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Title: Estampie  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Historical dance, Homophony, Dance music, Medieval music, Medieval dance
Collection: Dances, Medieval Dance, Medieval Music
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The estampie (, Occitan and Catalan: estampida, Italian: istampitte) is a medieval dance and musical form, it was a popular instrumental and vocal form in the 13th and 14th centuries. The name was also applied to poetry (Bellingham 2002).


  • Musical form 1
  • Dance 2
  • Etymology 3
  • Media 4
  • References 5

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..

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).


The idealized dance character of all these pieces suggests that the estampie may have been a true dance but there are no surviving dance manuals describing the estampie as a dance. Illuminations and paintings from the period seem to indicate that the estampie involves fairly vigorous hopping. Some estampies, such as the famous Tre fontane ("Three Fountains") estampie, contain florid and virtuosic instrumental writing, signifying that they may have been intended as abstract performance music rather than actual dance music.


The etymology of the name is disputed; an alternative name of the dance is stantipes, which suggests that one foot was stationary during the dance; but the more widely accepted etymology relates it to estamper, to stamp the feet.

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


Anonymous estampie from the Robertsbridge Codex, performed by Ulrich Metzner

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  • Willi Apel. Harvard Dictionary of Music (1970) Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
  • Pierre Aubry. Estampies et danses royales (1906) ISBN 2-8266-0603-4.
  • Jane Bellingham.. "Estampie". The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
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  • L. Hibberd. "Estampie and Stantipes". Speculum XIX, 1944, 222 ff.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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