Online Encyclopedia

SUITE (Suite de pieces; Ordre; Partita)

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 52 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SUITE (Suite de pieces; Ordre; Partita), in music, a group of dance tunes, mostly in binary form, of a type which may be described as " decorative " (see SONATA FORMS) ; constituting that classical form of early 18th-century instrumental music which most nearly foreshadows the later sonata. As understood by Bach, it consists essentially of four principal movements with the insertion of one or more lighter movements between the third and the last. The first movement is the allemande, of solid and intricate texture, in slow common time and rich flowing rhythm, beginning with one or three short notes before the first full bar. The second movement is the courante, of which there are two kinds. The French courante is again an intricate movement, also beginning with one or three notes before the main beat, and in a triple time ($) which, invariably at the cadences and sometimes elsewhere, drops into a crossing triple rhythm of twice the pace (I). The effect is restless and confused, and was supposed to form a contrast to the allemande; but it seldom did so effectively. Bach's study of Couperin led him to use the French courante frequently, but he was happier with the Italian type of corrente, which did not owe its name, like the French type, to the use of spasmodic runs, but was a brilliant continuously running piece in quick triple time (4 or 8), forming a clear and lively contrast both to the allemande and to the third movement, which is generally a sarabande. 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 ch'io pianga is a familiar example. Bach's sarabandes are among the most simply eloquent and characteristic of his smaller com- positions. 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 alla 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 bourree, 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,l 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. $, $, , Ise ; but examples in a graver style maybe 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.) SUKHUM-KALEH, a seaport of Russian Caucasia in the government of Kutais. Pop. (1900), about 16,000. It is situated Io6 m. N. of Batum, and has the best roadstead on the east coast of the Black Sea, being sheltered by mountains on three sides and never freezing. In spite of the difficulties of communication with the interior, and the malarial marshes which surround the town, it has become important for the export of grain (chiefly maize). There is also a trade in tobacco. It stands on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Dioskurias. The annual mean temperature is 59° F. There are here a cathedral and a botanical garden. The town was captured by the Russians in 1809, but not formally relinquished by Turkey until 1829. In 1854 and again in 1877 it was occupied by the Turks.
End of Article: SUITE (Suite de pieces; Ordre; Partita)
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