Time and Tempo


Duple and Triple Time

There are two basic tempi used in 16th century Italian dance. These are duple time and triple time. Duple time is usually slower, with two beats per bar, and triple time is faster with three beats per bar.



Most of the balli are done in duple time. Negri nearly always starts his balli in duple time and changes to triple time at some later stage, and occasionally back to duple time again. Caroso usually starts his balli in duple time, and often but not always changes to triple time to finish.

Caroso's dances that begin with a duple time section and end with a triple time section are his classic “ballo and sciolta” dances. Dances like this, such as Contentezza d'Amore and Bassa Honorata form the majority of Caroso's balli.

Some of Caroso's balli are entirely in duple time. This includes such dances as Ballo del Fiore, Conto dell'Orco, and the various Contrapasso dances. Because they are simpler and slower than the other dances and don't have time changes, they are often the easiest dances to teach and learn from this repertiore.



Some of Caroso's dances are called “Cascarde”. A cascarda is in triple time all of the way through the dance, and usually has a simple verse/chorus structure. They usually have 4 or 5 verses, although some have as many as 7. Fiamma d'Amore, Gracca Amorosa, and Fedelta are examples of cascarde.

Spagnoletta is an example of one of Caroso's dances that is in triple time throughout, but is not a cascarda. Conto dell'Orco is an example of a Caroso dance that remains in duple time throughout, but has a verse/chorus structure very similar to that of a cascarda. So there are exceptions to every rule.



Triple time sections in balli may also include galliard and canary sequences. A galliard sequence is played and danced in the same sort of tempo as a French galliard. There may be specific galliard choreographies laid out, but often there is just a statement such as “the gentleman does 4 galliard patterns” which indicates that some form of improvisation in the galliard is expected.



A Canary sequence is also in triple time, but uses a specific tune and syncopated beat of 1½ / ½ / 1 beat music in which specific canary steps (described in the section on Il Canario) are used.