The gigue or giga is a lively baroque dance originating from the British jig.
It was imported into France in the mid-17th century and usually appears at the end of a suite. The gigue was probably never a court dance, but it was danced by nobility on social occasions and several court composers wrote gigues.
A gigue is usually in 3/8 or in one of its compound metre derivatives, such as 6/8, 6/4, 9/8 or 12/8, although there are some gigues written in other metres, as for example the gigue from Johann Sebastian Bach's first French Suite (BWV 812), which is written in 2/2.
It often has a contrapuntal texture. It often has accents on the third beats in the bar, making the gigue a lively folk dance.
In early French theatre, it was customary to end a play's performance with a gigue, complete with music and dancing.
A gigue, like other Baroque dances, consists of two sections. In Bach's gigues, each section often begins as a fugue, in which the theme used in the first section is inverted in the second section, as for example in the gigue from Bach's third English Suite.
An early Italian dance called the giga probably derives its symphonic name from a small, petite accompanying stringed instrument called the 'giga'.
Historians, such as Charles Read Baskerville, claim that use of the word in relation to dancing took place in England prior to such usage on the Continent. Also, giga probably has a separate etymology.
Jonathan Littell's novel The Kindly Ones is structured in different parts, each one of these named after a Baroque dance, the last part being called Gigue.
Blatter, Alfred (2007). Revisiting music theory: a guide to the practice, p.28. ISBN 0-415-97440-2.
Bellingham, Jane, "gigue." The Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. Alison Latham. Oxford Music Online. 6 Jul. 2008
Louis Horst, Pre-Classic Dance Forms, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Book Company, 1987), 54-60.