Basse Dance Sources

The following are the sources for basse dance material referred to in this web site. See Crane [1968] for more details. Most of the primary sources have single letter codes.

B --- Brussels Mansucript 9085

One of the most intriquing and most important sources for the basse dance. It once belonged to Margrite d'Autriche (Marie of Hungary). The pages are black with lettering in gold and silver (Picture of page). The first six pages give a treatise on the basse dance and the remaining pages have the music for 58 dances. Most are notated in silver (to indicate blackening?) breves, although 4 dances (Franchoise nouvelle, Beaulte de Castile, La Danse de Ravestain, and La Danse de Cleves) are irregular and the last two appear to be fragments.

A transcription of the Brussels MS is available on line from Institute of Historical Dance in Belgium.

T --- Michel Toulouze, S'ensuit l'art et instruction de bien dancer.

This is the first known printed manual on dance instruction. Only known copy: London, Royal College of Physicians. The instructions in this manual and in B are nearly identical and there is substantial overlap between the two sources. Note that the Brussels MS appears to have fewer errors than the Toulouze Imprint.

Reprinted in facsimile with translation by A. E. Lequet and musical transcription by Richard Rastall, S.R. Publishers, Ltd. [1971].

S --- Salisbury,Cathedral Library copy of Johannes Balbus de Janua. Catholicon

Entered on the first paper flyleaf of this book are the steps of 20 basse dances. Much of the manuscript contains English garbling of the French and in several places the hand is difficult to make out.

A transcription of the Salisbury MS is available on line from Institute of Historical Dance in Belgium.

V --- Antonio Cornazano, Libro dell' arte del danzare

Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS. Capponiano No. 203. This treatise properly belongs to the early 15th Century Italian bassadanza rather than the Burgundian basse dance. He does, however, give a few tenors for use with bassadanza, with instructions to musicians to cut of a piece as long as is necessary.

Bux --- Buxheim Organ Book

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cim. 352b. This is an enormous collection of music in tablature written between 1450 and 1470. It contains many concordances with basse dance tenors and many examples of improvisation over a cantus firmus.

A modern performance edition containing many of the basse dance settings can be found in London Pro Musica EK4. (There is also a companion volume that contains chanson originals for some of the pieces in that volume). Naxos has put out the music from Buxheim on three CDs under the title Das Buxheimer Orgelbuch. Volume 2 (Naxos 8.55347) contains the basse dance and chansons. The tempo is a bit slow and not quite consistent enough for dancing.

J --- S'ensuyvent plusiers basses dances, (Jacques Moderne?)

S'ensuyvent plusiers basses dances, tan communes que incommunes, comme on poura veyr cy dedans Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Coll. Rothschild, vi-3, bis-66, No. 19. There is no publisher or date but it is believed to be published by Jacques Moderne in the early 16th Century. It appears to be an abbridged version of T, but it may be an important bridge between the 15th and 16th Century basse dances.

A --- Arena (Sixteenth Cent.)

Anthonius Arena Soleriensis Provincialis ad suos compagniones studiantes ... is a treatise dating from 1529 and contains 31 a number of basse dances in the 16th century style. A few of them may be successors to the 15th Century tradition.

Note that Dr. Brainard's reconstruction of the basse dance reverance is from this source.

C --- Cervera, Archivo Historico, Ms.

Two unattached paper leaves found in a notational manual. It is one of the pages is dated 1496. The document gives the steps for several dances but no music.

F --- Torino, Archivi Biscaretti, Mazzo

Names of 54 basse dances with their steps. Dated 1517 and dances are in 16th Century style, with many concordances with A and J.

L --- Robert Coplande, the maner of dauncynge of bace daunces after the use of fraunce & other places

This appears to be an early 16th Century translation of the basse dance corpus (from a source similar to B or T) into English. The complete text, in modernized spelling, is in M. Dolmetsch, Dances of England and France from 1450 to 1600, London, 1949.

P --- Paris, Biliotheque national, f. fr. 5699 (anice f. fr. 10279)

This manuscript can be dated to 1445 which makes it the earliest source of French basse dance choreographies. The notation is closer in style to the earlier Italian bassadanza than to B or T.

Back to [Listing by Length] [Alphabetical Listing]
References (including modern studies).

[Early Dance Music]
[Basse Dance Pages] [30th Year Dance Collection ]

These pages designed and maintained by Russell Almond
Last modified: Sun March 9 17:39:38 1997