[SCA-Dance] Maltese Branle vs SCA Maltese

Kim Barrett kab at irobot.com
Tue Oct 11 19:06:22 EDT 2011

On Oct 10, 2011, at 9:02 PM, Stephen Kiefert wrote:
> Does anyone know how or why different music and steps were substituted for 
> Arbeau's Maltese Branle but the name was kept?

This question has come up before, on this very list, though without any real resolution of the question.

Quoting one of the relevant messages from that thread (yes, I'm an email pack rat)

On Mar 21, 1997, at 11:44 PM, Kim Barrett wrote:
At 5:04 PM -0600 3/21/97, Charlene Charette wrote:
> From "Opening the Book on Branles" by Baroness Signy Dimmridaela, OL in
> "A Known World Dance Compendium":
> A long time ago, in a Barony far to the north, a young dance mistress...
> well, all right... it was me, in the Barony of Northwoods, Middle
> Kingdom, about AS V... was inspired by the Maltese branle to devise a
> similar (but simpler) branle to the tune called Schiarazula Marazula, of
> which she had a really good recording.  In those days it was called the
> Turkish branle to distinguish it from the Maltese.  "Turkish" being
> easier to remember than "Schiarazula."  It was also noted that the steps
> inward could be easily made to resemble the "Turkish walk" of
> middle-eastern dancing.

Very interesting, though it doesn't quite explain how or when the
attachment of the name "Maltese" to that dance came about.  I've been
wondering for several years how that happened, ever since I ran across a
copy of John Renbourn's "Ship of Fools" album, which contains a medley of
two tunes, one of which is called "Maltese Bransle" on the album cover but
which turns out to be Shiarazula!  Unfortunately, that's one of his albums
that I don't own, so I can't go look up the publication date.

---------- end quote from old email ----------

Thanks to the web I can now look up some of the relevant information.

Ship of Fools, track 6: Cobbler's Jig / Maltese Brawls
tune switch occurs at about 1:40 then back to the first tune at 2:30, so only about 50sec of
what is very clearly Schiarazula, though with some interesting instrumentation - is that a
tuba in there?

Wikipedia gives 1988 as the date for Ship of Fools.

That's long after the roughly AS V composition date for the dance in question, and
doesn't really help all that much in figuring out when the name "Maltese Bransle"
was attached to this dance.  But it's really interesting that a bunch of British folk
musicians would use that name for the Schiarazula tune.  It seems really unlikely
to have been an independent occurrence, but I haven't been able to track down
any further information on the subject.  Perhaps the liner notes for the Ship of Fools
album might provide some information; unfortunately, it's still one I don't have.

is also interestingly suggestive.

My (still not very well informed) guess would be that somehow the "Maltese Brawl"
name got attached to the Schiarazula tune in the British folk music community, and
that later led to the "renaming" of the SCA dance.

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