[SCA-Dance] basse dance

Barbara Webb bwebb at inf.ed.ac.uk
Mon Dec 1 14:52:19 EST 2008

> Related question: how much is your regular dance group "specialist" vs.
> "social"? I've observed that the serious dancers find it at least
> interesting to understand the pattern and play with it, but Dance
> Practice per se (which is more drawn from the mass of the Barony, and
> are largely more casual dancers) not as much.

I guess our group is small enough that everyone is forced to be 
specialist! But actually for some years it seems most people really like 
them - perhaps being initiated into the 'secret formula' from the start, 
rather than teaching them as choreographies helps. But yes, I can see that 
a more socially oriented crowd might not be so keen.

>> Can you tell me what the actual music source is for any common Burgundian
>> basse danses that get done in 2+2+2, and for the music in your version of
>> Lauro?
> Can't speak to the period sources (music isn't my specialty), but it's
> not unusual for recordings to beat La Spagna in a more or less regular
> 2+2+2. (This may depend on the arrangement -- I haven't examined it
> carefully.) Combine that with the Brainard tradition, and Lauro in
> particular is generally done with even steps.

But that goes back to my original question about the Cornazano tenors. If 
the note lengths he gives are treated the same way as in his balli, then 
there are two notes per double, each note taking 3 (or 2+2+2) beats. And 
we can then assume the various arrangements are meant to be played at an 
appropriate speed. Certainly the most convincing recordings I have of 
these arrangements are the ones at 'virtuoso' speed, which work fine for 
dancing as 3+3, with a faster moving tenor. But that in itself could be an 
argument that the Burgundians took the Italian tenors and slowed them 
down, resulting in them doing 3 even steps for each note of the tenor - or 
that the Italians took the Burgundian tenors and sped up the music while 
slowing the dance, so that the double that took 3 beats now takes 6 beats 
- a process continued by Arbeau who effectively has 12 beats per double 

However, this weekend I had the opportunity to speak with Veronique 
Daniels about this issue and her opinion is that many of the arrangements 
(e.g. Falla con Misuras) are in 3 because they are meant to be salterelli, 
not bassadanza. If you look at the bassadanza sections of balli, there are 
two notes per double, but these are nearly always repeated notes, 
suggesting the underlying 'tenor' is still changing at the speed of one 
per double. So then the Cornazano tenors should be treated the same way as 
Burgundian tenors.

> That said, that simple interpretation has been losing out over time to
> listening to the music more and paying attention to it. 1/3/4 is
> standard in many of the dances we do nowadays, especially in those that
> came into repertoire after Ingrid died (and which, therefore, don't have
> decades of habit in the old tradition).

Interesting - so you are not aware of any current 'professional dance 
scholar' who argues for 1/3/5?

Sorry for those of you not too interested in this abtruse musicological 
point but it has been bothering me for quite a while...!

As another data point, I looked at Del's (online) dance book, in which he 
says even for the Italian bassadanza that as a double has six beats, each 
step of the double takes 2 beats. Not sure if Master Del reads this list 
but I'd like to get a comment from Lochac on the issue...



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