Henry Purcell (b. 1659 place unknown – d. 1695 London) Chacony in G minor On September 10, 1677 (possibly his eighteenth birthday), Purcell took his first adult job, that of composer for the court violin band known as the Twenty-Four Violins, replacing the esteemed Matthew Locke, who had died that August. The G minor Chacony for strings is probably one of the pieces he wrote in his new position. We know little about the work, not even why Purcell called it a chacony rather than a chaconne, the common French title for a piece written over a repeating bass line or ground. The chaconne, originally a dance piece, became a popular musical style or device throughout the Baroque period and was famously used by Bach and Pachelbel.  Purcell’s Chacony is a fine earlier example of this common baroque form, demonstrating a mastery of this popular ostinato variation style, which grows in power and interest with each repetition of the same eight- bar phrase. There are 18 variations in 9 matching pairs over the ground, varying in orchestration or style. The bass line theme is continuously repeated and appears in different voices, not just the bass.  The pairs of variations are distributed throughout the piece, not played consecutively.  By using these devices, as well as disguising the ends and starts of the variations Purcell creates an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours and a musical narrative that makes analysis rather dry.  Certainly the effect is one of great beauty, reflection and melancholy.
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Henry Purcell (b. 1659 place unknown – d. 1695 London) Chacony in G minor On September 10, 1677 (possibly his eighteenth birthday), Purcell took his first adult job, that of composer for the court violin band known as the Twenty-Four Violins, replacing the esteemed Matthew Locke, who had died that August. The G minor Chacony for strings is probably one of the pieces he wrote in his new position. We know little about the work, not even why Purcell called it a chacony rather than a chaconne, the common French title for a piece written over a repeating bass line or ground. The chaconne, originally a dance piece, became a popular musical style or device throughout the Baroque period and was famously used by Bach and Pachelbel.  Purcell’s Chacony is a fine earlier example of this common baroque form, demonstrating a mastery of this popular ostinato variation style, which grows in power and interest with each repetition of the same eight-bar phrase. There are 18 variations in 9 matching pairs over the ground, varying in orchestration or style. The bass line theme is continuously repeated and appears in different voices, not just the bass.  The pairs of variations are distributed throughout the piece, not played consecutively.  By using these devices, as well as disguising the ends and starts of the variations Purcell creates an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours and a musical narrative that makes analysis rather dry.  Certainly the effect is one of great beauty, reflection and melancholy.