pennsicdance: Music from the pennsic Pile

Vanessa Layne dagoura at MIT.EDU
Thu Mar 30 17:29:02 PST 2000

Greg writes:

> I've got to wonder where all those many-part ECD arrangements came
> from, not to mention all those many-part bransles and galliards. Sure,
> if you only have 1-3 musicians, you can't play all those parts. But
> there seems to be good evidence that with more musicians, they had
> lots of parts.

Who said they didn't?  But because they had part arrangements does
not mean that they didn't also do mono/heterophony.  Just because we
have modern dance bands using part arrangements doesn't mean we don't
have bands not using parts.

I assure you, *I* use parts in my band (except where we don't :).
We're *waytes*.  The folks on the bandstand at Pennsic are more like
*minstrels*, coming together to jam.  Different circumstance.

> As I've said several times, the Pennsic Pile has a purpose other than
> just being played by a pick-up band at Pennsic. One of its purposes
> was to provide a method of publishing arrangements by SCAdians. 

I've long thought that myself, but I'm beginning now to wonder if
that's not a burdensome requirement upon the Pile.  It being the
Pennsic Pile, and not "This Year's Advances in Dance Music", if there
is a conflict between providing good music for pick up bands and being
a vehicle for new arrangements, shouldn't the second of those goals
give way?

If nothing else, available dance tunes are not infinite; you don't
need (probably :) yet another "Jenny Pluck Pears"....

> For
> example, if you have done any arrangements since Pennsic 24 or so,
> I've never seen them.

... so why should I send you mine for the Pile?  Consistency from year
to year is a value.  A particularly important one, at that.  Surely
you don't want to be swapping in and out versions all the time; surely
if you got two "Gathering Peascods" you wouldn't run both in the Pile
just to get they out, even if they both were worthy.

I'm happy to give you copies of my arrangements -- I intend to put
them on the web (am short of tuits).  But I don't necessarily write to
beginners.  I have some bored bass players, one with a penchant for
eighthnotes.  Thus, my "Rusty Tufty" probably REALLY doesn't belong in
front of a pickup band.

Would I like to get my music out to more people?  Sure, I suppose
(though not sufficiently enough to motivate me, evidently, to spend
more time doing so.)  But the Pennsic Pile shouldn't serve arrangers
at the expense of the Pennsic Dance Band.  The Band has almost nothing
left to spare, and arrangers have other options.

My wish is that the Pile be a source of *good* music -- music that's
in a period style, attractive, danceable, and reasonably accessible to
a pick-up band -- not necessarily *great* music.  If we get good *and*
great, that's, well, great. :) But greatness in music is often in
conflict with accessibility under the adverse considitions in which we

Don't get me wrong: I'd *love* to see great (copyleft!) arrangements
getting out to the masses, more advanced material, odd
instrumentations ("Here's our arrangement for 5 sopranos and a string
bass"), divisions and other ornamentation.  So if someone wanted to
give away copies of that *too* on the bandstand, that's grand.  But
the band, if we are to have a band, needs music which serves its
humbler purpose.

-- Tibicen

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