My first encounter with the bourrée was via Jethro Tull...

...and their jazzed-up take on J. S. Bach's Bourrée in Em.

Though you can't really hear it in either of these versions, the bourrée is, in fact, a French folk dance, especially associated with the Auvergne and the Massif Central. It exists in two forms – the two time and the three – but it's the three time that particularly excites me.

Whether played on fiddle, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, accordion, banjo or sung, musicians tap out the rhythm with their feet. (The fiddler is Basile Brémaud, should you wish to check him out.)

Trad French players aren't afraid to get a little tripped out...

...because there's something hypnotic about that relentless dang-dagga-dagga, dang-dagga-dagga. It may have started as a dance of flirtation or display, but in the right hands it has become something far more intense.


  1. I've yet to find a borey in three-time but Henry Atkinson [c. 1695] has three in 'two-time' of which this is one:



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