pennsicdance: Music from the pennsic Pile

Vanessa Layne dagoura at MIT.EDU
Thu Mar 30 16:41:20 PST 2000

Greg writes:

> No. I would like to see more 2-part arrangements where the bass line
> can be played by all the non-melody instruments. Ellisif wrote a few
> years ago; it's been discussed a few times on sca-dance, etc etc.

Heck, the middle parts are the hard parts -- I can churn out period
bass parts by the bucket.  If that's what we want.

> However, the Pennsic Pile is more than just music for Pennsic. For
> ECD, I would like to see 4-part arrangements for everything.

Why?  It seems to me (just put the finishing touches on my 4-p "Upon a
Summer's Day") that they (and the bransles and galliards) are
precisely the best suited to monophonic (or, let us be honest,
heterophonic ;) playing.

Polyphony strikes me as most important and suitable to (in decending
order of importance) basse dances, some balli (El Gioioso, e.g.),
pavans and almans.

Also, in my experience, most arrangements for ECD are difficult to
play.  If you're trying to apply 16th/17th cen. voice-leading to ECD
(I have discovered) the moment you start filling in middle parts,
things start necessarily getting complicated -- you wind up having to
move a lot, and sometimes in odd and awkward ways.  Part of that is
because many ECD pieces are crummy ones to try to apply voice-leading
to; they have tremendous ranges and big jumps and don't Play Nice with
lower parts which have to jump and dodge around with them.  You tend
to get evil, busy, difficult middle lines.  *Especially* if you want
two of them.

Of the ECD arrangements I've made, I'd only consider, um, 3 of them
really accessible to a pick-up band: Jenny Pluck Pears (which is only
3 part), Maiden Lane, the outer two parts of three of Parson's
Farewell, and the one third I contributed to the
She'erah-Aurylia-Tibicen Dargason Variations.  (1+1+.333334+.666666=3)
I'm really proud of my Upon a Summer's Day (4 part), and my Rufty
Tufty, Heartsease, If all the World Were Paper, Fain I Would all have
merit.  But I wouldn't expect a pickup band to present them without
serious difficulty.  

And it isn't just me -- the parts arrangement to Sellinger's Round
from (IIRC) FitzWilliam is tremendously difficult to read at tempo.  I
know -- the first time I ever saw it I was on the bandstand at Pennsic
19 or so, playing the tenor line.  Marshal Barron has pleanty of
finger twisters among her 3-ps.

And ECD, as a rule, is played fast which aggravates the problem, from
the stand point of pick-up-dance-band usability.

Hmmm.  I did go on again, didn't I?  Sorry, just thinking aloud.

-- Tibicen

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