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Style brisé (French: "broken style") is a term for broken, arpeggiated texture in instrumental music. It usually refers to French Baroque music for lute, keyboard instruments or the viol. French Baroque musicians referred to this type of texture as style luthé ("lute style"), since it originated in lute music. The earliest instance of the term style brisé is found in scholar Lionel de La Laurencie's 1928 book on lute music, Les luthistes. La Laurencie may have simply translated the German equivalent (which was in use since at least the early 18th century) into French.
The defining feature of style brisé is the use of diverse, unpredictable ways of breaking up chordal progressions and melodies. This technique was first used by early French lutenists, and quickly gained popularity in France; La Laurencie speaks of "style brisé of the Gaultiers", referring to Ennemond Gaultier (c.1575–1651) and Denis Gaultier (1603–1672). The first harpsichordists to adopt style brisé textures were Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (c.1601–1672) and Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–1667); after them, virtually all French harpsichordists employed style brisé and it became a defining feature of the lute and harpsichord schools of France.
- Ledbetter, David. "Style brisé", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 2 December 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
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