for

April, 1944.

Musicology and the Teacher

Edward N. Waters (SE)
(APRIL I ST, 1944)

NOTE: This paper is published in the VOLUME OF PROCEEDINGS,

1944, of the Music Teachers' National Association.


NOTE: Owing to war-time conditions, this cha

and 1944.

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