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Chapman Challenge: What Is a Chaconne?

A portrait of Henry Purcell by John Closterman

KUSC’s Alan Chapman has a lot to say about music, but can he say it in 60 seconds? That’s the Chapman Challenge. We ask a question and Alan has a minute to answer it.

Today’s question is from Emily Stern in Los Angeles who says “I’ve heard you play various chaconnes. What exactly is a chaconne?”

Hit play below to listen to this week’s Chapman Challenge on Arts Alive.

Chapman Challenge: What Is a Chaconne?

The chaconne was a very popular musical form during the Baroque period. Simply put, the chaconne is a piece built on a repeated harmonic progression, a repeated series of chords. As listeners, we enjoy the dependability of that repeated pattern plus the appeal of the variations that unfold above it.

This is a chaconne by Henry Purcell. The first 20 seconds are the first time through the pattern. As you listen, you’ll hear some rhythmic variety, a more active bass line, etc. And so it goes, all built on that same pattern.

That’s today’s Chapman Challenge. Is there a question you’d like to have answered in 60 seconds? Send it to us at [email protected].

Written by:
Alan Chapman
Alan Chapman
Published on 04.01.2019