It reminds me too of the quote about Charles II who couldn't stand any kind
of music he couldn't tap the beat to.....
Really its difficult to think that Europeans of the past had no concept of a
(more or less) metronomic beat when its pretty obvious that most other world
music of the time certainly DID have a concept of laying down a solid beat.
Once one has one or multiple drummers locked into a heavy groove, I think
one can assume they can keep a solid beat going. If they could, certainly
European musicians of the period could too....
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Howell" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2008 10:02 AM
Subject: Re: Don't burn your old Peters sheet music
> >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
>>baroque and reniassance (and really most other periods and styles of
>>I'm sure there was room for ritards for endings and cadences, but there'd
>>a lot of messed up dancers around if musicians were incapable of locking
>>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
> 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])