Concerning dance and music:
I've played harpsichord or recorder for renaissance dance
recreations...and have also danced myself. Dancers need the constant
beat. Can't find Arbeau's Orchesography (1588) at the moment...but he
describes and notates the drum patterns for various dances, which, he
relates, are similar to those used for military maneuvers. For the
Pavan, he gives the pattern of half note quarter quarter, which is not
to be altered or changed in the course of dancing. Confirming previous
comments, the leaps of the galliard and tossing in the air of the volta
(Elizabeth's dance portrait) are difficult enough without having to be
concerned with an unconstant beat. Clothing and footwear of the period
influence posture, height of leaps...where arms are placed, etc.
In modern Irish dance competitions (Feis) I've often seen the
instrumentalist with a metronome at hand to insure a specific tempo for
the dancers...again, the leaps and athletic nature needs a constant
tempo, and, if not, can throw off those dancers that are sensitive to
the beat. An interesting/annoying cacophony of sound and percussive
taps at those events!
Chris Rowson wrote:
>--- John Howell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>Actually messed up musicians; some of those chopins
>>on their feet
>>were wooden, and would HURT if an incensed dancer
>>threw them at you!!!
>I don't think there's any need to worry: when the
>musicians don't keep time, the dancers simply ignore
>them. My wife has been active for the last couple of
>years in the Dresdner Hoftanz historical dance group,
>and she frequently comments on this.
>The one time I played for them, the marital
>relationship plus Cecile's bilingualism as musician
>and dancer were seen as an occasion to attempt
>communication. In particular it was conveyed to me
>that under no circumstances might there be the
>slightest ritardando, except maybe at the end of a
>sequence of dances, and then so little that I should
>better not think about it but just play straight
>through to the end, and then stop.
>Just as John describes.
>Generally, it seems to me that dancers perceive the
>music as having a role much like that of the room they
>dance in: it has to be there, and if it's not quite as
>it should be, you ignore it and keep going.