An allemande (allemanda, almain(e), or alman(d), French: "German (dance)") is a renaissance and baroque dance, and one of the most popular instrumental dance styles in baroque music, with notable examples by Couperin, Purcell, Bach and Handel. It is often the first movement of a baroque suite of dances, paired with a subsequent courante, though it is sometimes preceded by an introduction or prelude.
A quite different, later, Allemande, named as such in the time of Mozart and Beethoven, still survives in Germany and Switzerland and is a lively triple-time social dance related to the waltz and the ländler.
The allemande originated in the 16th century as a duple metre dance of moderate tempo, already considered very old, with a characteristic "double-knocking" upbeat of one or occasionally three sixteenth notes. It appears to have derived from a German dance but no identifiable dance and no German dance instructions from this era survive.
The 16th century French dancing master Thoinot Arbeau and the British Inns of Court therefore preserve the first records of the allemande, in which dancers formed a line of couples who took hands and walked the length of the room, walking three steps then balancing on one foot. A livelier version, the allemande courante, used three springing steps and a hop.Elizabethan British composers wrote many "Almans" as separate pieces.
French composers of the 17th century experimented with the allemande, shifting to quadruple meter and ranging more widely in tempo. This slower allemande, like the pavane, was adapted to the tombeau or memorial composition. The German composers Froberger and Bach followed suit in their allemandes for keyboard instruments, although ensemble allemandes kept a more traditional style. Italian and English composers were more free with the allemande, writing in counterpoint and using a variety of tempi (Corelli wrote allemandes ranging from largo to presto).
In his Musikalisches Lexicon (Leipzig, 1732), Johann Gottfried Walther wrote that the allemande "must be composed and likewise danced in a grave and ceremonious manner." Likewise in Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (Hamburg, 1739) Johann Mattheson described the allemande as "a serious and well-composed harmoniousness in arpeggiated style, expressing satisfaction or amusement, and delighting in order and calm". Its music is characterised by absence of syncopation, combination of short motifs into larger units and contrasts of tone and motif.
Late in the 18th century, "allemande" came to be used for another type of dance in triple meter; Weber's Douze allemandes op. 4 of 1801 anticipate the waltz. Mozart and Beethoven both produced sets of German Dances in this style.