Topic: Galliard Sonatas and Baroque Practice

Having recently prepared a detailed study of the Six Galliard Sonatas, for study purposes, I am happy to offer the fruits of my labour. (Having attended several Early Music and Recorder Schools, I have been able to glean clarification of Baroque practices to supplement other reading such as Quantz's "The Art of Flute Playing").

While much is objective, occasionally I have indulged in a little subjective comment regarding emotional content (e.g. Sonata 3 Mvt 1 and Sonata 5 Mvt 1).

My comments regarding dance aspects are based on a BBCTV programme of Handel's Water Music performed by musicians and dancers in period costume.

References are made to the NZ Curriculum objectives to place the work in a relevant setting.
There are also interspersed comments on lesson structure to include pedagogical principles.

Your comments , amendments, expansions, questions are most welcome.

If it proves a helpful resource we might encourage members to offer similar analyses / commentaries through this Forum.

Neville Forsythe

Sample Unit Plan Two

Galliard Sonatas and Baroque Style

The Six Sonatas for Bassoon composed by German born composer Johann Ernst Galliard (1687 – 1749) provide an excellent vehicle for exploring a wide range of performance styles and techniques applicable in the wider genre of Baroque Music.

The set contains movements ranging in difficulty from around grade 5 to grade 8 and fits well with the requirements of the NZ NCEA level 2.

At level 1 a single movement or two contrasting movements may suffice as one of two items, and at later levels several movements or indeed a full sonata may provide a work of more sophisticated challenge.

The Student

It is assumed that for the purposes of this Unit, the student will be in year 12 NCEA Level 2. Prior instruction will have provided the student with instrumental skills; range, facility, tone and developing stylistic awareness appropriate to this material.

NCEA Music is a multi-faceted course and this Performance Achievement Standard while focusing on complying with the course requirements, also provides opportunities to complement knowledge in the other Units e.g. musical knowledge, history, harmonic analysis.

Analyse and evaluate the expressive qualities of music and production processes to inform interpretations of music.

The NZ Arts Curriculum Level 7
Communicating and Interpreting Music – Sound Arts
Students will:
• Prepare, rehearse, present, record, and evaluate sustained performances of music, individually and collaboratively, that demonstrate interpretive understandings.
Understanding the Arts in Context
Music – Sound Arts
Students will:
• Research and analyse music from a range of sound environments, styles, and genres, in relation to historical, social, and cultural contexts, considering the impact on music making and production.
• Apply their understandings of the expressive qualities of music from a range of contexts to a consideration of their influence on their own music practices.
Developing Practical Knowledge
Music – Sound Arts
Students will:
• Apply knowledge of expressive features, stylistic conventions, and technologies through an integration of aural perception and practical and theoretical skills and analyse how they are used in a range of music.
Developing Ideas
Music – Sound Arts
Students will:
• Create, structure, refine, and represent compositions and musical arrangements, using technical and musical skills and technologies to express imaginative thinking and personal understandings.
• Reflect on and evaluate composition processes and presentation conventions.

The Galliard Sonatas (as published by Mc Ginness & Marx - despite a few areas of contentious interpretation, I still prefer this edition for its unobtrrusive realisation - sadly no figured bass indications).

The six sonatas are composed in the usual form of the baroque sonata with an opening introductory movement, followed by a succession of contrasting movements, often based on dance forms.

They also provide excellent opportunities to explore baroque ornamentation from cadential and ornamental decoration through to fully developed improvisation on repeats of sections.

At a suitable point the concepts of “figured bass”, (realisations), and improvisation, artistic freedom, responsibility etc should be discussed.

Harmonic analysis also presents many opportunities to reinforce compositional awareness, which may feed into students’ own composition studies and analysis of set works as well as music history elements of Baroque music.

Dance forms can be identified along with performance elements particular to each.

Opening movements are typical of the different ways an introduction can be made – in turn, confident and assured, authoritative and demonstrative, quiet, tender and pleading, affirmative and secure.

Baroque Rhetoric
Several treatises exist which outline the Baroque composers’ fascination with the Greek Classical Period and in particular Rhetoric - a debate presented by a single speaker in which several things must happen:

    Attention of the audience must be attracted to the speaker.   
    Subject for “discussion” must be established.
        Authority of the speaker must be established.
    Proposal must be put – speaker establishes their position.
    Arguments against must be raised, argued and knocked down.
    Speaker reiterates their stance and takes leave.

Sonata 1, Movement 1 Cantabile

The opening movement is a typical example of the slow, stately, assertive style, (which many baroque composers liked to use), to establish the presence and authority of the performer. The dotted rhythms of many editions need interpretation; (Baroque composers did not have notation conventions, such as double dotting, or adding dots to rests). To render the movement pedantically, (as printed), would sound forced and lacking in credibility. Where continuity of rhythmic sense dictates, dots should be used at cadences.

Appoggiaturas also need to be added to all trills, such that the upper note delays the actual start of the trill, by being placed on the beat and taking half the value of the note. Some variant fingerings are necessary esp. D-E, C#-D

Usual aspects, such as observing accidentals and key signatures, need to be monitored from the very first playing, as must use of correct (standard) fingerings for passage work and variant fingerings, to allow the execution of trills. The same applies to dynamic markings, slurs.

The principle of counting in quavers is very helpful and keeps the pace measured.
Speed may be compromised in favour of accuracy and later once all aspects are working correctly, the speed may be increased, if appropriate. Any Italian terms also need to be discussed e.g. Cantabile – in a singing style.

End of Lesson could be used to play the movement through with accompaniment and briefly canvas the second movement Spiritoso e Staccato A Tempo Moderato in 6/8.

Questioning is used throughout the lesson to ascertain student knowledge; leading questions may help in motivating the student to think critically about elements of style and interpretation; e.g. what key is the movement in? (A minor) What is this progression of chords called? (Cadence) Do you know a way to make the rather boring sustained note more interesting to the listener? (Trill) Is there something that might make the trill also more interesting? – We are not just pushing a doorbell! (Maybe delay the start by holding the upper note to create dissonance). Do you know what that “delaying” note is called? (An appoggiatura). Also sound the resolution note at the end of the trill in anticipation of the final note of the cadence.

Sonata 1, Movement 2 Spiritoso e Staccato A Tempo Moderato

Discuss tempo & technique – esp. spiritoso (spirited or lively). Discuss the 6/8 compound duple tempo marking of the movement (in the style of a Gigue)

Introduce the student to the use of trills in a speed situation. Appoggiaturas are still played on the beat but obviously less time is available to stand on the dissonance and no turnout is required especially for ornamental trills. A double turn is all there is time for on the ornamental trills. Bars 15-16 hemiola will need explaining.

The characteristic octave and wider leaps are first encountered in this movement. Variant fingerings are necessary F-G, G#-A.

Sonata 1, Movement 3 Hornpipe a l’Inglese Allegro e Staccato

Discuss title – implications of work-dance – mimicking sailors’ actions in
Pulling up sails, turning capstans etc – rhythmic, powerful, and driving.

Discuss “a l’Inglese” - French for “of the English”. Discuss the use of national dance forms in Baroque sonatas and suites. (Polonaise Gavotte, Sarabande, Rigaudon, Allemande, Menuet, Corrente, Siciliano, Hornpipe, Gigue).

Discuss Technique & Tempo
3/2 time – other examples – Handel’s Water Music
Use of hemiolas bars 13-15 reinforce learning from last lesson.

Sonata 1, Movement 4 Vivace

Time signature 6/4 in the style of a Sicilienne
Fingering variants for G#(R thumb C)-F#(R4B) in bar 26.
Da Capo form requiring three endings. Discuss why three different bars required? (Different follow-on each time, with final bar dropping octave for finality and effect)

Revise all movements of Sonata 1.

Sonata 2, Movement 1 Andante

Time signature 3/2 cf. previous movement in 6/4. Establish through questioning, an understanding of metric pulse. (Previous movement was in compound duple, whereas this movement is in simple triple – albeit with more divisions of the beat than usual)
Discuss significance of rather extended opening accompaniment – solo enters more dramatically and authoritatively at bars 11 - 19, where busier quaver movement adds complexity to the texture while retaining minim beat.
Bars 41-42 example of wider leaps.

“Adagio,” (final 2 bars), is a good example of baroque interpretation where “Adagio” means a decorated florid section (not simply the normally assumed “slow speed”).
Discuss “to play the adagio” – c.f. with modern day jazz improvisation; another way of adding interest to an otherwise potentially boring cadence with trill.
This movement also ends on a dominant chord – not the usual perfect cadence but an imperfect cadence which helps with the segue into the next movement. (Possibly introduce variant fingering for C#-D trill if not playing ornamented passage?)

Sonata 2, Movement 2 Vivace.

This movement in triple time bustles along and is the first of the movements to
Explore the “echo dynamics” in repeating phrases e.g. bars 5-10. A chance to reinforce and assess knowledge of trill execution. Variant fingering D#-E.

Sonata 2, Movement 3 Alla Siciliano Cantabile

An opportunity to discuss a common dance form of lithe gracefulness and elegant
controlled energy. Also a place to discuss dress (in this case of young women,
perhaps members of the household staff). Athletic yet seemly, not encumbered by
voluminous skirts / hoops etc yet still long and flowing / flouncing.
The duple time is to be emphasised in a less boisterous manner than the Gigue (men’s
dance). Reinforce variant fingering from previous movement D#-E.

Sonata 2, Movement 4 Spiritoso ed Allegro

This compound duple movement is more vigorous & masculine – capable of
energetic, high leaps. Maybe lead discussion on the dichotomous relationship between
athleticism, gravity and speed of the music. (The more athletic, the higher the leaps,
the longer in the air, the slower the music will need to be!)
Reinforce echo dynamics. If end of movement 1 of this sonata was ornamented rather
than simply trilled, then variant fingering for C#-D trill may be introduced in bar 34.

Revise all movements of Sonata 2.

Sonata 3, Movement 1 Largo

Largo (broadly) in 8 quaver beat per bar. F major.
Opening movement lends itself to a discussion on commonly held perceptions that different keys have different effects upon the emotions. As an example, this movement has a sincerity of purpose to its statements “I do believe” or “I feel secure and assured of my place (in my family)”. Without being demonstrative this movement expresses understated confidence. The opening bars request, rather than demand, attention.

Bar 3 has a scalic descent, which should be clear but unhurried – divide the descent into 2 semiquaver units of 3 notes followed by the octave descent. Often these realisations are descriptive rather than prescriptive – not to be slavishly counted out and rendered exactly as written. Similarly rubato may be used to move some otherwise dreary passages along, with a sense of artistic awareness. However watch the issue of double dotting, dotted rests etc (as encountered in Sonata 1 movement 3).

The trills in this movement are the first of the set, that suggest a turnout rather than a simple anticipatory note (bar 18, 25, 27?). Discuss artistic choice – informed and conscious, able to be varied and experimented with; above all innovative and fresh rather than slavishly formulaic. Try different styles and note which work and which don’t. Feel free to vary them at whim. Keep the musical experience fresh for the listeners.

Sonata 3, Movement 2 Allegro

This lively movement in 4/4 is similar perhaps to a Rigaudon, yet does not readily identify itself as a dance. With busy semiquaver passagework it is one of the more challenging movements in the entire set. The continuous semiquaver runs can prove quite a daunting aspect to inexperienced players and strategies for practising hard passages may well be worth discussing here. This movement is likely to occupy a full lesson.
Reinforcement of echo effect, trills, appoggiaturas, harmonic analysis. Syncopation bars 6, 13, 31-32, 38-39, 42, and 44.

Sonata 3, Movement 3, Adagio & 4 Spiritoso

Here the Adagio again appears in its common Baroque guise as an ornamented passage (very brief transitional passage from one movement to another). In essence it is an extended cadential passage where the use of the word “Adagio” permits free ornamentation by the performer over the sequence of given chords.

The Spiritoso is again in the style of a Gigue – see comments on leaping dances as they affect motion – a chance to test student recall.
Watch sudden downwards leaps in bars 5 & 22, often played onto (rather than before) the 2nd beat. Again echo passages, trills appoggiaturas etc. 

Sonata 4, Movement 1, Adagio - Allegro e Staccato - Adagio

Opening in E minor, this short movement presents opportunity to discuss options for double dotting, (bars 5&6). This may be a suitable time to introduce simple Adagio ornamentation involving passing notes, runs, turns, and leads.

The Adagio segues into a brisk display of bravura (runs and arpeggios) in G major. It presents an opportunity to discuss harmonic relationships E minor – G major – same key signature – how to identify which? (Leading notes, accidentals, start & finish notes).

Another segue into final Adagio modulates to E min. Double dots and rubato mitigate against boredom and the movement ends with a hemiola. Discuss how to identify hemiolas. (Triple time, cadence, ties over bar line – bars 37-38).

Sonata 4, Movement 2, Allemande A Tempo Guisto

The Allemande is a swift, energetic dance in quadruple time. This particular allemande has the hallmarks of typical bassoon writing with many octave and wider leaps. Double dots again are appropriate (bars 8 & 9, 21 & 22)

Sonata 4, Movement 3, Corrente Spiritoso

From the start, requires decisions on dotting – the very first anacrusis rest, the rest in bar 1, the dotted crotchet in bar 3 (and all subsequent equivalent places), require adjusting so that the semiquaver – quaver movement is maintained throughout.
Echo passages, hemiolas.

Sonata 4, Movement 4, Tempo di Menuet Moderato

Perhaps the most significant movement of the set, in terms of baroque ornamentation.

Published in 4 sections (each repeated) the editor appears to have missed the fundamental point – that sections 3 & 4 are “written out” examples of ornamentation of sections 1 & 2 respectively.

It would be totally inappropriate to play all four sections, each with repeats.

Either play as a da capo (sans repeats) or simply play section 1 followed by 3 (its ornamented version) then 2 followed by 4.

This movement stands as an excellent example of, (and can be used to demonstrate), the basic principles of baroque ornamentation. Passing notes, rhythmic variation (triplets).

Sonata 5, Movement 1 Adagio

This Sonata is mostly in D minor – the opening Adagio being more developed than some others but still ends on an imperfect cadence allowing a segue to the Allegro Spritoso that follows.

The Adagio is perhaps the most introspective and tenderly plaintive of all opening movements in the set of six sonatas by Galliard. Quaver movement is appropriate with a style of sustained legato implied. Small breaks (in the form of rests or commas), add to the intensity of the developing emotional tension. Bar 12 has a particularly poignant moment when the dominant is played in the minor form, plumbing the depths of despair in a single stroke. The following two bars lead to what is ostensibly the perfect cadence of the end – but wait – there’s more – life will get better. We cannot wallow in our sadness but having acknowledged it, can move on.

Sonata 5, Movement 2 Allegro Spiritoso

Takes off from the unfinished previous movement with a drive and energy that builds through progressively smaller note values to virtuosic semiquaver passagework Again echo effects, trills, present opportunity for students to demonstrate growing confidence in these baroque effects.

Sonata 5, Movement 3 Alla Siciliano

Elegant and restrained this short movement could present an opportunity for creating credible ornamentation on the repeats.

Sonata 5, Movement 4 Allegro Assai

In triple time the main feature here is the change to D major – plenty of practice in use of F#. Hemiolas bars 14 -15, 42 – 43. Echo effect. C.f. _ with triplets and 12/8.

Sonata 6, Movement 1, Larghetto

In C major this opening movement echoes Sonata 3’s emotional mood of quiet sincerity. Dotting again is an issue. Triplet semiquavers are encountered for the first time in the six sonatas. Demi-semiquaver run in bar 15 makes sense if counted in quaver beats.

Sonata 6, Movement 2 Alla Breve

This unusual time frame has a stately, yet forward driving sense. Alla breve is not an easy time signature and tied figures, a contrapuntal opening and shifts of melody to successively different parts of the bar complicate this movement.

Sonata 6, Movement  3 Sarabanda

By this movement, more contribution can be expected of the student; ornaments and repeat ornamentation can be explored.

Sonata 6, Movement  4 Menuet alternat

The final movement, of the final sonata, of the set of six sonatas by Johann Ernst Galliard, is a traditional menuet in major and minor settings. With its potential for ornamentation and rendering of hemiolas it is a suitable vehicle to sum up the knowledge gained during study of the set.

An observant student should be able to leave the set feeling confident in approaching Baroque music in an informed and credible way.


We bassoonists have much to thank this relatively minor composer for in leaving us this set of varied and personal compositions, strongly anchored in the practices of the baroque.

It is behoven upon modern musicians, to perform music in an informed and stylistically appropriate manner. While instrumentation has changed (vis piano for harpsichord, modern instruments for baroque instruments), there is no excuse for bad style (trills, appoggiaturas, hemiolas etc).

Information is freely available and plenty of recordings of “authentic” style also exist. It is not enough to lazily wallow in post-romantic versions or even “partially informed” ones such as were made in the 1960 – 80s.

Hopefully this dissertation may go a little way to pricking consciences and provoking deeper exploration of appropriate style (regardless of the period).

Listeners and musicians alike will be the beneficiaries of better performance practice.

Neville Forsythe 2008

I reserve all rights, but permit the use of all or part for study purposes - please acknowledge authorship if presenting material from this document. Please contact for permission to republish for educational use.

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Galliard Sonatas and Baroque Practice

Neville...Thanks so much for this interesting discussion.  I have a few students (a pair of very young girls age 11, and a more mature 16 yr old boy) just starting to study Gailliard Sonatas, and I find this most helpful.  I will probably print a copy of your letter for them to read and think about, and will certainly make a point of discussing many of the points you raise as they learn various movements.

Hope you have a wonderful Holiday season.

Frank Watson, Bassoon
Greenville (South Carolina) Symphony Orchestra
Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra


Re: Galliard Sonatas and Baroque Practice

Epic post Neville.  I will bookmark and read later.  I'm always interested in better/different/authentic baroque performance practice suggestions.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds