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Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Pieces de Clavecin en Concerts

Five suites arranged for two keyboards by Janine Johnson.

This is Rameau's only instrumental chamber work, originally scored for violin or flute, viola da gamba or second violin, and obligato harpsichord.

View sample pages from the first part and second part.
Download and print a PDF file with both parts for the First and Second Tambourins.
Listen to a 12KB MIDI file. This piece is
Jump to Note from the Arranger.
Jump to Note from the Editor.


Part Number of pages
First part book: Claveciniv+43
Second part book: Contre Partieiv+43

Note From the Arranger

Rameau's Pieces de Clavecin en Concert, originally scored for harpsichord, violin, and viola da gamba, are his only chamber compositions for multiple instruments. They are unusual in their frequent assignment to the harpsichord of the most prominent role in the ensemble, rather than relegating it to the continuo function it more commonly served.

Rameau himself suggested arranging these pieces for solo harpsichord, so it also seemed quite natural to arrange them for two. They lend themselves easily to this process, as the violin and gamba parts together provide a natural framework for a second keyboard part. Many passages are simply the instrumental voices transcribed directly for the keyboard. However, often these parts are too sparse to sound well on the harpsichord and additional material needed to be fabricated to create the contre partie. It was my desire in arranging the contre partie to create a second part as challenging to the player as Rameau's original clavecin part (which has scarcely been altered), so that the two harpsichords would be truly equal. The contre partie, therefore, often includes passagework not in the original, but in harmony with the clavecin part and blending to create a richer texture without compromising Rameau's original intent.

I have also added bass lines, chords, and inner voices, but all in keeping with the style and spirit of the original work. I believe the results will be satisfying to harpsichordists who both love this music and enjoy playing together.

Janine Johnson
Berkeley, 1998


Note from the Editor

The guiding principle in preparing this edition was to facilitate performance. This tipped the balance in the otherwise difficult decision to create separate part books rather than a full score. All page turns should be negociable without pause, although some may require a half bar's memorization.

The main musical reference is Rameau's original 1741 publication. It is generally clear and unambiguous, but employs some typographic conventions that differ from modern practice. In a few cases such as metrical indications we follow the original, but more often the notation has been modernized. For example, Rameau used paired symbols and other unfamiliar notations for repeats with and without different endings; here they have been replaced with first and second endings, and "Da capo" and "D.S." respectively for a return to the start or segno.

The musical content of the present clavecin part follows the reference in lockstep, except for the arranger's decision to omit several phrases in the first section of La Pantomime that double the other parts (so with a minor amendment the clavecin part-book could well serve in performance of the original version). However, although Rameau used only treble and bass clefs throughout, for clarity the disposition of notes and clefs between the two staves has sometimes had to be altered. This need basically stems from Rameau's avoidance of the modern use of ledger lines between the staves.

In the clavecin part, to quote Rameau's own notice for the harpsichord, "In progressions using each hand in turn, up-turned stems usually indicate the right hand and down-turned ones the left. If the contrary happens to occur, the performer will clearly see which hand to use." In both parts, if both staves are populated, division of notes between them will generally parallel the suggested division between hands.

Where obviously needed, corrective editorial accidentals have been inserted without comment.

Rameau's beam groupings have been retained insofar as possible, as they sometimes suggests phrasing. Beam multiplicity has sometimes been adjusted to conform with modern practice. Numbers have been included with n-tuplets only to establish a pattern or where needed for clarity, but otherwise omitted to avoid clutter.

Original textual indications are reproduced verbatim, except for the dynamic markings in the instrumental parts, which have been dropped. Text added during editing is enclosed in parentheses. Rameau provided no directions whatsoever for registration. In this regard, the notations ``G.c.'' and ``p.c.'' are applied by the arranger in the contre partie of La Livri to represent lower and upper keyboards respectively. They are suggestions intended to provide proper balance in that particular movement. In general, performers are encouraged to consider the musical character of each section in selecting an appropriate registration.

Don Simons
Redondo Beach, 1988

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