>Grant Colburn wrote:
>That's kind of the same thing I was thinking myself. Considering just how
>much keyboard music is based on dance music, I have a hard time believing
>that there was no concept of understanding how to play in strict time in the
>baroque and reniassance (and really most other periods and styles of music).
>I'm sure there was room for ritards for endings and cadences, but there'd be
>a lot of messed up dancers around if musicians were incapable of locking in
>a solid beat....
Actually messed up musicians; some of those chopins on their feet
were wooden, and would HURT if an incensed dancer threw them at you!!!
However, case in point. In '68-'69, New York Pro Musica toured with
"An Entertainment for Elizabeth," a program designed to represent an
Elizabethan Masque, with choreography by Julia Sutton and with
professional dancers. (One young man had been in the Broadway cast
of "West Side Story"!) They were also in residence at Stanford that
summer, where my late wife and I were attending Putnam Aldrich's
workshop on early music and dance. They described the first
rehearsals with the musicians and dancers:
The Pro Musica folks, all top notch musicians, had been playing
renaissance dance pieces for years, but never before for dancers.
They automatically took very nice, tasteful, small ritards at major
cadences. And Julia immediately and forcefully explained to them
that this was NOT acceptable! Especially in the galliard variations,
where the beat on which the dancer's leap returns to earth is not a
matter of artistic taste, but a matter of law--the law of gravity!
In one of the galliards--staged as a challenge match in which a page
standing on a chair held up a tassel and each dancer in turn had to
leap up and kick the tassel as it was gradually lifted higher and
higher--the musicians had to learn to gradually slow the music down
very precisely because as the dancers got taller and the leaps got
higher, the dancer was in the air longer. (These are the things you
never really think about until you actually have to deal with them!)
In the same vein, they also reconstructed the very famous portrait
gown in which Elizabeth was painted, very elaborate and covered with
pearls. And then discovered that it weighed about 60 pounds (sorry;
don't know what that is in kg.) and the poor dancer who was to
portray Liz could barely stand, let alone galliard in it!!!
P.S. Tilman: Of course I understood that he was talking about a
certain style of music when I criticized Michael's too-broad
generalization. We are actually in complete agreement as far as I
can see. Tilman wrote:
>Very informative, gives a great idea about just how historical the
>concept of a constant beat was in certain styles. Or play together
>with dancers. They fall flat on their noses when we are being
>musical, most of the time.
John R. Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:[log in to unmask])