Medieval Instrumental Dances

Medieval Instrumental Dances

Timothy J. McGee
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/10/2014
ISBN: 978-0-253-01314-9
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In Europe the tradition of secular dance has continued unbroken until the present. In the late Middle Ages it was an important and frequent event—for the nobility a gracious way to entertain guests, for the peasantry a welcome relaxation from the toils of the day. Now back in print, this collection presents compositions that are known or suspected to be instrumental dances from before ca. 1420. The 47 pieces vary in length and style and come from French, Italian, English, and Czech sources. Timothy McGee relates medieval dances to the descriptions found in literary, theoretical, and archival sources and to the depictions in the iconography of the Middle Ages. In a section on instrumental performance practices, he provides information about ornamenting the dances and improvising in a historically appropriate style. This comprehensive edition brings together in one volume a repertory that has been scattered over many years and countries.

Author Bio

Timothy J. McGee is Honourary Professor at Trent University and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. His many books include Medieval and Renaissance Music: A Performer's Guide; Singing Early Music: The Pronunciation of European Languages in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance (IUP, 1996); and The Ceremonial Musicians of Late Medieval Florence (IUP, 2009).


““ . . . a fine collection . . . Handsomely designed and well-conceived, McGee’s orderly presentation references period literature and art to help define the role and vitality of dance in the Medieval world.” —American Recorder “It is well-documented, very readable, and packaged in a practical format that enhances its accessibility.” —Early Drama, Art, and Music Review “ . . . an invaluable edition, and it will be the primary starting place for any further study or performance of the dances.” —Speculum “This book represents an outstanding contribution. . . . Every historian, performer, and dancer interested in dance history should purchase it . . . and all music and dance libraries should add this one to their collections.” —Journal of the American Musicological Society ". . . [this edition] should be on the bookshelf of every medievalist and early-music performer, holding a place for dance and instrumental music both there and in our historical imagination while serving as a needed stimulus and focal point for teaching, performance, and future research.”—Notes This collection presents, in modern notation, all the compositions that are known or suspected to be instrumental dances from before ca. 1430. The 47 pieces vary in length and style and come from French, Italian, English, and Czech sources.”

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Table of Contents



The Evidence
Theoretical Statements and the Dance Repertory
Vocal Dances
Instrumental Dances


Other Dances
Dance Pairs and Trotto
Unidentified Dances
"Bel fiore dance"
"Chanconeta Tedescha"
"Czaldy Waldy"
"Chose Tassin"
No. 42


Round and Carol


Ornamentation and Improvisation
Theoretical Evidence
Ornamented Manuscripts
Improvisation over a Cantus Firmus
Improvising Additional Dance Material
Preludes and Postludes
Monophonic and Polyphonic Performance


Editorial Practices

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, fonds francais 22543
1a. Kalenda Maya
Paris, Bibliotheque l’Arsenal 5198
1b. Souvent Souspire
Oxford, Bodleian Libary, Douce 139

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, fonds francais 844c
3. [La Prime Estampie Royal]
4. La Seconde Estampie Royal
5. La Tierche Estampie Roial
6. La Quarte Estampie Royal
7. La Quinte Estampie Real
8. La Seste Estampie Real
9. La Septime Estampie Real
10. La Uitime Estampie Real
11. Dansse Real
13. Danse

London, British Library, Additional 29987
14. Ghaetta
15. Chominciamento di Gioia
16. Isabella
17. Tre Fontane
18. Belicha
19. Parlamento
20. In Pro
21. Principio di Virtu
22. Salterello [1]
23. Salterello [2]
24. Salterello [3]
25. Salterello [4]
26. Lamento di Tristano—La Rotta
27. La Manfredina—La Rotta della Manfredina
28. Trotto

Florence, Archivio di Stato, Antecosimiano No. 17879
29. Danca Amorosa—Troto

Prague, State Library XVII F9
30. Czaldy Waldy

Montpellier, Bibliotheque de la Faculte de Medecine MS H196
31. Chose Tassin [1]
32. Chose Tassin [2]
33. Ch