Dance et Chanson

The programme ?Dance et Chanson? has been compiled out of a similar curiosity for the unknown: to perform the repertoire of the 15th century in such a way, that the given musical repertoire is not seen as a goal in itself, but as a beginning for improvisation and further research. The 15th century French basse dance is a genre that is still open to research, within the field of dance as well as in music. It therefore seemed a like good place to start in an attempt to satisfy our musical curiosity. Much speculation has been made about the origins of the basse dance tenors in the manuscripts ?Brussels, Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique, Ms 9085? (c.1470) and ?L?art et instruction de bien dancer? (Paris, Michel Toulouze, c.1496). However, a few of these tenors, or fragments of them, show such striking resemblance to the tenors of some chansons, that research on their origin becomes more than just mere speculation. The tenors Maitresse and Triste Plaisir , for example, only show similarity by a few notes to their associated Chanson L?ami de Dame and Triste Plaisir. The tenor Portugaler shows more resemblance to Dufay?s chanson Or me veult de bien esperance mentir (which shares the same tenor as Dufay?s Portugaler) in that the first 8 notes are similar. Unlike most basse dances that show resemblance with the tenor-lines of their associated chansons, the basse dance Filles a marrier shows almost complete similarity to the Cantus of its chanson. It is not just the origin of the basse dances that calls for speculation, but also their performance-practice. Few examples of composed diminutions over basse dance tenors have survived from the second decade of the 15th century (presuming that our ?tenors? indeed are meant to serve as tenors and not as a completed composition). The style in which we perform the basse dances has therefore been determined by several factors such as basic knowledge of the basse dance choreography, some surviving examples of diminutions written over basse dance tenors (i.e. the famous La Spagna has been used in innumerable sources) as well as the style of diminutions used in several 15th century sources of intabulations (such as Conrad Paumann?s ?Fundamentum Organisandi? and the ?Buxheim Organbook?). Apart from Filles a marrier, the Chansons in this programme are by Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois, who are two of the greatest composers of the 15th century. The musical forms of the chansons follow the traditional poetical forms of the so called ?formes fixes? and their chansons show an extreme variation of texture, mostly due to complex rhythms and motives. The chansons and the basse dances, combined with numerous intabulations made after several 15th century chansons, form a concert programme linking some of the most important genres of the 15th century.