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The estampie (French: estampie, Occitan and Catalan: estampida, Italian: istampitte) is a medieval dance and musical form which was a popular instrumental and vocal form in the 13th and 14th centuries. The name was also applied to poetry (Bellingham 2002).

Musical form[edit]

The estampie is similar in form to the lai, consisting of a succession of repeated sections (Bellingham 2002). According to Johannes de Grocheio, there were both vocal and instrumental estampies (for which he used the Latin calque "stantipes"), which differed somewhat in form, in that the vocal estampie begins with a refrain, which is repeated at the end of each verse (Page 2012); also according to Grocheio, the repeating sections in both the vocal and instrumental estampie were called puncta (singular punctus) (Hiley 2001), in the form:

aa, bb, cc, etc..

The two statements of each punctus differ only in their endings, described as apertum ("open") and clausum ("closed") by Grocheio, who believed that six puncta were standard for the stantipes (his term for the estampie), though he was aware of stantipes with seven puncta (Hiley 2001); the structure can therefore be diagrammed as:

a+x, a+y; b+w, b+z; etc..

Sometimes the same two endings are used for all the puncta, producing the structure

a+x, a+y; b+x, b+y, c+x, c+y, etc.. (Wolf 1900, 98)[1]

A similar structure was shared with the saltarello, another medieval dance.

The earliest reported example of this musical form is the song "Kalenda maya", written by the troubadour Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1180–1207) to the melody of an estampida played by French jongleurs (McGee 2012)[not in citation given]. "Two poetry treatises describe the estampie as a poetic and musical form, and a music treatise provides details about it as both a vocal form and an instrumental dance" (McGee 2012). Fourteenth-century examples include estampies with subtitles such as "Isabella" and "Tre fontane" (McGee 2014, 8–15). Non-estampie dances found in Br. Lib. Add 29987 include dance pairs such as "Lamento di Tristano" and "La Manfredina" (each paired with a following "rotta"), and Dança amorosa (paired with a following "troto") (McGee 2014, 15).

Though the estampie is generally monophonic, there are also two-voice compositions in the form of an estampie, such as the three for keyboard in the Robertsbridge Fragment.[citation needed]

According to Grocheio, the fiddle was the supreme instrument of the period, and the stantipes, together with the cantus coronatus and ductia, were the principal forms played on fiddles before the wealthy in their celebration (Page 2001).



According to the OED, the name comes from the Provençal estampida, feminine of estampit, the past participle of estampir "to resound" (Oxford English Dictionary 2005).


  1. ^ "Punctus autem est ordinata aggregatio concordantiarum harmoniam facientium ascendendo et descendendo duas habens partes in principio similes, in fine differentes, qui clausum et apertum communiter appellantur."


  • Willi Apel. Harvard Dictionary of Music (1970) Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
  • Pierre Aubry. Estampies et danses royales (1906) ISBN 2-8266-0603-4.[full citation needed]
  • Jane Bellingham.. "Estampie". The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • "Estampie". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • L. Hibberd. "Estampie and Stantipes". Speculum XIX, 1944, 222 ff.[page needed]
  • David Hiley. "Punctum". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
  • Timothy McGee. Medieval Instrumental Dances. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780253013149.
  • Timothy J. McGee,. "Estampie". Grove Music Online, edited by Deane L. Root (17 December 2012) (subscription required) (accessed 25 September 2014).
  • Christopher Page. "Grocheio [Grocheo], Johannes de". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
  • C. Schima. Die Estampie (1995) ISBN 90-5170-363-5. See also Estampie Schima
  • Johannes Wolf (ed.), "Die Musiklehre des Johannes de Grocheo," Sammelbande der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 1 (1899–1900), pp. 69–120