The Tunes of the usual French Dances at COURT and DANCING SCHOOLS: the Repertoire and Musical Practice of Dancing Masters in Restoration England

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In Four and Twenty Fiddlers (312–19) and his facsimile edition of Matthew Locke’s ‘The Rare Theatricall’ (London, 1989), Peter Holman drew attention to the functional dance music in French style, known as brawls or branles, that formed part of the repertoire of the English court violin band during the Restoration. Holman demonstrated its twofold significance: firstly, as a large body of music for the violin band written during the period of its final flourishing, and secondly, as evidence that when English court musicians came into contact with the French style they did so initially through dancing masters and functional dance music. The four-part repertoire of brawls was written largely by leading composers for the violin band and is found in manuscript part-books as well as in ‘The Rare Theatricall’. By contrast, the repertoire of dancing masters is preserved, largely anonymously, in single-line sources – or tune-books – notably those published by John Playford: at first in a series of supplements to The Dancing Master (c.1655–65) and then in a section in Apollo’s Banquet (1669/70–93) devoted to ‘The Tunes of the usual French Dances at COURT and DANCING SCHOOLS’. Offering an extension to Holman’s work on brawls, this contribution will describe the single-line sources of ‘French Dances’, arguing that, while some of these dances originated from abroad, many could have been written in England. The size of the repertoire (over 300 pieces) and the likelihood that dancing masters in England were involved in creating it, supports Holman’s suggestion that dancing masters had considerable influence on musical taste and on the composers for the violin band during the Restoration (Four and Twenty Fiddlers, 314)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusical Exchanges Between Britain and the Continent, c.1500–1800
EditorsJohn Cunningham, Bryan White
Place of PublicationSuffolk, Reino Unido
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Pages32-48
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781783274925
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMusic in Britain, 1600-2000
Volume25

Keywords

  • French Dances
  • Tunes for Violin
  • Repertoire

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  • Cite this

    Woolley, A. L. (2020). The Tunes of the usual French Dances at COURT and DANCING SCHOOLS: the Repertoire and Musical Practice of Dancing Masters in Restoration England. In J. Cunningham, & B. White (Eds.), Musical Exchanges Between Britain and the Continent, c.1500–1800 (pp. 32-48). (Music in Britain, 1600-2000 ; Vol. 25). Suffolk, Reino Unido: Boydell and Brewer.