English Country Dance
Looking for those playing piano, cello,
flute, recorder, oboe or clarinet to play for a local monthly dance
ECD Music is played much like an
informal chamber music with an ensemble
of piano and 1 - 4 melody/counter melody
musicians; it is relatively straightforward and unarranged
ECD music is substantially proto-classical, the popular music from 1650-1850.
The melodies originally came from popular song and folk music. Much
is period anonymous work, but there are also melodies of Purcell, Handel,
Haydn, Jeremiah Clarke, William Byrd, Thomas Ford, Corelli, Holst.....and
contemporary compositions of today...all lovely, lively melodies. You
can hear some of this music played by me and others ensemble
Playing ECD calls for:
Some of the pleasures of ECD music-making include:
- the ability to keep a consistent tempo and play relatively straightforward
music at about 112 bpm. At a dance, some sight-reading may be necessary.
- an ability to play expressively and do simple improvisational backup
when not playing the melody...a sort of arrangment on the fly.
- an ability to play to the dance and the dancers; the music is subordinate
to the dance.
The dance form itself is gorgeous: if you saw any of the Jane Austin movies
or Shakepeare In Love, you've seen the dance, which has an almost balletic
choreography. It was the dominant social activity for 300 years...before
the telephone, it was one of the primary ways people got together to talk,
court, flirt, gossip and generally socially interact. You dance with
everyone in turn...and you do get to know them, men and women all.
- a most appreciative audience of intelligent, interesting people.
- the ability to perform monthly or even weekly for the rest of your life
- world class musicianship not required, only moderate skill, commitment
and a love of music/dance.
- the fun of ensemble music-making without the rigor of full-house classical
- Playing this proto-classical music in its original context.
- The melodies! The classical composers were immersed in a sea of
the material of their art. Much classical music was borrowed or had
inspiration here in this mother lode, as refinement and arrangment of popular
music and dance music......bourees, sarabands, gigues!
It is still danced: here's a YouTube video of current dancing.
Contact Stewart Dean: 336-4815, firstname.lastname@example.org