Simply... Philharmonic!1: Alors on danse. Medieval dances and dance music Filharmonia Narodowa

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Simply... Philharmonic!1: Alors on danse. Medieval dances and dance music
Consort FOWR, photo: Michał Gondko

Programme includes: Vincenzo da Rimini, Gautier de Coincy, Francesco Landini, Magister Piero, Gherardello da Firenze, Johannes Ciconia, Giovanni da Cascia


Mediaeval music theory did not leave us extensive descriptions of the secular music cultivated in those times. The authors of treatises focussed mainly on issues relating to Gregorian chant or polyphony. Hence the exceptional profile of Johannes de Grocheo – a Paris-based theorist who lived around the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In his treatise De musica, he distinguished three kinds of musical practice: musica civilis, musica canonica and musica ecclesistica. In each group, he enumerated characteristic genres, striking among which are stantipes and ductia, belonging to musica civilis. As Johannes de Grocheo wrote, these were a ‘technically complicated song sung by youngsters standing up’ (stantipes) and a ‘quick dance song’ (ductia). To this day, we do not know what the theorist had in mind when writing about the performance of songs ‘standing up’, but we may suspect that the description of stantipes (nowadays also called estampie or estampida) indicates the dance character of the work. It is also possible that the stantipes was slower than the ductia, performed in procession, in pairs. It is certain, meanwhile, that Johannes de Grocheo sought to give a precise description in his treatise of the music of Paris and the social context in which it functioned.


Simply… Philharmonic! Project 1:

Already in ancient Greece, Aristotle distinguished the arts that imitated nature, including among them (in part) music. The philosopher discerned the source of delight from contact with music in its concordance with nature, emphasising the importance of the empirical cognition of the art of music. A practical view was espoused by the thirteenth-century theorist Johannes de Grocheo, who alone described the full sound of Paris during his times. Presenting the musical genres currently in use, he left us one of the few profiles of the secular music cultivated during that period. Almost 200 years later, another theorist, Johannes Tinctoris, also focussed his attention on compositions of his own times. His tastes were reflected in the Mellon Chansonnier, prepared for a Neapolitan princess. The sounds of the natural world were also embraced by the Venetian Baroque master Antonio Vivaldi. In his collection Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, Op. 8, the composer introduced suggestive titles for his concertos that directly point to sound inspirations from the world around him. Besides his most famous Four Seasons, he also illustrated, for example, the sounds that accompanied hunting.

Daniel Laskowski