Embodying the Courante lift
Ex. 1: The initial bars of the Courante in Rebel’s Les Caractères de la danse, (Rebel, 1715)
The Courante is launched directly after the Prelude by an energetic bass transition, which indicates its proud and powerful character:
Ex. 2 & Aud. 1: The bass transition from the Prelude signals the energetic character of the ensuing Courante.
An intuitive musical understanding of these bars would suggest an accumulation of energy on the downbeat, greatly accentuated by a sufficient amount of bow. The rest of the bar is less accentuated, as if coming out of the energy exerted on the downbeat.
A Soundist will mark the downbeat with slow bow speed, and allow the rest of the bar to relax in a diminuendo, slightly releasing the bow pressure. The sonic shape of the downbeats will emulate the grand, majestic gesture in sound.
Ex. 3 & Aud. 2: A Soundist approach applying dynamics and clear articulation in the bowing patterns .
As a Gesturist, I attempt to assimilate the movements of a dancer in my playing body. Rather than translating the lift on the downbeat into a sonic shape, I employ a real physical lift from the floor. The activation of the body-floor relationship gives me the necessary physical impulse that generates the energy for the rest of the bar. The sound-producing action of the bow is thus situated within the context of body movement.
Ex. 4: The Gesturist will execute the lift in the physical context of the body-floor relationship.
Vid. 1: The lift in the Courante is here executed in the context of the body-floor relationship.
As in Section V1 'Mimetic action', the issue of bowing needs to be addressed in agreement with the relevant historical sources. Even though the bowing systems derived from Mozart (1750) and Geminiani (1751) are useful in dance forms as well, the most relevant sources of information specifically related to bowing patterns in French dances are Georg Muffat’s Florilegium primum (1685) and Florilegium secundum (1696). Muffat describes the French style of bowing in Lully’s orchestra from his own experience (read more about the French baroque performance style in Cyr, 2012).