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The gavotte or gavot originated in the dance of the Gavots, or men of the Pays de Gap, who inhabited a town of that name in Upper Dauphiné, in France. About that period, as a social dance, it was very much used. A celebrated contemporary of Händel named Mattheson (1681-1764), says, with reference to the gavotte, “ the expression should be that of a right jubilant joy;" the "jumping” movement is a particular feature of it, and by no means the "running." All gavottes are not accompanied by the musette, the peculiarity of which is, that the fundamental or “ drone bass” never changes, thus imitating the quaint, monotonous sound of the bagpipe; but the addition of the musette affords variety, thus relieving a composition, which may have to be constantly repeated, of a monotony, which after a time, would otherwise become somewhat tiresome. Cotgrave calls the gavotte a kind of brawl, danced commonly by one alone. Arbuthnot and Pope in Martinus Scriblerus remarks: “The disposition in a fiddle to play tunes in preludes, sarabands, jigs and gavots, are real qualities in the instrument." Littré says its original peculiarity as a danse grave was, that the dancers lifted their feet from the ground, while in former danses graves they walked or shuffled. The gavotte must begin on the third beat of the bar, and finish with a half bar.
The musette which may be called a second gavotte, is generally similar in construction, and although differing somewhat in form for the sake of variety, should be built up as far as possible on the central idea of the first gavotte. The best known illustration of a gavotte with a musette founded on its opening phrase is that by J. S. Bach in G minor, said to have been written in the period 1685-1750. For the sake of variety the musette is written in the major key, which is a great relief to the ear, especially when the carefully marked nuances are attended to by the player. Among those who have left specimens of this class of composition behind them are Arcangelo Corelli, 1653-1713, Johann Baptist Loeillet, François Couperin, Jean Philippe Rameau, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Friedrich Händel, Jean Marie Leclair, Martini, J. Exaudet, Gluck, Kirnberger, and others who flourished and enjoyed greater or less renown from the date mentioned down to the beginning of the last century.