[SCA-Dance] "Drive the Cold Winter Away"

Garden, John (DPS) John.Garden at aph.gov.au
Wed Feb 18 19:18:10 EST 2015

Just an aside to Dayfdd's aside, Hole in the Wall (in Dancing Master editions from 1695 to 1728) is indeed a good example of how new steps and rhythms came into vogue (and this fault line for change of fashion falls pretty clearly in those dance manuals around the mid 1670s-though with lots of exceptions each side) and mentioning the minuet step in connection with that dance is a good antidote to the belief you need to do the dance with slow walking steps, but I might suggest that the minuet step (in any of its possible forms- as there were several different patterns that could be deployed at will - was only one of the possible steps with which it might have been enjoyed and not necessarily the main possibility. Others possibilities are:
1)  are a slow pas de bourrée with a (1) right, (2) left, (3) right and plié, then the same stating with the other foot-all with lots of movement on the vertical axis so good for filling out music
2) a courante step sequence-a simple one being (1) demi-coupé right, (2) glissé left and (3) jeté right-then the same starting other foot-and there were lots of others as well and many perfect for filling out newly fashionable 3/2 tunes (with the courant, not in the Arbeau form but in its post 1630 form, being the most fashionable couples dance of the mid to late 17th century and one which any dancer going off to an upper class social would be expected to know).
3) a series of 3 step-hops to a bar, i.e. elegant skipping in triple time. This is not far removed from the series of demi-contretemps, (hop-steps) which Feuillet recommends as a staple step for weavey country dances, and step-hops were certainly associated with hornpipes (and though in triple time the Hole in the Wall tune was regarded by contemporaries as a form of hornpipe - what we call a 'Purcellian hornpipe'- and was actually published in 1695 as 'Air VIII Hornpipe'). Step-hops were certainly regard as the main step for country dancing by the anonymous dancing master 'A.D.'  in his 1764 book. The hop does not have to be pronounced.
4) any combination of any of the above-plus other useful steps such as the sissone (to start a turning pattern), a full contretemp sequence (hop-step-step inside 1 bar) and assemblé to conclude a pattern.

There's ample testimony to the fact that steps in country dances were varied and improvised across all periods. When contemporary commentators declare there were no rules for steps they didn't mean there were no steps, just that they were mixed at the dancer's pleasure. In baroque times a good dancer enjoying a country dance might have let different part of the tune and figure suggest different patterns, and might vary these again on the repeat. I myself, dance friends and other dancers interested in historical dance of the period would do no less today. So though I fully concur with Dafyddd that the implied musical and step unit for most ECD up to 1651 is the 4 beat one (and its useful of him to point this out), I might also (not inconsistently) suggest that good dancers at courtly balls in pre-1651 England might also have thrown in a range of steps and the musicians a range of musical interpretations (of the sort you would see in contemporary Italian balleti) when they felt the tune and figure suited. Large amounts of the early English country dance repertoire might have its feet most firmly in a double-dominated figured almain tradition, but lots also clearly had links to known Italian dances, Italian tunes and to Stuart masques benefiting from contributions from continental choreographers. Think also of all those continental musicians playing in the English court-some had probably been brought up not turning single with a plain double but with a spezzato and cadenza. Think of the mention in Playford manuals of cryptic moves such as 'open and close', and some of the cryptic pace changes  between parts in some more showy dances. So the understanding posited is very good as a general rule to help people understand how a lot of the music and dance tied together-but I'd recommend people always keep an open mind on the variety of practise that may have been deemed appropriate in different circumstances.

John Gardiner-Garden.
www.earthlydelights.com -new edition of my 10 Volume Historic Dance series is due in March and the first 4 or 5 volumes should be of great interest to Renaissance dancers, not just for the history and hundreds of dance reconstructions but also for the hundreds of pages exploring every conceivable source related to steps practise. Don't buy the set that is currently advertised and available-if interested in the books, let me know in an email to garden at earthlydelights.com.au and I'll let you know the day the changeover happens to the new improved and expanded edition and how you can get them discount direct from us rather than publisher.

-----Original Message-----
From: sca-dance-bounces+john.garden=aph.gov.au at sca-dance.org [mailto:sca-dance-bounces+john.garden=aph.gov.au at sca-dance.org] On Behalf Of White,John
Sent: Thursday, 19 February 2015 2:25 AM
To: sca-dance at sca-dance.org
Subject: Re: [SCA-Dance] "Drive the Cold Winter Away"

> From: Tim McDaniel
> On Tue, 17 Feb 2015, Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com> wrote:
> > (Dayfdd says "the rest of the men in a line begin a figure that they
> > have four measures to complete", but he doesn't bother to mention how
> > long a "measure" is or give beat counts for anything here -- if it's 4
> > beats per measure, our timings if not our repetition counts
> > agree.)
> Before I get flamed for ignorance:
> I just checked the Terp booklet and almost all the English Country dances are
> listed as "== in 4 ==".
> But I'm not a musician -- I took a couple of years of music in middle school
> decades ago, and the reproduction of Playford doesn't look entirely like the
> modern notation I learned, so I'm not at all at home with music.
> Danielis de Lindocollino
> --
My understanding of the ECD genre as a whole, at least up until 1651 or thereabouts,
is that every step-figure (double, single, side, arm, set, turn, etc) takes either four beats
(one measure/bar), two beats (half a measure/bar), or some multiple of a full four beat
Measure/bar (while siding is usually one measure/4 beats to go in, and one measure/4 beats
to return to place, arming is usually described as 'walk in a circle for two measures/8 beats',
although if the music is sufficiently evocative, you will see dancers make note of the end of
the first measure with a little dip or stomp or something that indicates that it is two measures
of four beats each).

This, I believe, is a fairly universal understanding, though the rule eventually changes as new
steps and measure counts came into vogue (Hole in the Wall is supposed to be done with
minuet steps - you cannot count 1-2-3-4 if you are doing it right, which the SCA does not do).

(Note that I do understand that much of the music is transcribed so that each measure of music
is two beats, which means that two measures makes one "dance" measure of four beats.  I also
know, empirically, that it doesn't matter, because you never end up with half-measures so you
can count 1-2-3-4 all the way through without losing the beat structure or the dance structure.
Though if you do, you may be doing it wrong.)

Being that I have an understanding of music (many years of piano lessons, some flute, some
English Horn, and five years of trombone in junior and senior high school), some of these things
are second nature to me - beats/rhythm especially.  It is one of those "never thought about it"
things when putting together dance instruction sheets, like not describing a double (step, step,
step, close), etc.  The idea that "everyone knows" is never correct, even though it influenced
the dance manuals/manuscripts wherein we find ECDs (Playford, Lovelace/Church, Sloane) to
the point that only Playford, and then only accidentally, actually describes that siding and arming
changes sides when done in a verse!

Anyway - yes, my ECD dance instruction sheets are written with the implied idea that a measure or
bar is 4 beats.  Perhaps next time I re-do the entire thing, I'll either put together a preface page like
Lovelace/Church did, with these assumptions spelled out, or just note on every dance what the
measure structure is that I am referring to.  (Note also that I believe (because my memory is just
that bad) that the numbers next to the steps are always full-4-beat measures for ECD, unless
there is a reason to get down to the individual step counts (which there seldom is)).

                  \\Dafydd C
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