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  • Contradance "La Lejeune"

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    Hi dear friends,

    This is my first experiment with the Elite Strings and with the Synchron libraries altogether. A totally new experience and a good learning process. Since I love the 18th century 'light' music so much, it was rather obvious to start with such a piece. Moreover, it is very well fit for the strength of the Elite Strings. Maybe the overall sound is not quite OK yet, but I find it satisfactory as a first attempt. The source only provided a melody and a brief figured bass. So I had to make an arrangement for chamber orchestra. As said, I I used the Elite Strings and 3 synchronised flutes.

    La Lejeune

  • Many thanks, Jos; I found this piece very endearing.

    That surprised me; my tastes are usually miles away from the salon tradition. But this music is, broadly speaking, one vital element of a very special, universal and practically timeless cultural feature: namely, dance. My imagination and curiosity were kindled, filling in various scenes and trying to capture something of how it might have felt to be dancing to this piece in various different settings - rich and not so rich. Altogether very enjoyable!

    I found out that this particular genre of music and dance - the Contradance - has been very long-lived; a fine example of un idiome culturel de la noblesse, par la suite adopté et adapté par le peuple - and for the best of reasons. There is courtliness and courtesy in this piece, and yet it's also warmly affable and relaxed, with an easy-going and inclusive charm; no 'hierarchical' sycophancy or pretentiousness getting in the way. For me, the timeless breadth of humanity addressed and invoked by this music in its cultural context is what counts above all.

    A nice job for the VSL libraries you mentioned. And very well arranged and executed by you, Jos.

  • Thanks Macker.

    During my lifetime, I was able to collect hundreds of these little marvels and I've arranged so far about 100. Some are more country (peoples' dances), some more sophisticated (aristocracy). The odd thing is, the sources never provide an arrangement, because the musicians could improvise second and third voices and even contra-lines on the spot. For that purpose, most of them have a brief figured bass notation and of course a visual representation of the dance itself as a sort of manual for the dance master (who was often a violist).

    This was merely an attempt with the Elite Strings, not fully to my taste (yet). I wanted to have the second violins to the right to create a more balanced performance. I added a viola to the ensemble, although that was very rare in the dance music practice. Again to experiment with the E.S. and to have a more complete harmony.


  • Until now I'd never really thought much about figured bass notation beyond the basics I'd learned from studying Rameau's wonderful treatise years ago. But thanks to your work and explanation it now appears to me (if you'll forgive my naïveté) that some composers would perhaps have used figured bass notation in order to reach out towards best possible universality, knowing that, as you say, musicians could easily improvise - in apposite ways - their own versions of full arrangements. And dance is perhaps the most universal of all musical genres.

    I've no doubt musicians understand very well that we humans are all inclined to be parochial creatures at heart, in that we each tend to favour communications (verbal and non-verbal) couched in our own most familiar idiom. Hence in the case of working from no more than written melody & figured bass, an ensemble of players would naturally and intuitively improvise their arrangements as apposite to the natural idioms and ambiances of the milieux familiar to them in their performances.

    Thus I suppose, in principle at least, one dance piece written using the shorthand of one or two lines of melody with figured bass (together with, as you said, a visual representation of the dance's 'configuration'), could be welcomed as warmly and enthusiastically in, say, an 18th century central European aristocrat's salon, as in a 21st century country dance gig somewhere in the North American continent - all depending on what the musicians make of it at the particular time and place. (But I do appreciate that mostly these pieces, as you noted, are already somewhat fitted for particular kinds or 'classes' of milieux.)

    For me, fascinating as well as educational thoughts; and I thank you sincerely for that, Jos.

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on