pennsicdance:sheet music interp

Greg Lindahl lindahl at
Thu Sep 15 20:47:28 PDT 2005

On Thu, Sep 15, 2005 at 11:49:12AM -0500, whirlygig wrote:

> What I think is lacking here for everyone- are the markings that tell the
> mood the composer set the piece - and/or how many internal beats the quarter
> notes get per minute, (the speed you set your metronome/click track.)
> I.E Common markings:  Lento / Largo (10-60), Larghetto (61-72), Adagio
> (72-81), Andante (82-101), Moderato (102-124), Allegro (125-176), Presto
> (177-197), Prestissimo (199-300).  There are secondary marks that were also
> used like "animato", or "con brio" (with brightness); but we'll leave that
> be for now.

Those terms are post-period. You said that choral music from the 15th
and 16th centuries have tempo markings, but it doesn't -- you're
looking at Victorian-era transcriptions if you see 'em.

In period, the 4 misura in 15c dances are bassadanza, quadneria,
saltarello, and piva. 3 of these are also step names, so it's suitably
confusing to read about them. Alas for us, the music generally doesn't
have the tempo name indicated, but sometimes the dance descriptions
say "In the next part, in 4 tempi of quadneria the man will dance blah
blah..." In Amoroso's case, I don't think the tempo appears in the

In the manuscripts, the relative speeds of these misura are discussed.

> the dance music seems to have lost that
> critical musical notation, at least in the SCA books.

The new typesettings of the 15c Italian music in Joy and Jealousy have
the markings inserted.

> But the
> music works best when the piece isn't played in cut time, where the eighth
> notes become 16ths,

That isn't what cut time means, nor are the note values in a modern
transcription the same as note values in the period manuscript. In
general you'd think that the notes in a period manuscript are very
large compared to how fast they get played -- a galliard may get
written with 6 half-notes or whole notes per measure, while a modern
transcription would generally use 6 quarter notes.

> Petit Vrens- Allegro/Presto all the way.

... just like Amoroso, they're both pivas ;-)

-- Gregory

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