Sunday 7 May 2006

Step in time with the music

The Early Music ensemble Harp Consort has recently been touring Australia, organised by Musica Viva. Their repertoire is drawn from the Spanish Renaissance in the seventeenth century, when Spain was beginning to feel the influence of the new world, particularly Peru and Mexico.
In a question and answer session following their Melbourne performance, the guitarist/dancer reflected on the changes in ‘recent’ early music performances. The Harp Consort performances are remarkable partly for the graceful and energetic steps performed by Steven Player in accompaniment to the music. Player said that incorporation of the music had led to a greater emphasis on rhythm rather than beat. The music keeps pace with the body of the dancer, and vice versa. So the dance known as the galliard, for instance, requires the dancer to leap into the air, timing his descent to match the beat of the music. This makes for a more ‘visceral’ music. It would be interesting to think how this might be applied to visual art.

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