Discussion on SCA-dance


After sitting dormant on rendance for about 6 months, the subject popped up on the sca-dance mailing list, with similar disagreement between all concerned. I have trimmed some of these posts as they repeated what was said earlier on rendance.


From: Kirsten

Subject: Re: [SCA-Dance] we're here to make music for you! (long)

Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2002 17:47:25

Greetings all...

Ok, in addition to the suggestions I sent privately, I second the motion for a danceable recording for BELLA Gioiosa.

Which begs a question. I have a beautiful recording of Bella Gioiosa (which was the first 16th century Italian I ever learned, btw), but it does not accord with the dance as taught by y'all out east. A friend of mine taught the dance here a few weeks ago (the eastern version), and while similar to what I learned in Europe, it had a very odd repeat structure as well as some moves which, to my mind, were rather extraneous. Could someone explain the eastern version to me? Where it came from, that sort of thing?

In search of knowledge...

Julian ferch Rhys


From: David Reyes

Subject: Bella Gioiosa WAS Re: [SCA-Dance] we're here to make music for you! (long)

Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 05:46:04

I can't speak for Etienne, but I think he might object to being credited as an easterner. Of course, for us in the dance wasteland, even Northshield is east... Yes, this one is my fault. Sigh. I think that I got a lot more out of the experience than the dancers I tried teaching it to.

The main difference between Etienne's reconstruction and the one Julian had learned was that some of the verses did not repeat the chorus in Julian's version. These probably correspond to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th verses in Etienne's reconstruction, the solos. The recording Julian just got appears to work to her version, which means it must have an uneven repeat structure, whereas Etienne's reconstruction uses the same music for seven repeats.

There was also disagreement with the reconstruction of the fioretti a pie pari. Julian and I didn't actually discuss at the time how she learned it, so I'll let her elaborate on that.



From: Steven Bush

Subject: [SCA-Dance] Re: Bella Gioiosa

Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 19:00:56

Greetings from Etienne.

The Eastern-Rite ;-) version is my fault.

So, why did I reconstruct the dance the way I did? There was a discussion of this on Rendance, recently. Well, that could be answered in two possible ways. The simple and not really correct answer would be to say that the recording I had for the music ran through seven times, for both the verse and the chorus.

The actual reason is that I felt the dance worked the best that way. Unfortunately, with reconstruction, there are some ambiguities and we can never be sure exactly what the original author really meant, whether it is due to changes in the language (or our lack of familiarity with it), things the author assumed everyone should know or typos.

In reading through the original Italian and examining the music, I decided that instructions could be interpreted one of two ways, either the individual turns (Spez, Cadenza) happen only once, at the end of the first verse [repeat structure Ax2, Bx3, Ax10] or they happen after every verse [(Ax2, Bx3)x7]. Though the first "seems" to be suggested by the text, thelatter made more sense to me, from both a musical point of view and because I have never seen another Cascarda with an irregular repeat structure. So, in essence, it was the music that "told" me how to do the dance.

The text never says that the individual turns should repeat, but the music suggests this to me. Caroso also appears to say that the solos (starting Passo, Passo, Cadenza) should come one after another, before the joust*. If this were true and the solo turns come after every verse then the repeats would be Ax2, Bx3, Ax4, Bx3, (Ax2, Bx3)x3. To me, this makes even less sense then the first version I listed. I chalk up the differences between my version and literal translation as one of those ambiguities.

*For those not familiar with my reconstruction, the 2nd - 4th verses are: (solo, joust, individual turns)x3. If anyone would like a copy of my reconstruction, email me directly and I will send you a copy (text, Word doc or PDF). If there is enough interest, I will post a copy to the list (text). If you want to compare mine to the original, it is available on Greg's website.


From: Kirsten

Subject: [SCA-Dance] Re: Bella Gioiosa

Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 15:03:44

My "best guess" reconstruction of what Il Ballarino is saying repeats what Caroso says to repeat only after he says to repeat it, however this makes the dance have a very odd chorus / repeat structure

It makes it look like AABBBAAAA AAA AA AA (as I believe Etienne later posted). Caroso only explicitly states that one dances the steps we've come to associate with the "B" music in verse one (using the paragraphs in the original as "verses" and ignoring, for the time being, the commonly-accepted "missing" paragraph indicator after the spezz-cadenza passages in verse one).


It also means that it doesn't match the structure of any of the other Cascarde.

I don't know if I'm comfortable with saying something is explicitly, absolutely, wrong. After all, we extrapolated what we consider the "rules" of a cascarda from Caroso's dances, so I'm not entirely certain I'm happy with throwing one out the window or declaring it's wrong just because it doesn't fit with our pre-conceived notion of what the dance should look like. Look at the debates over 'Il Bel Fiore' and 'Argeers', where elaborate reconstructions were made to fix what were perceived by modern standards as errors in the text (resulting in very interesting variations from the original source), and where it was later demonstrated that if one simply followed the text as written, while the result was not what modern eyes conceived of as "correct", the dance did work. I'm an archaeologist by profession, and a lot of my discomfort at the idea that "the source is just wrong" comes from seeing professional archaeologists discount (and indeed in some cases destroy or bury) evidence which did not accord with their theory of what should be coming from a particular site. It's something of which we should all be wary.


It also doesn't match the instructions for the music which say to play AABBB each time.

With this, I cannot argue. I believe it comes down to a choice of whether one wished to be guided by the text or the music. I believe Etienne declared that he was guided by the music. I cannot see that either side is more correct than the other, although personally I tend more towards the text. Matter of personal choice, however. :)


Etienne makes the additional compensation of suggesting that the solo is done 3 times, and not once, as is suggested by one of the phrases in the original.

Yes, Caroso does say that each person is to do an individual solo made up of 2 passi, a cadenza, 5 seguiti battuti, 2 riprese, 2 trabuchetti, a spezz and a cadenza. However, it is the addition of the jousting section into each verse following the solo that I cannot agree with, and I think it is the heart of my difficulties with the "Eastern Rite" Bella Gioiosa (thanks Etienne! What a great phrase! :). Caroso very definitely states that *all three* solos are done first and *then* the jousting part begins (Cio fatto, giostraranno insieme...). {BTW, getting the 5 seguiti batturi in there isn't all that difficult. Just takes some getting used to. ;)


Since the wording in Caroso is obviously somewhat faulty, getting a workable and correct dance out of it is probably more important than fitting exactly with his instructions.

I will agree that the wording is somewhat odd. I will also agree that getting a workable and enjoyable dance out of it is of utmost importance. However, I think that we are placing undue emphasis on the symmetry and regularity of the dance in stating that changing it to the degree that Etienne has done (making it AABBBx7 and therefore "regular") makes it "correct". Many of Caroso's dances do not have this type of extreme regularity in Il Ballarino. After all, he did make a point in Nobilita of saying that his earlier dances were often incorrect, being, as they were, most asymmetrical and irregular. He then goes on to "fix" some of his earlier creations! One can only wonder what he would have done with Bella Gioiosa had he chosen to include it in ND.