Italian Medieval Instrumental Dances - vol. I
Approximately fifty instrumental pieces from the medieval period have come down to us through various sources. These pieces are definable as dances because of their form. They come from various European regions, and the codices which contain them are datable to between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries, even if the pieces themselves are often relics of an earlier period. Despite their limited dimensions, they present a notable multiplicity of genres, including the ductia of English origins, the French and Italian estampite, and the saltarelli. Alongside pieces which evidently arose from dances, we find others which, though maintaining certain characteristics of the genre, present traits of having evolved into dances not actually intended for dancing but rather for listening, since their structure is too difficult to be danced to. This slender legacy of compositions certainly does not exhaust the repertoire of dance music. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that it was far vaster, since dancing has always represented a particularly important moment for socialization, yesterday even more so than today, and above all in popular environments. Another important part of medieval dance music was not only instrumental but vocal as well. Moreover, a significant portion of this music was tied to the liturgy and is often numbered among sacred works since the dance origins of these songs is purely conjectural. The fifty or so instrumental dances in our possession were instead intended for instruments, transcribed and secular (if not in origin, then at least as they were destined to be used), and come from aristocratic circles. The pieces heard on this CD represent a part of those whose Italian provenance is ascertained or presumed. This recording is the first stage in a project which hopes to present them all.