Musique du Moyen-Age et de la Renaissance


A collection of dance music from France, performed on period instruments by the Musiciens de Provence. One term that I see coming back in many titles here is branle. I came across it earlier, so it deserves some attention I think.

The branle is a line or circle dance that was first mentioned around 1500. Hold hands or link arms with your neighbours in the row, then all of them take a number of steps to the left, and then the same number of smaller steps to the right. That way the whole row or circle moved a bit to the left.

A lot of variations were created on that simple basis, and each region had its own version. Many titles on this recording refer to those regional dances. In a more advanced development these were performed as series of dances, what would later be called suites. They tended to end in a gavotte, a dance that much later found its way in baroque music, but had its origin as a branle.

The name comes from the French word branler, which means to shake, wag, wobble. Looking for information about it outside of wikipedia quickly turned into a risqué enterprise, as a more informal meaning of the word is to masturbate.

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