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Claude Gervaise

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Biography

Claude Gervaise (fl. c. 1540 – 1560) was a French composer, editor and arranger of the Renaissance, who is mainly remembered both for his association with renowned printer Pierre Attaingnant, as well as for his instrumental music.

Little research has yet been done into his life, and details are only known of the period in which he was active in Paris as an assistant to Attaingnant. He first appears around 1540, mentioned as an editor on the title pages for several of Attaingnant’s books of instrumental dances. After Attaingnant died in late 1551 or 1552, Gervaise continued to assist Attaingnant’s widow, Marie Lescallopier Attaingnant, in carrying on their publishing business. Where Gervaise went after the last publication under the Attaingnant name in 1558 is not known.

Gervaise’s extant output consists of chansons, mostly for three or four voices, and instrumental music, mostly dances. He appears to have written no sacred music at all, an unusual omission for a composer of the time. In addition to being a composer, he appears to have been an innovator in notation of instrumental music: in an instruction manual for the viol (1548, now lost), he is known to have produced the first viol tablature in France.

His chansons are freely composed, and mostly are settings of long poems (for example huitans).

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