Le Roy: Pavane and galliarde "de la gambe"

Le Roy: Pavane and galliarde "de la gambe" Revised version 28 Sept 2019

It was the fashion of the period (mid-16th century) to follow a pavane with a galliard on (approximately) the same theme.

Facsimile of the first page of the Pavane. 

I am not sure what “de la gambe” in the title refers to. I think gambe in 16th century French means “leg”, but apparently it was also an abbreviation of viola de la gambe (viola da gamba in Italian) just as we use “cello” to refer to the violoncello. Mysterious.

EGA1 (see “Sources” below) points out that the harmonic ground for both pavane and galliard is a modified Folia progression:
         V    i    VII    III    III    VI    V  

You can read more about harmonic grounds in this post.

The Pavane

The pavane is written in two sections of 16 and 32 bars, each of which can be divided into lines of 8 bars, which are indicated in this score by double barring. Contrast this with the previous posting, a fantasy, which is much more free-form.

This piece is strongly chordal, so I feel no qualms in presenting the “modern” chord names. The  harmonies in the variations vary slightly from those in the statement.

You will recognise the chord shapes, and get a lot of practice in jumping to a B♭chord in 3rd position. Indeed, the bars with Gm, F, B and E♭chords can mostly be played at a fret-3 barré. 

| D     | D     | D     | D     | Gm    | Gm    | F     | F     |
| Bb    | Bb    | F     | F     | Eb    | Eb    | D     | D     |

| Gm F  | Bb    | F     | Bb    | F     | Eb    | D     | D     | ×2
| Gm F  | Bb    | F     | F     | Eb*   | D     | G     | G     ⫿ ×2

* or Ebsus2 or Cm

Le Roy presented the piece as a first statement of the two sections (A, B), followed by variations of the two sections involving divisions on the statement in some bars only (A’, B’). You might want to play them in the order A, A’, B, B’.

The first note in the upper voice in bar 10 and similar bars is not shown in the original, implying either an extension of the previous note or a rest. The former option is difficult to perform, so I have opted for the rest, even though for a stately pavane I would have preferred a smoother upper voice and less syncopation.

The Galliard

This piece is not merely a transformation of the pavane into 3/4 time. The statement of the theme in §A is reduced from 16 to 8 bars, with repetition, but maintains the original idea. In §B the structure is less rigid, and the harmonies – although belonging to the key of Gm – are much freer and more unexpected than simple substitutions of related harmonies (e.g. B♭for Gm).

The variations keep closely to the original statements, but involve some rapid divisions which you may want to simplify or shorten. A precaution is to take the (simpler) earlier bars at not too fast a rate.


Transcribed from the original tablature of: Premier livre de tabulature de guiterre, contenant plusieurs chansons, fantasies, pavanes, gaillardes, almandes, branles, tant simples qu’autres le tout composé. par Adrian le Roy. Paris, 1551. ff  11 – 13.
Facsimile online at: https://repository.royalholloway.ac.uk/items/36992e38-4a04-c705-affa-253d7b309c67/1/
(Permanent link: http://purl.org/rism/BI/1551/23)

Having transcribed these pieces from the Renaissance guitar facsimilie above, I was informed by
1. Keith Calmes: Guitar music of the 16th Century, 2008, Mel Bay Publications, and
2. Charles Wolzien & Frank Bliven: Early Guitar Anthology, I, The Renaissance, c.1540-1580” [EGA1], available to download here:


The arrangements are available for free download in the following formats:


  • pdf
  • TablEdit
  • MIDI


  • pdf
  • TablEdit
  • MIDI

Tags: #galliarde #gambe #pavane

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