This collection begins with the Petite pastorale H. 479 by Charpentier from around 1676, which is partly created by assembling pre-existing musical fragments, notably those taken from the prologue to Molière's Le Malade imaginaire (1673), interspersed with airs sérieux, and extended by instrumental ritornellos. In this Petite pastorale, Alcidon and Lysander, (Reinaud Van Mechelen and Cyril Auvity) joust by exquisite singing, accompanied by harpsichord (William Christie). Hardly the weapons of "real" shepherds ! Pan (Lisandro Abadie) - the god of merriment - unites them and they sing in unison "Laissez, laissez là sa gloire ! Ne songez qu’à ses plaisirs !" Also included in this collection are all five scenes from his pastoraletta Amor vince ogni cosa, H. 492 for five voices which shows the impact of Italian cantata.
Étienne Moulinié (1599-1676) was an early master of the courtly air, inheriting older traditions, as evidenced by two airs de boire, Amis, enivrons-nous du vin d'Espagne en France, a cheerful part song for male and female voices and Guillot est mon ami (1639) where polyphonic style is adapted for decidedly non-religious purposes. It ends with gleeful laughter, a nod to its folk song origins. Moulinié's Enfin la beauté que j'adore, (1624) is an air de cour reflecting troubadour style. By the mid 17th century, the genre developed in different directions. The air galant became more personal, morphing into the air sérieux, the art song of literary salons, where, as Leconte notes, "the art of conversation was practiced according to the new codes of behaviour and courteousness which appealed both to the heart and the mind". The air sérieux favoured simple, strophic structure, almost ballad form, but much more refined and elegant : songs of love, longing and emotional poise. Vos mépris chaque jour me causent mille alarmes, by Michel Lambert (1610-1696) epitomises the style. A tender accompniment (violins, viola da gamba and theorbo) cradles the singer, the counter tenor Cyril Auvity) who sings expressively but without excess. Sans murmurer from 1689, is a part song for three male voices, while Amour, je me suis plaint cent fois and J’aimerais mieux souffrir la mort also include the female singers Emmanuelle Negri and Anna Reinhold, demonstrating the flexibility of the form. Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente aurore, (Anna Reinhold) and Oh ! que vous êtes heureux (Emmanuelle Negri) are airs by Sébastien Le Camus (c. 1610-1677), proving that, in 17th century artistic circles, lighter female voices filled a worthy role.