[SCA-Dance] Haut Barrois branle

Mikuláš migulas at gmail.com
Thu Jan 11 17:05:16 EST 2007

Alex Clark wrote:
>>> This, together with his comments contrasting the saut with 
>>> movements/positions in which one or both feet are on the ground, 
>>> makes it clear that for Arbeau the most distinctive and definitive 
>>> feature of the saut is that both feet are off the ground. So, in the 
>>> absence of any indication that he meant something else about both 
>>> feet, he probably meant that both feet are simultaneously elevated. 
>>> This also suggests that on the notes where his tabulation calls for 
>>> a "saut", that is probably supposed to be a moment at which the feet 
>>> are elevated, not the moment at which they leave the ground.
>>> The original French also makes a closer connection between the 
>>> landing and the resulting position than the above translation does, 
>>> giving more emphasis to the role played in the landing by the 
>>> specified foot or feet. It seems to me that when it describes the 
>>> landing position with reference to one foot (i. e. "pied largi 
>>> gauche"), it is indicating that the landing is done *only* on that 
>>> foot.
>>> My conclusion is that the original meaning was that the first three 
>>> steps of each double are done by springing off the ground and 
>>> landing on one foot, and the last by springing off the ground and 
>>> landing on both feet. For example, the left double goes:
>>> 1. Spring (off from both feet) with both feet off the ground, and 
>>> land on the left foot out to the side.
>>> 2. Spring (off from the left foot) with both feet off the ground, 
>>> and land on the right foot approaching the left foot.
>>> 3. Spring (off from the right foot) with both feet off the ground, 
>>> and land on the left foot out to the side.
>>> 4. Spring (off from the left foot) with both feet off the ground, 
>>> and land on both feet joined.
>>> (This is done with a net leftward motion on every step.)
>>> Put more simply, with less reference to Arbeau's terms and definitions:
>>> 1. Spring to left onto left foot.
>>> 2. Spring onto right foot near where the left foot was.
>>> 3. Spring to left onto left foot.
>>> 4. Spring onto both feet together.
>>> I hope that this has helped to shed some light on the problem.
>> Thanks,
>> I find this quite an interesting interpretation. I very much agree 
>> that both feet have to be off the ground when moving sideways with 
>> jumping step.
>> On the other hand personaly I still tend to believe, that when Arbeau 
>> says "tumbant sur pied largy gaulche", he wants you to land in the 
>> position of pieds largis - he defines them as "pieds largis, qui se 
>> font quand les deux pieds sont a terre, portans tous deux esgallement 
>> la pesanteur du corps" (rougly translated: they are made with both 
>> feet on the ground, taking both the same body weight). Pide gaulche 
>> largy is the very same term he uses in the tabulature describing the 
>> "ordinary" double in branle double. I hesitate to believe that this 
>> one was done with standing only on one foot most of the time - 
>> although it is not impossible.
>> I believe that to agree with landing on just one foot would mean to 
>> interpretate the position of "pieds largyz" differently in branle 
>> double nad branle du hault Barrois.
>> Hope it helps to bring in more confusion ;)
> I suspect that it does. But if so, I was confused in a similar way a 
> few years ago. Then I figured out that in the branle tabulations, 
> Arbeau most often uses the singular "pied", reserving the plural 
> "pieds" for the "pieds joincts". In contrast with this, he uses the 
> plural for his definitions of both "pieds joincts" and "pieds largis", 
> including the "pieds largis oblique".
> Based on his uses of singular and plural, I now think that in the 
> branle tabulations he meant that a "pied . . . largi" or "pied . . . 
> approche" is  a step onto the designated foot, taking all weight onto 
> that foot in readiness to move the other foot to make the next foot 
> placement. So "pied gaulche largi" would be a step onto the left foot, 
> "pied droit largi" would be a step onto the right foot, while "pieds 
> largis" is a stance with weight on both feet. This would give "pied . 
> . . largi" the same meaning in all the branles, with the only 
> difference being the moment at which weight is taken off the other 
> foot, before or after the new foot placement.
> This leaves weight on the other foot from where it is in the "pieds 
> largis oblique droict" and its "gauche" counterpart, but I don't see 
> that as a problem. I don't see Arbeau using the latter terms in dance 
> tabulations, so he might have seen them as static positions which do 
> not necessarily lead to any specific kind of transfer of weight. So 
> one dances a "pied gaulche largi" by putting the left foot out to the 
> side and shifting all weight onto it, but one stands "pieds largis 
> oblique gaulche" by going into a similar position but not following 
> through with a transfer of weight.
> Wouldn't Arbeau be delighted to know how people are splitting hairs 
> over his work more than four hundred years later?

I think I get your point - and it is an interesting one. Never gave 
those damn singulars and plurals deep thought myself... ;)
On the other hand, it makes just a very small difference. You have to 
shift your wieght fully on the one foot anyway when trying to move the 
other one and if you make it exactly on beat or slightly after it isn't 
that important when you make all the movements fluid. And I am very glad 
that we both agree
that "pieds largis oblique droict" and weght on the right foot at the 
end of step to the left have nothing to do with the common branle.

I think Arbeau is having in heaven a hell of a laugh! ;)


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