Thoinot Arbeau

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Thoinot Arbeau
Jehan Tabourot

March 17, 1520
DiedJuly 23, 1595(1595-07-23) (aged 75)
Les Petits Chanteurs de Passy sing the pavane Belle qui tiens ma vie of Thoinot Arbeau

Thoinot Arbeau is the anagrammatic pen name of French cleric Jehan Tabourot (March 17, 1520 – July 23, 1595).[1] Tabourot is most famous for his Orchésographie, a study of late sixteenth-century French Renaissance social dance. He was born in Dijon and died in Langres.

Orchésographie and other work[edit]

Orchésographie, first published in Langres, 1589,[2] provides information on social ballroom behaviour and on the interaction of musicians and dancers. It is available online in facsimile and in plain text. There is an English translation by Mary Stewart Evans, edited by Julia Sutton, in print with Dover Publications. It contains numerous woodcuts of dancers and musicians and includes many dance tabulations in which extensive instructions for the steps are lined up next to the musical notes, a significant innovation in dance notation at that time.

He also published on astronomy: Compot et Manuel Kalendrier, par lequel toutes personnes peuvent facilement apprendre et sçavoir le cours du Soleil et de la Lune et semblablement les festes fixes et mobiles que l’on doit célébrer en l’Eglise, suyvant la correction ordonné par notre Saint Pére Grégoire XIII [...Calendar, by which all people can easily learn and know the course of the Sun and of the Moon and similarly, the festivals with fixed and moveable dates which one celebrates in Church, according to the correction ordained by our Father Saint Gregory XIII], Langres: Jehan des Preyz, 1582, (cited in Mémoires de l'Académie des sciences, arts et belles-lettres de Dijon, I (Dijon: Académie de Dijon, 1924), 107).

Thoinot Arbeau was translated into English as Orchesography by Cyril W. Beaumont in 1925, and in a modern edition in 1967.[clarification needed]

The pavane "Belle qui tiens ma vie" was arranged by Leo Delibes for his incidental music for Victor Hugo's play "Le roi s'amuse". Other sections were arranged or quoted by Saint-Saens (in the "ballet" from Ascanio) and Peter Warlock (in his Capriol Suite)

"Branle de l'Official" provided the tune for the 20th century English Christmas carol "Ding Dong Merrily on High".


  1. ^ Viard, Georges: "Jean Tabourot, Chanoine de Langres et Maître à danser (1520–1595)", in: Viard, Georges: Jean Tabourot et son temps, Langres:[full citation needed] 1989, pages 11–57.
  2. ^ The title page's "Extraict du priuilege" is dated "Novembre 1588".

Further reading[edit]

  • Kendall, G. Yvonne. 2001. "Arbeau, Thoinot". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External links[edit]