The correlations between chaconne and passacaglia have been amply discussed in many writings. Both were originally dances accompanied by guitar, introduced to Europe by Spain, and later became instrumental variation forms over a repeated bass line or harmonic progression. Their close relation—sometimes it is hard to find a line of definition between them—has also been supported by their similar texture, triple meter, character and mood. This would have been a perfect marriage if the chaconne had not had in the past an “affair” with another dance, the sarabande, with whom it shares many pages of its history. In fact, “over half of all references before 1630 mention both [sarabande and chaconne] in the same breath.”
This work will discuss: the origin of sarabande and chaconne in the New World and Spain at the end of sixteenth century as popular sung dances; their development as they spread to Italy through five-course guitar music, where they gradually abandoned the sung part and became instrumental pieces to be played rather than to accompany dancing; the presence of these dances in the French court and stage dance during the seventeenth century; and finally in Germany, whose courts, heavily influenced by French and Italian arts, offered the musical context in which they became part of one of the most important works for violin, Bach’s D-minor Partita.