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Pavan: Description

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The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn (It. pavana, padovana; Ger. Paduana) is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance).


Origin of term

The origin of this term is not known. Possibilities include the word being

  • from Italian "[danza] Padovana", meaning "[dance] typical of Padua" (as in Bergamask); this is consistent with the equivalent form, "Paduana"
  • or from the Spanish pavón meaning peacock (Sachs 1937, 356),

though the dance was "almost certainly of Italian origin" (Brown 2001).

A pavane is a slow piece of music which is danced to in pairs. The dancers usually step forward, lift up their legs, and point their toes.[citation needed]


The decorous sweep of the pavane suited the new more sober Spanish-influenced courtly manners of 16th century Italy. It appears in dance manuals in England, France, and Italy. The musical pavane survived hundreds of years after the dance itself was abandoned, especially in the form of the tombeau.[citation needed]


  • Slow duple metre (Double Time 2/2).
  • Generally follows the form of A,A1, B,B1, C,C1.
  • It generally uses counterpoint or homophonic accompaniment.
  • Often accompanied by a tabor, according to Arbeau 1967, 59–64) in a rhythmic pattern of minim-crotchet-crotchet (1/2-1/4-1/4) or similar.
  • This dance was generally paired with the Galliard.


In Thoinot Arbeau's French dance manual, it is generally a dance for many couples in procession, with the dancers sometimes throwing in ornamentation (divisions) of the steps (Arbeau 1967, 59–66).

Modern use

The step used in the pavane survives to the modern day in the hesitation step sometimes used in weddings.

More recent works titled "pavane" often have a deliberately archaic mood. Examples include:


  • Arbeau, Thoinot. 1967. Orchesography. Translated by Mary Stewart Evans. With a new introd. and notes by Julia Sutton and a new Labanotation section by Mireille Backer and Julia Sutton. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-21745-0
  • Brown, Alan. 2001. "Pavan". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
  • Sachs, Curt. 1937. World History of the Dance. Translated by Bessie Schönberg. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pavan". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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