The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn (It. pavana, padovana; Ger. Paduana) is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance).

Origin of term

The origin of this term is not known. Possibilities include the word being from Pava, a dialect form of Padua (in Italian, both pavana and padoano are adjectives meaning "of Padua") (Brown 2001); a descendant of the Sanskrit word meaning wind; or from the Spanish pavón meaning peacock (Sachs 1937, 356), though the dance was "almost certainly of Italian origin" (Brown 2001).


The decorous sweep of the pavane suited the new more sober Spanish-influenced courtly manners of 16th century Italy. It appears in dance manuals in England, France, and Italy. The musical pavane survived hundreds of years after the dance itself was abandoned, especially in the form of the tombeau. At Louis XIV's court the pavane was superseded by the courante.


  • Slow duple metre (Double Time 2/2).
  • Generally follows the form of A,A1, B,B1, C,C1.
  • It generally uses counterpoint or homophonic accompaniment.
  • Often accompanied by a tabor, according to Arbeau 1967, 59–64) in a rhythmic pattern of minim-crotchet-crotchet (1/2-1/4-1/4) or similar, and this was generally followed with little variation by the melody; there were rarely minims in the centre of the bar, for example.
  • This dance was generally paired with the Galliard.


In Thoinot Arbeau's French dance manual, it is generally a dance for many couples in procession, with the dancers sometimes throwing in ornamentation (divisions) of the steps (Arbeau 1967, 59–66). In the English Measures manuscripts, the pavane is one of several similar dances classed as measures; danced by a line of couples, it is simple and choreographed. In Italian sources, the pavane is often a fairly complicated dance for one couple, with galliard and other sections.

Modern use

The step used in the pavane survives to the modern day in the hesitation step sometimes used in weddings.

More recent works titled "pavane" often have a deliberately archaic mood. Examples include:


  • Arbeau, Thoinot. 1967. Orchesography. Translated by Mary Stewart Evans. With a new introd. and notes by Julia Sutton and a new Labanotation section by Mireille Backer and Julia Sutton. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-21745-0
  • Brown, Alan. 2001. "Pavan". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
  • Sachs, Curt. 1937. World History of the Dance. Translated by Bessie Schönberg. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

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