UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The French trio for two dessus and bass 1686-1706 Page, Janet Kathleen


Trios for two treble instrumental parts and bass began to appear in France during the final years of the seventeenth century. Between 1686, when the first trios appeared as movements within Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s "Sonata," and 1706, when the quarrel over French and Italian musical styles had reached its height and Italianate trios had begun to be composed in France, many prominent French composers including Marin Marais, Francois Couperin and Jean-Fery Rebel wrote works for this combination. Taken as a group, these new French trios mirror the musical milieu within which they were composed; some are predominantly French in style, reflecting the continuing strength of French musical traditions in the period following the death of Lully, a few from the end of the period are highly Italianate, showing the influence of the increasingly popular Italian instrumental style, and a number are experimental works of mixed style, reflecting the ongoing discussion of the merits of each style and the attempts of composers to come to terms with the dichotomy between them. In this thesis, the French trio for two dessus and bass is examined from a number of different perspectives. Chapter 1 is an examination of the musical milieu of the trio, including performance traditions and musical thought, through documents and literary sources of the period. In Chapter 2, the French and Italian musical traditions that influenced the new trios are described. Chapter 3 is a discussion of the composers, the sources and the musical style of the new trios. Here the dichotomy between the French and Italian styles serves as the main point of reference, from which elements such as form, terminology, instrumentation, texture, melodic style and harmony are examined. The Appendix contains a selection of trios not available in modern editions. While it is not always possible to establish a direct line of influence for each stylistic element in each trio, many specific links can be shown, and interesting patterns are revealed. Each composer uses a slightly different combination of elements, and the resulting body of works is varied and interesting, illustrating the vitality of French musical life during this period.

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