French Renaissance Dance:

What Makes It Great?


presented by

The Southern California Early Music Society


The Wessex Consort

The Guild of St. George (GSG) and El Dorado Danza (EDD)

Dr. Emma Lewis Thomas



Pavane pur la Mariage de Henri le Grand in 1600 (GSG and EDD)                              arr. Philador

S. dulcian, crumhorn consort, B. viol


Branle Double “La Bounette” (GSG)                                                                                     Anonymous

musette, tambourin drum

Branle Simple (GSG)                                                                                                Caroubel/Praetorius

high recorder consort (Sn., Sn., S., T.)


l In Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Terpsichore by Michael Praetorius l


Bransle des Chevaux  (“Horse”) (EDD)                                                                Caroubel/Praetorius

vielle ą roue (hurdy gurdy) and cornemuse (bagpipe)


Jouyssance vous donneray: song and bassedance (EDD)                         Marot/Sermisy, Arbeau

Song: S. voice, violin, B. recorder, great-B. recorder, B. viol

Jouyssance vous donneray (Pleasure will I give you)

from Chansons Nouvelles, 1527, published by Pierre Attaingnant

music by Claudin de Sermisy (1490-1562); lyrics by Clément Marot (1495-1544)

Jouissance vous donnerai

Mon ami, et vous mŹnerai

La oĚ prétend votre espérance.

Vivante ne vous laisserai;

Encore quand morte serai,

L'esprit en aura souvenance.


Si pour moi avez du souci

Pour vous n'en ai pas moins aussi,

Amour le vous doit faire entendre.

Mais s'il vous grŹve d'źtre ainsi,

Apaisez votre coeur transi;

Tout vient ą point, qui peut attendre

Pleasure will I give you

my beloved, and I will lead you

where your hope aspires.

While I live, I will never leave you,

and even in death,

my spirit will always remember


If you are worried about me

I am no less so for you

Love should make you understand that.

But if it grieves you to be like this,

Appease your troubled heart;

Everything comes to him who can wait.


Bassedance (arr. Axworthy): S. shawm, A. shawm, B. dulcian, S. crumhorn, T. crumhorn, cornetto

Tourdion (EDD)                                                                                                                    pub.Attaignant

virginal, B. recorder


Branle Montarde (GSG)                                                                                 pub.Attaignant, Paris 1550

loud band and soft band, garklein recorder


Gavottes (EDD)                                                                                                Caroubel (arr. Praetorius)

low recorder consort (“g”-A., T.,  “g”-B., great-B.)


Torche Bransle (GSG and EDD and audience)                                                                          Arbeau

loud band and soft band








Bouffons (EDD)                                                                                                                                 Arbeau

loud band

Sword flouryshes: Myles Cupp (swordsman)

fife, drum (improvisation after Arbeau’s descriptions)


Pavane: Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie (Beauty, you who hold my life) (GSG)                                  Arbeau

song voices S., A., T., B. cornemuse

cornetto, violin, T. cornemuse, B. cornemuse, B. viol


Belle, qui tiens ma vie captive dans tes yeux,

Qui m'a l'Čme ravie d'un souriz gracieux,

Viens tôt me secourir, ou me faudra mourir.


Pourquoi fuis-tu, mignarde, si je suis prŹs de toy?

Quand tes yeux je regarde, je me perds dedans moy,

Car tes perfections changent mes actions.

Beautiful one who holds my life captive in your eyes,

Who has ravished my soul with a gracious smile.

Come to my aid, or I must die.


Why do you flee, dainty one,If I am near you?

When I behold your eyes,I am lost inside myself

Because your perfection so affects my behaviour.



Galliards (EDD)                                                                                                                        arr. Philador

recorder consort (S., “g”-A., T., “g”-B., great-B.)


Bransle of Champagne: Casandra, Pinagay, Charlotte (GSG)                                               Arbeau

loud band, Sn. recorder


La Bouree (EDD)                                                                                                       Caroubel/Praetorius

vielle ą roue (hurdy gurdy) and cornemuse (bagpipe)

Bouree d'Avignone (aka Playford’s “Parsons Farewell”, Schmelzer’s“Polish Bagpipes”)                                                                                                                                   arr. Phildor

cornetto, S. dulcian, violin, T. crumhorn, B. dulcian, B.viol,


Composers and Sources

Thoinot Arbeau (1519-1595): used this anagram for his real name, Jehan Tabourot (perhaps because he was a cleric). His Orchesographie (1589) describes social ballroom behavior and the interaction of musicians and dancers; it has many dance tabulations, a significant innovation in dance notation.

Pierre-Francisque Caroubel (1556 –1615) a French violinist and composer. He lived in Paris from 1576 and collaborated with Michael Praetorius at the court of the Duke of Brunswick at Wolfenbüttel.

Michael Praetorius 1571-1621): Terpsichore (1612; our concert is in celebration of the 400th anniversary of its publication) a collection of mostly French dances, many originating from Caroubel, a testament to the high regard of French dance at that time.  Syntagma Musicum, v.2 De Organographia (1618)  described all the musical instruments of the period. Contemporaneous with Terpsichore is the anonymous French dance manual  Instruction pour dancer (pre-1612) which intabulates dances named in Terpsichore (according to Angene Feves). Terpsichore means "delight in dancing" and was the Greek Muse of dance.

Pierre Attaignant  (c.1494 - 1551/2): publisher in Paris, first to make extensive use of single-impression movable type for music-printing, thus making it possible to print faster and cheaper.

Andre Danican Philador (1647-1730); librarian to Louix XIV, his F.494 contains transcriptions and arrangements of music originally from1540 to 1583. Many tunes are also found in Praetorius’ Terpsichore, Attaingnant and Phalese. Philador added a second soprano part for a total of six parts.

Instrumental Consorts

Consorts are groups of the same (or like) instruments in different sizes, often constructed as such by one maker to give a balanced volume and uniform timbre and tuning. Most of the instruments in today’s concert came in three or more sizes. Examples:  double reed consorts: soft: crumhorns (S,A,T,B), and S. dulcian; loud band: Sn. rauschpfife, A. shawm, T. shawm, B. dulcian;  recorder consort: we play a matched set by A. Breukink;  “broken” consort: a mixture of variously dissimilar instruments, but with balanced volume, examples: violin, cornetto, recorders/crumhorn/cornemuse, B. viol, virginal.

Instrumentarium of the Wessex Consort

(instrument sizes used in today’s concert are indicated by Sn. (sopranino), S., A., T., B. etc)

Recorder (Sn., S., A., T., B., great-B): a fipple flute, the most popular instrument of the Renaissance, in 8 principal sizes with intermediates in the keys of D and G  (eg. our alto and bass in G “g”)

Cornetto: a cupped mouthpiece with open fingerholes, with an expressive regal sound

Viol (viola da gamba) (B.) with 6 strings and frets and unique bowing, it has a vocal quality highly regarded through the Baroque, after which it was supplanted by the cello.

Violin: the great makers of the 16th C optimized its construction (Stradavarius, Amati, etc).

Vielle ą roue (hurdy gurdy): developed from the Medieval organistrum that was used to accompany church singing. Four drones and two chanter strings played by a keyboard, and a percussive bridge activated with impulses of the turning hand.  As a folk instrument, it gained popularity especially in France, where in the Baroque it was refined along with the musette as court instruments that were musical representations of pastoral life. It continues today as the most important French folk instrument.

Rauschpfeife (loud pipe) (S.): a capped double reed, the loudest of all instruments (although a relatively soft version is used here, to blend with other loud instruments).

Shawm (S., A., T.): 12th – 17th C; a double reed, predecessor of the oboe.

Dulcian (curtal)(S., T., B.): a double reed,  mid-16th to late 17thC, predecessor of the bassoon.

Crumhorn (krumhorn, tournebout, "bent horn.") (S., A., T., B.) a capped double reed bent in the shape of a “J”, popular  from 15th – 17thC, it lasted longest in France where is remained part of the grand écurie of Louis XIV  (mid 17thC). It may have evolved from a bagpipe chanter.

Cornamuse (T., B.): capped and partly stopped double reed (not to be confused with the

cornemuse, a French bagpipe) is similar to the crumhorn, but has a closed bell, giving it a quieter, softer sound. All modern reproductions are based on paintings and descriptions from the time.

Musette: a French court bagpipe, invented for the court bals of Henri III before 1587, therefore a uniquely French instrument. This refined, petite bagpipe was used in ballet scenes of pastoral life (of which bagpipes were musical representations). It uses a newly invented technologically advanced “shuttle” drone mechanism  (based on the reciprocating bore of the racket) that is regulatable to select the chord key, and it is inflated with a bellows (rather than by mouth). It became the most important instrument of the French Baroque court. The one active maker, P. Beekhuisen, uses the one existing historic instrument and period engravings as models.

Cornemuse (bagpipe) (from Bourbonnaise, center of France) The French love the bagpipes and other double reeds (see Crumhorn), and have more different bagpipe models than any other country. This bagpipe continues today as an important folk instrument of France (along with vielle ą roue).

Virginal: a small, square harpsichord (faux marble painting and voicing by Curtis Berak).

Fife: predecessor of the piccolo flute; a high pitched transverse flute, used for military purposes.

Percussion: rope snare drum (A., T.), wood xylophone (possibly of African origin, in Europe by 1511), tamborine (round, head covered, jangles), tambourin (a uniquely French instrument; box, tuned strings, beater), various bells and cymbals.


Ensemble Biographies

Wessex Consort, Bruce Teter  and John Robinson, Co-Directors; Mark Walter, Marisa Rubino, Julie Edwards-Mantanga, Thomas Axworthy, Phil Charlton, Paul Christensen, Marischka Hopcroft, Ph.D., Curtis Berak.  The Wessex Consort performs music of the Renaissance and early Baroque periods on a variety of early wind instruments, complemented by strings, voices, percussion and keyboard.  Since its formation in 2007, they have performed Polish music and dance with Mme. Ujda, and serve as the court band for the Guild of St. George.


The Guild of Saint George, John Smith (Guild Master), Larry Hansen (Dance Director); John Higley, Alyxx Ianetta, Rebecca Roberts, Robin Smith, Renee Turner, Myles Cupp.  The Guild of Saint George is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to teaching the history of Elizabethan England through interactive theater.  The guild’s dance program is a part of a larger effort to accurately replicate all aspects of the Elizabethan world, from costume to language to dinnerware.  Over the past twelve years, the guild has demonstrated the lifestyle of the Elizabethan aristocracy at the Getty Center, the Huntington Library, and various schools and civic events throughout Southern California.


El Dorado Danza, Irene Ujda, Director; Cynthia Harper, Gerard J. Reyes, Lavendar Lynne McGrath, David G.A. Weidner, Jennifer Christie, Alejandro Herrera, John Simons, and guest Michael Hudson-Medina.  El Dorado Danza is a Continental Early Dance project of Yesteryears Dancers (YYD), augmenting prior collaborations with Wessex Consort (as Vistula Danza) on Polish Renaissance dance. YYD has also worked with Tom Axworthy including his LA Recorder Orchestra, with John Warren's New World Baroque Orchestra, and perform dances from rococo to ragtime.


Emma Lewis Thomas, Ph.D. has taught dance history at UCLA since 1971. Collaborating with musicians, she focuses on praxis in western European dance since 1400, translating verbal and notation descriptions into movement. As a  professional dancer in Berlin she was sparked by medieval and renaissance tunes woven into Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana,. She formed “Balliamo,” a Renaissance music and dance ensemble that performed in Southern California and toured Europe twice. She lectures worldwide on authenticity in re-creating dance and music from historic sources.


Thanks and Acknowledgements

Southern California Early Music Society, SCEMS (

Holy Nativity Episcopal Church and Father Peter Rood (

Special thanks to Thomas Axworthy  for his contributions and instruments (Southern California Entertainment and Music Concepts) (

Sony Pictures Entertainment (Irene Ujda). Song translations: Jouyssance: Serpent Publications; Belle Qui: David S. Barr

Concert programming and notes by Bruce Teter (with contributions from everyone)


Upcoming Events

Elizabethan Feast: an authentic recreation of an evening’s entertainments from Elizabethan England.

The Guild of St. George will sing madrigals and demonstrate 16th century French and Italian court dances, accompanied by the Wessex Consort. A meal of period dishes will be served and eaten in the Renaissance manner accompanied by music by Elements String Ensemble. Costumes welcomed! Friday, August 17, 2012, in a beautiful hall in Pasadena. Tickets are $65 per person. For tickets or information, email

Bastille Day L.A. Yesteryears Dancers (Irene Ujda) and Plaisirs Champetrź (Bruce Teter, Curtis Berak) will perform and teach historic and contemporary French dances with audience participation on Sunday July 15, 2012.