Friday, January 04, 2013

Today's research snippet: Carol Dancing

Today's research snippet is a piece from Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England by Compton Reeves
"Dancing at the amateur level was ordinarily round dancing or processional, and was of ancient lineage. Carols (corae in Latin) were the principal form of secular music in medieval England, and they are the musical core of the entertaining chain or carol-dance. The carol dance was usually performed by a circle of dancers, with hands clasped or arms linked, who would take a few steps to the left as their leader, normally standing in the middle of the circle, sang a stanza of a song. The dancers then marked time with treading steps as all sang the chorus (or burden). This basic dance could be varied in many ways, from dancing in line to mining the story of the carol, and the carols might be stories about heroism, romance, or religion. For the most part, carols seem to have been joyful. Carolling could be done outdoors, and the churchyard was a favourite venue, or in doors in a lordly Hall. Churchmen repeatedly repudiated carols and lascivious songs that were being enjoyed in churchyards when minds and hearts ought to have been inclined more spiritual matters. Carols prompted confessors to impose penances the sins of voice, sins of movement, and sins of touching."

Today's photo.  Chepstow Castle, the entrance to the Great Hall, once the domicile of William Marshal.  It must have seen lots of dancing in its day!

click to enlarge

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