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Medieval Instrumental Dance Music Author(s): Joan Rimmer Reviewed work(s): Source: Music & Letters, Vol.

72, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 61-68 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/11/2012 16:05
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COMPAREDwithhistoricalmusicologists,dance historianshave been thinon the ground and often particular in standpoint. For example, Curt Sachs, who is not known personally to have set foot to floor in any serious sense, produced a World Hzstoryof the Dance (Eng. trans., New York, 1937), using a methodologyreminiscentof the magisterial classificatory systems of his earlier professionas a curator of musical instrument collections in Berlin and Cairo. The Geschichte der Tanzkunst by the Polish dance-master Albert Czerwinski(Leipzig, 1862) was concerned only with Antiquityand Europe, but it was written with technical masteryof much contemporarydance. Though both were concerned with the practice of dance, they provided very few notations of dance music. The reverse is the case with TimothyJ. McGee's collection of westernEuropean dance music,' which contains 36 pages of text and fiveillustrations,followed by 121 pages of music notations and thirteenpages of notes on these. In a shortpreface McGee writesmodestly:'This edition contains all the compositionsknown or suspected to be instrumentaldances frombeforeca. 1430 . . . I view this book ... not as the definitive writingon medieval instrumentaldance music, but as a somewhat speculative study along the way to a complete understanding'. From the consumer'spoint of view, thereare two distinctproducts here -the hard stuff in the shape of the notations and illustrations, and the author's speculative views in the preceding text and the notes. The text is presented in four sections: 'Dance in the Middle Ages', 'The Repertoryof Textless Dances', 'Dancing' and 'Performance Practice', the last referring to musical, not dance performance. Having in one volume a considerable part of the known body of notated dance music frombefore 1430 will no doubt save many students of musicologymuch preliminaryscrabbling through a number of different and not always easily accessible publications; these, whetherof facsimiles or of earlier transcriptions,are listed individually for each item. This comparatively inexpensive production, printed on sturdypaper and spiral-bound, amply allows forthe scribblingin of personal disagreements withthe transcriptions given here. As dance music, however,it is another matter,since these 48 notationsare unhelpfulto the choreographically uninformed.Pitch, rhythmic interpretation and recurrenceorder (the last not always accurate) are here, as well as a 'counting unit' for each item, though its overall metrical significance is not defined. But of choreometric structureor stylethere is no hint. A lack of foot-on-floor realitypervades the text, too. The author pertinently points out that iconographical material is a neglected source of informationnot only about earlier music practice but also about dance. One must nevertheless add that its usefulnessdepends to a great extent on the recognition bank of the present-dayviewer. McGee's recognition bank appears to be minimallystocked. He cautiously admits that Plate 3, an Italian fresco of c. 1420, may not depict dancing, merelya procession. In fact, it seems to be an allegoryof a woman's life fromgirlhood to old age. To the sound of a pair of long trumpets,a pair of shawms and nakers, she firstproceeds on her father'sright arm, a slender girl with hair braided down her back; then on the leftarm of an exquisitelydressedyouth,presumablyher betrothed; then as an elegantly-hattedmarried woman on her husband's arm, followed by herself, bonneted in middle age and on the arm of a youngman, perhaps her son; and finally a sad, heavy and downcast figurein black on the arm of a middle-aged man, perhaps her son in maturity.Plate 4, illustratinga scene in the Garden of Delight fromLe Roman de la
Medieval Instrumental Dances, ed. Timothy J. McGee. (Indiana UniversityPress, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1989, $27.50. ISBN 0-253-33353-9.)


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rose, shows no social dancing at all. To the right,a young man, with a monkeytetheredat bunched up as her act required withhair tightly his feet,plays a mandora, while a tornatrix, (and stilldoes) balances on her hands. (In a single paragraph, the author identifiesthisperas a young girl and then as a youth.) Furtherrightis another kind of performer, formerfirst one who assumed curious or dangerous poses, sometimeson the shouldersof a man. Here, a littlegirl, withhair bunched up like the tumbler,balances on the shouldersof a woman and who stands facing her. On the left,two young girls imitatesthe pose of a woman performer whisperand embrace. A male figure,feetwide apart, grasps two more young women by the wrists,apparently urging them towards a winged and coroneted figure,while two mature musicians sit in the background, playing rebec and harp. The frontispiecedepicts a dance copy of Le Roman de la rose, and Plates in the Garden of Mirth,froma fourteenth-century 1 and 2 show details from moralistic frescoesby Andrea Bonaiuto (1365) and Ambrogio the group of fourin Plate 4 (winged figureincluded) Lorenzetti(1337-9). McGee interprets and Plates 1 and 2 as 'dancers holding hands in small and also the figuresin the frontispiece groups, making gracefulmovementswith theirfeetclose to the floor'. He adds that 'the line speaks of dancing the carol. But the dances in the other picof textbeneath the frontispiece Florence and Siena, no identificationwould ture are not identified.' In fourteenth-century have been needed; these were currentdance types, and theyare still identifiable. Leaving aside forthe momentwhetheror not therewas any such thingas 'the carol', these three depictions cover a considerable stretchof time. The text of Le Roman de la rose was created in the thirteenthcentury,part before c. 1240 and part about 40 years later. The copy fromwhich this illustrationwas taken was made a hundred years later still. It can be as a conflationof some of the several activitiesmentionedin the texton the same interpreted cenpage. But it mightdepict somethingperhaps more characteristicof the late fourteenth century,namely, a carole en ligne not actually sung by the turythan of the early thirteenth on two shawms and a bagpipe acting as surrogates participants but performed,textlessly, for the alternating voices of the entire company and the carole leader. Apart from the leader's feetbeing shown in reverse,with the rightfootleading instead of the left(this is correctlyshown in the case of the other four participants), this seems a reasonably accurate depiction of a point in the single branle step pattern. The rightfoot, which takes only the forthe first and second beats of each unit, is exactly in place to take subsidiaryweightshifts the light backward shifton the thirdbeat. The erect carriage and decorous balancing link between participants (right hand facing down over your neighbour's left hand facing up, and the reversefor your left hand) are also clearly shown.2 Naturally, there is greater detail in the big Italian frescoes, which have symbolic significance but are realistically painted. The scene in Lorenzetti's The Effects of Good Governmentin the City(Plate 1) is a large open space in Siena, with citizensof many kinds going about their own affairs in the street, or overlooking it from within doors. In the young women, linked by the littlefingersof each centre, nine well-dressedand well-coiffed hand, dance a branle en ligne to the singing of a somewhat older woman who also defines the dance metres with a large tambourine. McGee describes the formation as 'under the bridge'. It is, however,what is commonlyknown as Threading the Needle, one of the three trackand the leader and farandole typeof dance. The line is on a labyrinthine figuresof this second dancer have just broken fromit to formthe single-armedarch under which the rest will go.3 This is essentiallya communal dance, performableby many more people than are shown in Lorenzetti'spicture and needing the kind of space available out of doors. These innocent dances of young girls were obviously acceptable to civic authority,whereas more such as those at Carnival, were less so. It is significantthat ebullient dance manifestations, in the companion fresco, entitled The Effect of Good Government in the Country, no is shown, onlyorderlylabour. In the agriculturalcycle, the major ritual recreational activity occasions for dance-spring, midsummer and midwinter-were not necessarilyassociated with public order.
2 This has a specific connotation in the physical balance and stability of a communal ring or line.

I In Fra Angelico's The Last Judgement, the dance of angels and the blessed is shown at exactly the same point.


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The detail from the huge, Dominican-orientated fresco depicting the Church Militant, in the chapel of S. Maria Novella, Florence (Plate 2), is taken fromthe section depicting a number of earthlypleasures. There is social and choreographic exactitude here, too, forthe two groups of dancers are engaged in verydifferent kinds of dance. To the left, a group of four-two young men and two girls-are engaged in a carole en ronde, the open-mouthed young man at the rightbeing the leader. They have the same erect carriage as the group in the littleillustrationfromLe Roman de la rose, but, like the girls in Siena, theyare linked by crooked littlefingers.This is also the link between a man and two girlsat the right,and, again like the girlsin Siena, theyare dancing to the singingof a separate woman witha large tambourine. This, however,is no communal carole of ancient lineage but a highlypersonal dance. The dancers' demeanour has a hint of aiere as spelt out in Italian dance-masters' books of two generations later, where there are also many choreographed examples of uneven-sex dances with their undertones of ritualized rivalry.4 Timothy McGee's interpretationof his five illustrations is simplistic to a degree unthinkable in any other academic field, and it is not difficult to see why. Dance history is no armchair subject, and it has not yet begotten as large a corpus of literatureas has medieval music. But even in the musical field, McGee seems heavily dependent on previous writings. His text is curiouslyorganized. Discussion of the notated items in the section entitled 'The Repertoryof Textless Dances' is sandwiched between the verybriefand generalized sections 'Dance in the Middle Ages' and 'Dancing'. While the latter, presentedas a speculative summing up, is little more than three pages long, the notes to the text up to that point fill six and a half pages in small type. Tail wagging dog? Or just the impossibilityof distilling anythingchoreographically concrete from a mass of largely musicological material? The author has already produced an original study of some musical aspects of one collection,' and, with certain reservations,the transcriptionsgiven here are a useful addition to any workinglibrary.But appending to them a minuscule speculative studyon the vast subject of dance in westernEurope over more than three centuriesseems an unrealistic exercise, particularlywhen the author has not only omitted some primary factors from his considerations but appears to be unaware of their relevance. Transcribing medieval notations of dance music-or indeed notations of any unfamiliar dance music-meaningfully into twentieth-century symbolsneeds more than just crackingthe notational codes; one must also attempt to crack the choreometriccodes enshrined in music and/or texts,whether dance functionalor not, and somethingof the behavioural codes of which dance habits were, and still are, a significantcomponent. There is also the matter of reasonably exact definitionof what is being discussed and of reasonably precise terminology.It could no doubt be claimed that the concepts and terms employed have been hallowed by generations of use among literary scholars and musicologists. But following the disappearance of some of the activitieswhich they once denoted clearly, and dilutionsor distortions of meaning or looser applications, a good many of them now mean differentthings to differentpeople.6 None of McGee's distinguished writersreferredto in the extensivenotes faced squarely the crunch problem in retrospective investigationof Western medieval dance and dance music, namely, the relationship between dance metre, prosody and systemsof assembling, and in some cases also decorating, appropriate units of music. What is at issue here is not 'sophisticatedart music matching the theoretical descriptions of the formal design of the earlier dance compositions, although rarelyexhibiting the kind of melodic and rhythmic patternsthat would suggest the dances described in the earlier literaryand theoretical accounts', as Timothy McGee describes his later items. It is, rather, a system of lego-building with several kinds of material simultaneously. Like most durable systems,it was operable short and plain or long and
See Antonius Arena, 'Leges Dansandi/Rules of Dancing', original text with trans. byJohn Gtithrie& Marino Zorzi, Dance Research, iv/2 (Autumn 1986), 14, on fifteenth-century etiquette when dancin1gwith two girls. 5 Timothy J. McGee, 'Eastern Influences in Medieval European Dance Music', Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Music, ed. Robert Falck & Timothy Rice, Toronto, 1982, pp. 79, 100. 6 See Sir Jack Westrup, 'Parodies and Parameters', Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, c (1973-4), 19-31, for general discussion of this in musical terminology.


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century,it must already have been well estabwrittendown in the twelfth fancy. When first lished, and in some conservativeregions of Europe, including the peripheryof the British Isles, it survivedwell into the seventeenthcentury. Throughout the short discussions, there seems to be no clear perception of the elements involved in dance or how they are analysed, and no assessmentof the character and viewto or of the original functionof theirwritings.Dance point of the authors quoted or referred typesare distinguishedas round, carol and estampie, even though these are not comparable categories. 'Round' is a floorpattern. The English term'carol' no longer has the same meaning as carole, forwhich it was once the English equivalent, and in any medieval contextit is prudent to stick to the old French term. Brieflyput, carole was the combination of particular kinds of spatial pattern and particular kinds of group-to-individualrelationshipsin music and text,withparticular kinds of social function.' Estampie, on the other hand, was a specific dance type. Moreover, it was not communal like carole, but for a single couple or couples in sequence, and earlier, sometimesan exhibitionistsolo man's dance. It is the first recorded westernEuropean dance typewith what is known as a 'front',that is, danced first forwardstowardsa personage or point then in reverseback to the starting-place,a floorpattern exactly paralleled in the open and closed forms of each section of estampie-reiated music. In some caroles, certain step sequences in mixed dance metrescould fitwith various recurrence patterns of text-plus-music.8In estampie, a dance type which was always in mixed metres, identical choreometricpatterns are veryrare;9 this was the difficultsocial dance, needing personal concentration. The eleven pages on 'The Repertory of Textless Dances' contain the only analytical discussion in the preliminarytext. But withoutany real perception of what mightbe called the structuralmechanics of dance music and of the parameters of tempo outside which it makes no physical sense at all, the author tends to see similaritieswhere none exist and fails to see some that do exist. It is unhelpful to point out that 'The French estampies have units of measure and are in triple meter, while in relativelyshortpuncta of eight to twenty the Italian source theyvary in length fromtwentyto over a hundred units of measure and are all in duple subdivision'if you do not establishwhetherthose subdivisionsare primaryor secondary in relation to the dance metres,or indeed how the chosen unit of measure relates to them. Simply counting totals of units of measure is in itselfno more revealingof dance or point is music metrethan syllable or footcounting is revealingof versemetre; the significant how they hang together. In terms of design (and the author uses this in a purely musical sense) it is not true to say that the Italian estampies are more complex than the French: the author has merelyfailed to identifyvarious kinds of complexity. The formal principles of French estampie are presented as each punctum consisting of 'completely new melodic material followedby a common open and closed endingsthat act as itsrefrain',0 Ax/y Bx/y etc. The thirteendances in the Chansonnier du Roi, fromwhich most of the French itemsin McGee's book are taken, get, on the whole, simpler. The last of all, from the fourteenthcenturypart of the manuscript and called simplyDanse, can be plotted that way, though in choreometricaltermsit is necessaryto refineit to ABx/y CDx/y etc. But the single fragment which is all that remains of the firstEstampie Royal can be plotted thus:
Al G2 + + B3 B3 C8 H4 D4 D4 E4 J5 F... F...

And using 'w' to representa constant pre-cadential formula, the firstand fourthpuncta of the second Estampie Royal are:
7 See Joan Rimmer, 'Carole, Rondeau and Branle in Ireland 1300-1800, Part 1: The Walling of New Ross and Dance Texts in the Red Book of Ossory', Dance Research, vii/I (Spring 1989), 25-26. 8 See idem, 'Dance Elements in Trouvere Repertory', Dance Research, iii/2 (Summer 1985), 30-31, for one example. 9 McGee's suggestion that 'the French estampies were probably of the generic, unchoreographed type' is not well founded, since he has not recognized the nature of their choreometric changes. 0 The use of this term in connection with estampze and some other medieval dance forms is inappropriate.


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1. 4.

A4 G6

B4 H5


x6 /y7

The kind of ground-plan in the second Estampie Royal, consistingof changing initial modules, a constant pre-cadential formula and open and closed formsof a cadential unit, was followed in some of the Italian estampies, though the melodic languages of the Italian pieces are very different from the older French ones. It is literally a ground-plan, for it definestime -and therefore space -for thFe advancing section and forthe returning section. Moreover, in the constant pre-cadential formula, it has a signal that the dancers are at a certain point from the end of the section, and if they have miscalculated the size of their steps in relation to the available dance track, they can still adjust them to ensure turning and finishingat appropriate spots." In notating any kind of music, whetherfrom live performanceor partly or whollyfrom memory,or even when copying fromexistingnotation, one lurkingpitfall is the indication of the recurrenceof modules which it is both laborious and unnecessaryto writeout in full everytime. Both the Italian notations and Timothy McGee's edition contain a sprinklingof mishits, as do the editions of some of his predecessors. For example, the ground-plan of Isabella is:
1. 2. 3. 4. A4 B5 K1+2+2 M9 07 + 2 C1 +D2 L3+12 N7 P7 Q14 w3+2
.. .. ..

C1 +E3
.. ..

F1 +G2
.. ..

.. ..

F1 +J5


(italics indicate changes of dance metre not specified in detail here)

The lengths of the puncta in this estampie imply a long dance track, with greater possibilitiesforspatial miscalculation than a shorterone; but the music has built-insignals. The changing initial modules are through-composed, while the long cadential unit has balanced repetitions.One would need cloth ears and two leftfeet to miss this. In McGee's edition of thisitem, the pre-cadential module and the first threemodules of the long cadential unit itselfare omitted fromthe second and fourthpuncta; the second goes straightfrom L to F +J and the fourthstraightfrom Q to F +J, thus making nonsense of this superbly craftedchoreo-musical structure.The note to this estampie reads: 'The opening bars of this dance consistonly of a single note, played at decreasing durations. The performer may wish to elaborate on this by incorporatingit into a prelude, extending the phrase, and gradually increasing the speed of the single note until it reaches tempo.' Within the constraintsof general or local consensus, people may indeed do as they please with almost any kind of music. But thissuggestionseems to followfromnon-appreciation of the choreometricstructure of thisparticular dance music and of the parameters of tempo which are implied. That 'single note, played at decreasing durations' is the firmlyrhythmicstart of the firmly rhythmicfirstmodule, which is cast in the principal dance metre of this estampie and of many others. The threepaired dances (Lamento di Tristano and La Manfredina, both witha following rotta, and a Danqa Amorosa with a followingtroto) are constructedon different patterns fromthe estampies. They are rhythmically much simpler and do not necessarilyimply performance by single couples on a forwardand back dance track. The first dance in each pair is in one dance metre throughout,and the afterdance is in a different one. This degree of is the antithesisof estampie, where some of the metrical changes can involvecomsimplicity plex footwork.All threedances are in manuscriptsof Italian provenance, but thereare hints of acculturation. Tristan's Lament and its rotta are followed in the manuscript by La Manfredina and its rotta, and it could perhaps be surmised that the Italian piece was a local essay somewhat after the manner of the previous one, whose origins seem to be far distant from fourteenth-century Italy. La Manfredina is in the same dance metre as Tristan's Lament, and it has similar rhythmicpatterns and even bits of Tristan's melodic line. Its
" See Arena, op. cit., p. 21, for etiquette in the case of miscalculation in dancing basses danses.


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internal structure,however,is not convoluted and it lacks the flowingmelodic arches of the previous piece:
1. 2. 3. Lamento di Tristano B Ci) Aii) Ai) .. .. .. Cii) .. .. .. Ciii) x/y
.. ..

Rotta A x/y D

.. ..

La Manfredina & Rotta A w/z 1. B x/z 2. C y/z 3.

(in McGee's edition, ABC in the second punctum of Tristan's Lament is omitted)

used There are hintsof regional acculturationsin other items also. Of the fourfragments motets(Chose Tassin 1, 2 and 3 and Chose Loyset), McGee as tenorsfor thirteenth-century remarksthat 'They were probably not dances in the formwe find them here . . . the pieces do not seem to possess the regularityof rhythmusually associated with the other dance melodies or dance tenors included in this publication'. But all these are single puncta of material around which estampie, one punctum at a slowed-downtempo providingsufficient learnedly to contrive a motet. All consist of a constant unit followed by open and closed cadential units, and all have choreometricchanges. Tassin was apparently a notable dancer of long estampies, and the three separate puncta which bear his name are each on a difand one more complicated. Loyset'sis a miniature straightforward ferentpattern,two fairly on the same kind of choreometricplan as one of Tassin's. But of the fourthirteenth-century English pieces in this volume, only two have much connection with estampie in the French like that in the other two.'2 Like the sense, and even theyare assembled on a micro-system simpler. dances in the Channsonnier du Roi, the three in Harley 978 are progressively Unlike them, theyhave no choreometricalchanges (this might make them ductia inJohanof the threefollowsthe overall nes de Grocheo's sense). In the lower of the two parts, the first pattern for a single punctum of estampie, with a constantunit having open and closed endings. That unit, however, is made from repeated smaller units which themselvesconsistof tinymotifs,firstopen and then closed:
'As/t :11 2Bu/w :11 I
4 :11 S :11 6.



The numbers 1-6 merelydefine successive modules, each lasting less than ten seconds at dancing tempo; together,theymake a single dance routine. The second and third dances also have an additional part throughout,but the functionhere may have been more than merelydecorative. The second is made fromrepetitionsof only two tinymodules, the same higher length as in the previous item. But the second time round, they are pitched a fifth than before, with the added part now below. Since the added parts are learnedly contrived, this may have been no more than a device for making listeningmusic from small dance music (whose effectin its original contextand dancing lengthwould have been physical and successive versesof a cumulative), a parallel, perhaps, to the present-dayhabit of shifting popular song or dance tune up by a tone or semitone. But in practice, the shiftgives a differenttonal end to its section, open where it had previouslybeen closed. This is the reverse of the pattern of a punctum of estampie. It suggeststhat the complete dance routine was perhaps not just the foursections as numbered, but a minimum of six, with a da capo, and length, the actual end at the closed formof the second module. At a reasonable performing this would mean many alterations of AABx/y and AABx/z, finishingwith the closed By, and the spatial implication of communal dance on a round floor pattern:
'Ai) FINE :11 2Bxi)/yCIl 11 'Aii) :11 4Bxii)/z0P 11 D.C.

The third dance is made from only one module, firstopen and then closed, played five times. This is pitched a fifth higher in the last three, again with the added part now below. At this degree of simplicity,processional seems the most likely floor pattern. One could
2 There are traces of this in some archaic modules incorporated into English dance tunes first notated in the seventeenthcenturyand in a fewWelsh pieces notated in the eighteenthcentury. It was still a viable method of construction in the Gaelic regions of Scotland and Ireland until the end of the seventeenth century.


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surmisethat thissequence of itemsmightrepresentthe actual dancing order. First,the more difficult foreigndance, albeit in a simplifiedform; then a communal round dance, perhaps with intermittent figures; and finallya processional or promenade off. The single dance fromDouce 139 seems a more hybridaffair,its structureobscured by the scribe's arbitrary numbering and possibly a small omission in the notation of the penultimate module. Though numbered 1 to 10, it is actually in threesections. The first is simplythreestatementsof one module open and closed, the closed formbeing made by an addition to the open form, not by a substitution; the only differencebetween the three statementsis in the first note, successivelyA, C and F. The second section has two modules, each open and closed. All these are slightly longer than in the dances in the other manuscript. The third section consistsof a single module played three times, with slightly different figurationeach time, and a new module with a closed cadential unit; then the previousmodule, slightly expanded, played twice,followedby another new module but with the same cadential unit. The whole routine is rounded offwith a repeated coda, to which parts are added above and below in the repeat:



'As/s+t I I I/ I I-/ 4Bu/w I 5Cx/y 11 6D D 7D SEzcI 11 9D+

D + I F*zCI11 IG


(*two notes seem to be omitted here)

This looks like an insular acculturation of estampze. There are threedistinctpuncta, but the firsttwo, assemblages of tinyopen and closed motifslike the dance tunes in Harley 978, are not on an estampie kind of pattern. The third comes closer; but the constant unit has uneven repetitions,the pre-cadential unit is different in each half, while the cadential unit is identicallyclosed each time. There are, however,touches of mixed dance metreat the same points as in some French estampies, and in the coda thereseems to be somethinglike a fiddler's postlude, of the verykind Timothy McGee speculates about in his remarkson performance practices. The earliest music to which an estampie-typename has been attached is Kalenda Maya, and this is the first item in McGee's notations. The medieval tale was that Raimbaut de Vaqueiras made a text to it afterhearing it played by two jongleurs, but the only known notation of the music dates from nearly a hundred years after Raimbaut's death in the first decade of the thirteenth century. Putting text and music togetherdoes not constitutewhat the author calls 'vocal estampie' any more than putting the text 'Land of Hope and Glory' to part of one of Elgar's exercises in Pomp and Circumstance constitutesa 'vocal march'. The music is in three sections. However interpreted rhythmically,it implies changing choreographic patterns; and if the notation is interpreted literally and in choreometric terms, rather than according to formulas which may be validly applicable to quite other musical constructs,those patterns are complex in a rather different way frommost estampzes. Raimbaut's text consistsof fivestanzas, each of which is made on the complete threesection dance routine, which may itselfhave been only one punctum of a longer estampida. The context is clear from the veryfirstline. This was one of the spring dances, a male exhibitionistsolo (as, presumably,were those of Tassin and Loyset) here safelywithinthe formal confinesof courtoisie. At the end of the final stanza, the poet reminds his patron, the Marquis of Montferrat,that he has now 'constructedand finishedthe estampida'. It was at the court at Montferratthat Raimbaut heard the prototype(and no doubt saw it danced). Had the marquis or one of his courtiersmade a wager that the poet would not be able to make an extended poem on such a complex pattern? The textconsistently reveals rhythmic subtleties(no doubt manifestin the original performance), which the musical notation, incapable of signalling metacrusis in tinymodules, could not. These text details also make choreometricsense, altogether in keeping with the character of a solo dance with intricate footwork:
ABwi)c' /wii)c'DEycl /zcl.
CXoP /wi0)C1.

(diacrusis in B and C)


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Souvent Souspire, which followsKalenda Maya in thisedition, is generallythoughtto be on a similar pattern. It has, however, a much simpler text, only the simplest change in dance metre, and a different tonal plan:
Ac' :11 Bc1:11 C B C D0P 11

Timothy McGee suggeststhat in both cases the last two lines, which he calls a refrain,should be repeated. This would deform the structureand the dramatic shape of both items. He questions whetherthe two Czech items (Czaldy Waldy) were in fact dance music, but to the basic states that theyhave twopartes and are writtenin black notes, 'thus conforming format of the basse danse'. The only thing these two Czech dances have in common is that their firstmodule is open and all the others are closed. One is smooth and elegantly balanced. Its modular plan and rhythmicpattern seem unusual compared with western European notated dances, but theymay not have been unusual in central Europe:
ABx0P' AAyCl 11 Cy* Dy (*defective notation) Cy

The other is a more boisterous affair, through-composedin four modules with identical patterns recall dance metre in each except for the third. Its motor impulse and rhythmic some of the quick duple-time dances which have lasted into this century in parts of Bohemia, particularly wedding dances. There is little chance of knowing why these two centuries.But bearand earlyfifteenth in the late fourteenth itemswere committedto writing ing in mind the ritual and conservativecharacter of music for rites of passage, weddings among them, one could imagine the elegant one as the ritual dance of a newly married couple, followed by the livelyone for all the company. In termsof presentation,is it not time that authors refrainedfromusing the historicpresent in print? While it may have some use in classroom discussion on specific points or viewpoints,in print it conflates centuries and dissipates all sense of chronology.Jerome of Moravia, Johannes de Grocheo and othersdo not 'tell us'; theywroteof particular timesand in particular circumstances. If technical evidence about dance from the twelfthcentury onwards is taken into account, it seems clear that, while some highlylearned and literate people were personally and intimatelyacquainted with contemporarysocial dances, others were less so; but it was the latter who were more likely to put their opinions into written form. SirJack Westrup remarked that 'elegant descriptionis not the same as definition,but it is not always easy to separate the two'. 3 One may add that, in any historicalfield, some attempt to define the nature of past describersis desirable, and that relevant tools of analysis are essential. Where physical techniques of any kind are involved, some degree of realistic acquaintance with them is equally essential. Timothy McGee's book is indeed speculative; he has speculated in areas where at least some facts are known and failed to speculate conin others where they are not. It is not a focused study. Most fundamentally,he structively has failed to recognize that social dance and its music (however the lattermay be executed) are Siamese twins. In the field of research into the historyof dance, besides being literate and 'noterate' it is necessaryalso to be 'canterate' and 'moterate'.

Westrup, op. cit., p. 30.


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