[SCA-Dance] Misc. questions from KWDS - Piva

Rachel/Judith judithsca at aol.com
Mon Apr 27 04:03:49 EDT 2015

p.s. I know that tone tends to go astray in electronic format, so let me reiterate that I intended my comments to be understood in the spirit of respectful academic debate. The mysteries of 15th century dance will ultimately only be solved by the invention of time machines, the appearance of worm holes to gaze into the past, or the discovery of that long-hope for manual that sees fit to describe things in the same detail as 16th c. manuals (and even with that level of description, there is still room for some debate).




-----Original Message-----
From: Rachel/Judith <judithsca at aol.com>
To: sca-dance <sca-dance at sca-dance.org>
Sent: Mon, Apr 27, 2015 8:35 am
Subject: Re: [SCA-Dance] Misc. questions from KWDS - Piva

 Greetings all - since I see my name getting tossed around, I thought I would chime in here...
 Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:08:35 -0700
 From: Greg Lindahl
 <lindahl at pbm.com>
 On Sun, Apr 26, 2015 at 01:40:55AM -0500, tmcd at panix.com
 > As best I wrote it, the manuscript says that the piva is "a
 > that is altered and accelerated by the music that stimulates the
 dancer to it".  Is this the only definition of piva, or are there
 > similar
 ones from other sources?
 Wilson, D. R. <cite>The Steps Used in Court
 Dancing in Fifteenth-Century Italy</cite>.
 Third revised &amp; englarged
 edition. Self-published, 2003. ISBN 0951930737. A step
 concordance. Went
 unavilable at Dance Books in December, 2010.<p>
 The long and the short of it
 is that there are descriptions in several
 sources; the one you cite is the most
 basic one, and the version with
 the cut-under is kind of hinted at in some of
 the other descriptions.>>
 The description about the piva being a double altered, etc. is the most detailed description I have found, supplemented by the comment that it is the sad step done by the people in their country villas (do not have my books here with me, so cannot provide specific quote at the moment), and I definitely agree that one should procure Wilson's step concordance because there is a little bit said in other sources, and it is worth examining all the evidence together.
     However, regarding the undercut -  I have spent years poring over primary-source information on the piva and have yet to see any evidence of the undercut there - where is it hinted at specifically? I would certainly be interested in anything that precise. There is one mention of a *double* - not a piva specifically - consisting of three steps, the second of which is shorter than the other two, but that does not hint at an cut-under, to my mind.  That notwithstanding, I am always re-examining my assumptions and re-reading the primary sources for info. The last bout of which this winter almost led to me deciding that I (we as a scholarly community) do not really know enough to teach anyone anything about 15th c. dance.
 Seriously, I almost cancelled all of my classes.
 > Is Amoroso's tempo quaternaria?
 It doesn't
 specifically say, but, scholars generally think it's a
 piva. Which means, yes,
 the slow tempo you sometimes see it danced at
 is not right.>>
 I bed to differ on the statement that "scholars generally agree" that it is piva tempo. There are multiple cases of piva steps being danced over quaternaria music, Amoroso and Belfiore being two of them. One can play them more or less slowly, but that does not alter the fact that the music is quaternaria (4/4), and that the piva should be danced to reflect that, versus dancing a piva to music that is in proper piva/saltarello tempo (6/8). The music scholars with whom I have worked and whose work I have studied seem to think that the music for both of these dances is in 4/4 (with Belfiore having sections of 2/4 as well). In the 15th c. chronicles describing dance, there is also one explicit mention of a line of men dancing *slow* pive in a line like a snake. Therefore, it is obviously the case that piva does not have to be fast, or even syncopated, just as a saltarello does not have to be fast (take the instances where one saltarello is danced across a whole measure of bassadanza), or syncopated (saltarello in quaternaria). I suspect that the piva may have started off as a chipper country step enjoyed by peasants and later became subsumed by the aristocratic culture, morphing to fill new additional stylistic duties.
     Now I have to say that my personal preference for Amoroso is a medium tempo - fast enough to allow smooth flow, slow enough to display the grace imparted by the melody and and the seduction implied by the dance's choreography.

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