Duncombe - Gavot


Gavot is the old English spelling of the French gavotte. It is a French peasant dance of moderately quick duple time and derives from the provencal word gavoto.

The dance is characterised by lively skipping steps.

Pupil Match & Suitability

This is relatively straightforward and will therefore be a popular choice.

It is in C major and lies easily under the fingers, so suitable for all, even the smallest of beginners.

Where there are octave stretches in the LH, they are crotchets and can be lightly detached.

Style & Tempo

The character of the gavot is achieved by lightly detaching the RH crotchets at the start of bars 1 and 2 etc.

The metronome mark of c 100 means circa or roundabout 100, so could be a little slower if necessary.

However, do keep the pulse the same for the crotchets, quavers and triplets, in all 3 sections.

Phrasing & Articulation

Detaching the RH crotchets will help the dance-like character of the piece and if possible, detach the LH as well.

If this is too difficult for your pupil (bars 4-7 and 20-23), just let the LH follow the RH quavers.

Tone & Texture

Although f is indicated in the A sections, this should never sound harsh as Duncombe wrote this piece for a harpsichord or early pianoforte, not a modern day upright.


Bars 15 and 16 are probably the trickiest bit so isolate them and practise the LH g-g jump before adding the RH.


It’s worth following the fingering suggested, especially for the RH A sections, as it helps to keep the tempo flowing and to give the piece a gavot-like skip.

Teaching Strategies

It’s good to be healthy so teach the RH A section rhythm via fruit!

Say/sing the word “pear” for crotchets, “strawberry” for triplets, “apple” for quavers and “plum” for the final minim.

Get your pupils to tap and say the words, play and say the words and play and count the RH.

Duet the RH and LH with your pupil.

Practice Tips

Get your pupil to tap out the RH/LH A section rhythm before playing it.

Ask them if someone could march in time to their playing or would they have to pause and wobble on one leg in some bars. Try it out!

Ask pupils to memorise bars 7/8, 15/16 and 23/24. and then practise these bars eyes open and eyes shut.


Watch out for two common places where things can go wrong:

(i) RH triplet

(ii) an insecure cadence (bars 7/8 and 23/24)

You can always make up some games to reinforce these points.

Duncombe triplets.pdf

Final Performance

An excellent performance will have a secure rhythm, a lightly detached LH with a comfortable flowing RH melody, a constant crotchet = c100 tempo, dynamic contrast in the middle and a stylish ending.

A good performance will have a good consistent tempo, some dynamic contrast and arrive safely at the final chord.

A sound performance will have a moderate tempo and keep going through to the last chord.

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