pennsicdance: modern vs. historical instruments and music(wasreplyto comments from Octavio de Flores)

White, John john.white at
Tue Aug 30 07:35:58 PDT 2005

> From:  Zukauskas
> This sounds a lot like the GOOP dance dilemma - "well, people 
> already know
> those dances, so let's keep doing them" becomes "well people 
> already have a
> flute, trumpet, etc, so let them play."  The goal, I think,  
> should  be to
> move towards more period instruments.  Modern instruments do 
> not sound the
> same, as Iohann pointed out in his examples of modern 
> orchestras recording
> early music.  Nowadays, there are many reasonably priced renaissance
> instruments available - use of a modern equivalent is just 
> not the same.  I
> realize we are not a strict reenactment society, but is that 
> a reason to
> just give up and say "anything goes"?

This is absolutely what I was trying to avoid - conflating the
"period instruments" argument with the "period dances" argument.
They aren't apples and oranges, but perhaps they are Granny
Smith apples and Golden Delicious apples!

We should, absolutely, strive for as accurate a reproduction of
medieval music as we can achieve/stand.  That said, there *is*
a price barrier to achieving that goal.  We could say "You can't
play in the SCA unless your instruments are period or period-analogues",
but that be cutting off our noses despite our faces - we would end up
with rather less live music than we currently have, and I don't think
anyone would argue that we have so much live, period music that we
can afford to sacrifice large swatches of our musicians to our 
best-practice ethics.

There is, however, no such price barrier to achieving the period
dance goal.  We've got hundreds of period dances, even if we (as I
constantly fear) remove Playford's 1st Edition ECD (I did, btw, 
"grow up" in the SCA thinking that 1650 was the cut-off), of all
sorts of skill levels, with more being unearthed ... well, not
daily, but every once in a while.  We sacrifice nothing to our
best-practice ethics in this matter, except (perhaps) for some
amount of people who refuse to understand what the SCA basically
is.  Those who insist on out-of-period dance are the equivalent 
of the elf-ears, the bunny-fur bikinis, the football pad-wearing 
stick jocks, etc.  

There was, for the longest time, an egalitarian feel to the SCA.
Anyone could participate, regardless of income.  Perfectly
acceptable garb can be had for $20, and if you have to save up
for that, there's always Gold Key.  Dancing costs nothing, events
only cost their entrance fee, and you can usually get loaner feast
gear, playing period games and listening to (period) music are 
also free.  Some things do cost - period tentage, safe armor,
fancy garb, authentic musical instruments - but so far, none of
those are required (well, if you want to fight, you either borrow
or buy, or you don't fight, and not everyone even wants to fight).

Period, authentic musical instruments are like period tentage -
desirable, but not necessarily possible for everyone at all times.
Perhaps period-style arrangements of music is a better goal, as
long as we have people knowledgable enough to provide the musicians
with such.  But the lack of the ability for everyone to have an
authentic period musical instrument doesn't mean people shouldn't
strive to attain one, nor does it mean that we should just do GOOP
dances because we have always done so.  With dance, we DON'T HAVE
TO SETTLE.  And that's that.

> Marie
> BTW,  My apologies to John White - I inadvertently sent this 
> message only to
> you, instead
> of the the entire list - I was not trying to pick on you, 
> just continue the
> discussion.  Thats what
> I get for being in a hurry to post...
No problem - I saw both messages at the same time in my in-box.
Perhaps the list administration change will avoid these things
(like the almost-goof I made in sending this straight back to
you, instead of to the list ...)


More information about the pennsicdance mailing list