The final cadence of the basse dance presents a special problem because the last two notes of the tenor are almost always repeated and the final note is a long, not a breve. During these two notes the dancers are dancing the final two steps of the dance (usually a demarche followed by a bransle plus the final congé. The tenor usually moves by a step on the note before the final two notes, thus if the musicians cadence at the obvious place, the dancers must dance the final two steps plus the congé with no indication as to the tempo of the dance.
In three or more voice texture, it is possible to delay the final cadence to the final longa of the tenor. Sparks notes that this was done in a number of early Fifteenth Century motets by the device of having the countertenor end a fifth below the tenor. Although this would change the final mode of the piece, it would allow the countertenor and descant voices to cadence on the final note rather than the penultimate note of the tenor.
Another solution (the one I have most often used) is to allow the voices to cadence on the penultimate note of the tenor, but one of the voices (usually the descant) makes a small cadenza at that point, joining in the final cadence on the second breve of the final longa of the tenor. In Alenchon, I end the cadenza a fifth above the final, and then move to the octave on the second breve of the final long (when the dancers would dance the final congé. I do not know how this compares with the way our forefathers would have played the basse dance, but I believe it makes it easier for the dancers to dance it.
Onward to: Chapter 14: On Improvisation and Composition.
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