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Despite being in a minor key, the Chacony was probably written as a lively dance. Charles had picked up the French habit of listening to music while standing and tapping his foot, and he emphatically preferred music that gratified his partiality. The piece is based on a descending tetrachord—four consecutive notes of a minor scale, leading from tonic to dominant—which became associated with the lament, a decisive instance being Dido’s lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689). As was usual in England, in the case of the Chacony, the chaconne of the title is used indeterminately, and the word might equally suggest a passacaglia or simply a ground.
from notes by Paul Williamson © 2019
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