Tag Archives: ethnomusicology

The schottische and the chotis, and other dances

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It’s years ago since a Spanish friend and dancing colleague told me that there was a connection between Schottische and a Spanish dance called chotis, and I’ve been meaning to look it up properly ever since. I’ve now come across this fabulous page:  Kicking It Up: ‘Asi se baila el chotis’ (this is how you dance the chotis) which traces several international links between the Schottische and its counterparts in other countries. The page is  part of a project called Modern Moves: Kinetic Transnationalism and Afro-Diasporic Rhythm Cultures, a “five-year =research project (June 2013 – May 2018), funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant, and located at the Department of English, King’s College London.”

I’m thrilled by this, but also slightly dismayed that yet again, when you want to know something that has really bugged you about dance and music, more often than not, it seems to be done by people outside conventional music or dance studies, as if those disciplines are in fact too disciplined to generate the right kind of questions and research methods. The site looks fantastic, and I’m looking forward to exploring more.

Here’s a nice sample of one of the clips – music: Feira de Mangaio by Sivuca

Yet another source for the Nutcracker party scene tune

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It’s become something of a hobby, finding sources for the tunes in Tchaikovsky’s score for The Nutcracker. I thought I’d had all the surprises there were to be had when I discovered that the source for the tune of  the children’s galop in Act I was not only the French song Bon Voyage, Cher Dumollet, but also the New England Steamboat Quickstep.

And now, if I’m not very much mistaken, here it is again, in a more modal form, accompanying a Basque dance.  Pure chance that I happened to look at this video, because someone I interviewed said that Basque dance could be very balletic, so I had a look on Youtube. And there in the middle of the first video I watched, is a little bit of Nutcracker history.

The video should start automatically at the relevant bit, at 3m16s,unless my embed-code editing doesn’t function on your device.

In fact, a quick search for ‘connections between Basque Dance and the Nutcracker’ found a comment on a recording of Nutcracker by Ladylavanda, saying that the children’s galop sounds like a traditional Basque dance called the Satan dantza.  She recommends searching for <Pastorala Xahakoa: Satanak>, and sure if enough, if you do, or if you search for Satan Dantza, you can find plenty of examples. And if you search for <Satan Dantza Cascanueces> (Nutcracker in Spanish) you’ll see a few MP3 downloads where Satan Dantza is the main title, and Nutcracker is in brackets. Here’s another even clearer example of the connection.

Answers on a postcard – from Brahms

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On Monday I interviewed an expert on Hungarian fiddle playing, so I just loved this article on the Henle Verlag website about Michael Struck’s re-decoding of a postcard from Brahms that had already been (wrongly) decoded once in a book over a 100 years ago. Superficially, this looks like nerdy Urtext stuff, until you read the detail and watch the video of what the re-interpretation of those tiny markings in the Brahms score mean in practice. 

Russian and Ukrainian folk song site

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 a-pesni is a huge and wonderful site  of Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Belarusian songs of every description – old folklore, war songs, variety, revolutionary songs, army songs, you name it. Songs that have the melodies as well as the words have a little quaver sign by the title, and there are many of those. Google translate is terrible at translating lyrics but it’ll get you round the site well enough if you don’t read Russian.

I don’t often get excited by websites, but this is a real find, the folkloric equivalent of the IMSLP, if you like, for Eastern Europe.  Great for those of us always on the look our for new repertoire, and who love folk music like this.