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2023 Study Days

This year we have two Study Days - both on Thursday September 7th. So you have a choice between a day of singing or a day of dancing.

  • Each day runs from 10am through to 5pm (arrive a little earlier for a prompt start if possible)

  • Cost is £40, which includes refreshments and a lunchtime meal.

  • Read on for more information on each...

Vocal Polyphony

"Tapissier, Carmen and Césaris not so long ago sang so well that they astonished all Paris.  But the day came when they did not discant such finely wrought melody - as I am told by those that heard them - as did Dufay and Binchois. For these two have ways of harmonising in both loud and soft music, in the use of accidentals, of rests, and in variations. They have taken up the English style, and follow Dunstable. And so a marvellous pleasingness makes their music joyful and remarkable."

Martin le Franc, 1430s. 

As this suggests, the fifteenth century was one of amazing innovation and accomplishment in vocal music. This was a decisive period for song as an artistic form: songs began to distinguish themselves from masses and motets and to acquire their own validity.  Vocal polyphony was marked by sonorous harmonies, shapely melodies and flexible rhythms. Our Vocal Polyphony Study Day offers the chance to get to grips with some of this splendid repertoire. It's led by MMitD's regular choirmaster Richard de Winter.

The Study Day is suitable for singers with some experience; the ability to read music will be a great help but if necessary let us know in advance if you prefer another learning method. It takes place at St Oswald's Church in Castle Bolton, with refreshments supplied by the Castle Tea Room: teas, coffee and biscuits at regular intervals and a lunchtime meal.

Principles of 15th century dance from the Italian masters
With Cait Webb and Gaita

The earliest surviving treatises on dance were written in the mid- to late-15th century by three Italian dance masters: Domenico of Piacenza, Antonio Cornazano, and Guglielmo Ebreo (also known as Giovanni Ambrosio) of Pesaro. As well as containing detailed choreographies set to specific music, the treatises contain extensive advice about the key principles a dancer should absorb to perform these dances well. Ranging from the practical – how to adjust your steps to the size of room you are dancing in – to the emotional – dancing with a joyous spirit – it is said (by Cornazano) that “having observed the aforesaid elements, there is no unattractive woman who could not appear more beautiful, nor small man who could not appear larger, and each of them would be skillful and graceful”.

In this study day, we will focus on a few representative dances from the treatises, to illustrate and apply each of the principles in turn. The aim will be to improve understanding of the core concepts of this repertoire, including the musical elements relevant to integrating musicians and dancers in joint performance. 

Participants should have some experience in dance. Prior knowledge of 15th century dance would be helpful but is not required. Flat shoes should be worn, ideally medieval in style, but bring what will be comfortable for you for a full day. The dances are not highly energetic but approaching them in the correct style may present some physical challenge. Musicians are encouraged to dance as an exercise to understand the music, but are also welcome if they just want to observe. There will be live music played (and discussed) but note we cannot attempt simultaneous instrumental tuition.

Our Dance Study Day takes place in Reeth Memorial Hall (DL11 6QT). Refreshments will be supplied: tea, coffee and biscuits at regular intervals and a lunchtime meal. 

We are grateful for the support of The Historical Dance Society and the Early Dance Circle for our Dance Study Day.

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