This article is about the medieval dance. For the German band, see Estampie (band).

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

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. All other known examples are purely instrumental pieces. Fourteenth-century examples include estampies with subtitles such as "Lamento di Tristano", "La Manfredina", Salterello, "Isabella", "Tre fontane".

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.

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).


See also: Medieval dance


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).


Estampie "Retrove"
Anonymous estampie from the Robertsbridge Codex, performed by Ulrich Metzner

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  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."


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