pennsicdance: Music from the pennsic Pile

Vanessa Layne dagoura at MIT.EDU
Thu Mar 30 15:52:41 PST 2000

She'erah writes:

> Definitely want an arrangement of that.  Probably a couple, at least one
> of the period ones and also a simple one.  (Falla con Misuras is lovely,
> for instance, but not easily sight-read.)

.... which was precisely the philosophical issue I alluded to previously.

I'm soliciting opinions, if only for my own consideration:

  With the given that being virtuosic is, alas, intrinsically part of the
  basse dance music genre (as extant Spagnas seem to indicate), would
  an easy-to-read-and-play Spagna, in a period style in all other ways 
  (which is admittedly not much, since we just sacrificed the most
  characteristic aspect of the basse dance "sound"), be (a) a tolerable
  compromise (b) an unspeakable abomination?

Let me make this extra clear for the non-musicians and for the
musicians not familiar with this genre: what makes a Spagna sound like
a Spagna is 20% using certain chords and 80% a particular kind of
rhythmic style which is alien to most modern musicians and often
"finger twisters", played, of necessity, blindingly quickly.  

Further, all of the energy of the music is in the virtuosity; an
easy-to-read Spagna would likely turn into a waltz played at a
dirge-like tempo.  There might well be negative ramifications for the

So this is not a easy question.  It's almost-but-not-quite on a par
with "what if we removed all the eighth-notes from the English Country
to make it easier?"  At least the ECD is familiar, stylistically, to a
modern musician, so the question has no pressing weight; we don't
*need* to dismember ECD tunes to be able to have live music from a
pickup band.  Basse dances are something else...

-- Tibicen

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