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Nicolas Vallet

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Biography

Nicolas Vallet (ca. 1583 – ca. 1642) was a Dutch lutenist and composer of French birth.

Born in Corbény, France, Vallet settled down in Amsterdam around 1613. There, he worked as a self-supporting musician and lute teacher. In 1626, he formed an an ensemble with three English lutists. He later became the owner of a dance school.

Vallet’s significance as a composer comes from four collections of compositions published between 1615 and 1620. These compositions include both secular and religious works for vocals and lute. The secular works consist of both Vallet’s own compositions in a semi-polyphonic style as well as reworkings of old and new French dance styles such as pavane, gaillard, bourrée, and courante. He also composed variations on some popular folk songs. Vallet’s religious compositions suggest an influence from the organ improvisations of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.

His primary work, Le Secret des Muses, contains compositions and instruction for the 10-string Renaissance lute. It appeared, in two parts, in 1615 and 1616. It was among the last compositions to appear for this instrument, before it was supplanted by the Baroque lute. He also wrote a Psalms of David (in 1615) and Regia Pietas (in 1622).

According to Frederick Neumann, Vallet may have been among the first to introduce ornaments into lute tablature.

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