Dances for Orchestra

Dances for Orchestra (1981)

Ia. Basse Dance Ib. Brisk and very rhythmical
IIa. Pavane I b. Sarabande
IIIa.Galliard II b. Very quick – with drive

Dan Locklair (b. 1949)

Program Note

Dances for Orchestra was composed in 1981 on a commission from IBM for the Binghamton Youth Symphony Orchestra. The piece consists of three movements, each of which is divided into two parts. Movements Ia, IIa, and IIIa are based on dances by the 16th century French composer, Claude Gervaise, to which I have added original counterpoint to be played by an antiphonal brass quartet of two trumpets and two trombones. Movements Ib, IIb, and IIIb are not variations, but commentaries in the spirit of each dance.

Dances for Orchestra employs several older types of dances. The “basse dance” is of unknown origin, having been cultivated generally in the courts of western Europe during the 15th century. The name probably refers to the gliding or walking movements of the feet, as opposed to dances with livelier steps. The name “pavane” derives from “pava,” a dialect form of Padua (Italy). The “pavane” is a slow, processional type of dance, which employs a continuous repetition of basic step patterns. This dance became popular early in the 15th century and quickly spread throughout Europe. The “sarabande” is a slow dignified dance in triple time whose primary rhythmic characteristic is an emphasis on the second beat of each bar. The “galliard” is a happy, rollicking 16th century dance of Italian origin. The style of the “galliard” is similar to the Italian “saltarello” (literally “jumping dance”) except that the “galliard” is danced more vigorously.

Dan Locklair