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Musicians of Shakespeare's Globe - "Bassadansa (The Feast at Calais)" (2015 VisionIntoArt)

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c Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, arr Claire van Kampen; from Wolf Hall: Tudor Music (Soundtrack from the Original Miniseries), VisionIntoArt – VIA005

It was announced the other day that Wolf Hall, the masterful TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's phenomenal trilogy of novels about Henry VIII's minister Thomas Cromwell (and Anne Boleyn and all the intrigue of Henry's courting and un-courting of her) will finally begin shooting its concluding season soon, and with the original cast and creative team largely or entirely intact at that. The first six episodes, released all the way back in 2015, are top notch television on all counts - writing, acting, casting, cinematography, historical authenticity (though this is of course a dramatization of events, and a revisionist one at that...), and indeed a standout soundtrack.

Much acclaim has been given to brilliant composer Debbie Wiseman, who produced the original, non-period score, in particular "Entirely Beloved" (Cromwell's theme and the main theme of the show):

But the show also makes great use of music from the show's 16th Century Renaissance time period, as arranged by composer and sometime Early-Modern Music expert of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Claire van Kampen, and performed by the musicians thereof.

The "Bassadansa" that the show features rather prominently in the courtly dance scene below was apparently composed by Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, a 15th Century Jewish-Italian dance master and author of a celebrated treatise on the art of dancing, and appears elsewhere that I can find as "Bassadanza Cupido" or just "Cupido":

Basse danse (or bassa danza in Italian) is the type of dance, it seems - the name literally means "low-dance", apparently because it didn't have the jumping around characteristic to some of its peers. Looking at Guglielmo's Trattato dell'arte del ballo, on page 47 of the linked edition, it appears "Cupido" is the name of the particular dance described, which as written in fact differs substantively from what's seen in Wolf Hall (for me at least, the show's dance was most memorable for the picking-up and clapping, neither of which are here...). Per Google Translate (I see an issue or two, but you get the gist of it), the dance goes as such:

"First two silly steps and two double steps starting with the left foot and then the men half turn towards the right foot, and the women do not turn at all; and then do two shots, one on the left foot and the other on the right foot; and then make a curtsy on the left foot, and then go around one to the other; take the right hand and walk round with two slow steps and one double step, starting with the left foot; and then do a recovery on the upright foot; and then the men walk in the opposite direction to the women with two double steps, starting with the left foot; and at that time the women do four restraints, and then they all hold each other half times on the standing foot; and then do two takes. one on the left foot and the other on the right foot; and then make a curtsy on the left foot, and then come towards each other with two foolish steps; starting with the left foot; and then the man gives a half turn towards the right foot, and joins hands, and makes a recovery towards the left foot; and then make a round vault with two simple steps, starting with the right foot; and then do a recovery on the right foot, and then do a curtsy on the left foot. It's over: let's do it again, and the man will send the woman forward, and then accompany her to her place."

Here's a performance from an historical dance group that's closer to the text, and with a different instrumentation music-wise:

And here's one more version that splits the difference, with a more...conservative(?) dance routine but an arrangement that sounds more like the show's:

At any rate, I like the music quite a bit. If you are interested in more in this vein, I would definitely recommend watching Wolf Hall, and/or checking out Wolf Hall: Tudor Music (and of course the Debbie Wiseman OST). You can also see this post for a great version of English Renaissance composer William Byrd's "The Earle of Oxford's March" (and some more Wolf Hall at the end).

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