GAVOTTE. A French dance, the name of which is said to be derived from the Gavots, or people of the pays de Gap in Dauphine. Its original peculiarity as a danse grave was that the dancers lifted their feet from the ground, while in former dances graves they walked or shuffled—(Littré). It is in common time, of moderately quick movement, and in two parts, each of which is, as usual with the older dances, repeated. In the original form of the dance the first part consisted of four and the second of eight bars; when introduced as one of the movements of a suite, it has no fixed number of bars. The following is the first strain of the first gavotte in Bach's Suite in D:—
The gavotte should always begin on the third beat of the bar, each part finishing, therefore, with a half-bar, which must contain a minim, and not two crotchets. Occasional exceptions may be found to the rule that the gavotte is to begin on the third crotchet, as, for instance, in that of No. 3 of Bach's 'Suites Françaises,' which commences on the first crotchet, of which, however, it should be noticed that in some editions it is termed an 'Anglaise.' In any case it is not strictly a gavotte. The same may be said of the 'gavotte' in Gluck's 'Orphée,' which begins on the fourth beat of the bar, and should therefore rather have been marked 'Tempo di Gavotta.' A second gavotte frequently succeeds the first as a 'trio,' in the modern sense of that term. This second gavotte is either similar in construction to the first, as in Bach's Suite in B minor ('Französische Ouverture'), or is a Musette
, i.e. founded on a 'drone-bass,' as in the third and sixth of Bach's 'Suites Anglaises.' The position of the gavotte in the suite is not invariable, but it usually follows the sarabande, though occasionally (as in Bach's Suite in B minor above referred to), it precedes it.