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2/2 time in early music

GUEST,leeneia 04 Jul 13 - 06:08 PM
John P 04 Jul 13 - 07:42 PM
Phil Cooper 04 Jul 13 - 11:26 PM
Stanron 05 Jul 13 - 07:17 AM
Jack Campin 05 Jul 13 - 07:33 AM
Stanron 05 Jul 13 - 07:46 AM
Stanron 05 Jul 13 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Jul 13 - 09:04 AM
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Subject: 2/2 time in early music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 06:08 PM

I'm getting two pieces of music ready for the early music band. They are called 'Bransle de Villages.' The first one is in cut time - it has a C with a line drawn through it.

I know this means it's in 2/2 time, but it looks exactly like 4/4 to me. For example, many measures have four quarter notes in them. Is it supposed to sound like 4/4, or is it supposed have a strong 1-2 effect to it, or what?


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: John P
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 07:42 PM

I always think of the bransles with a strong 1-2 feel. I've seen them written both with quarter notes in 2/2 time and with eighth notes in 4/4 time. I find the 4/4 easier to look at with my limited reading skills, but the 2/2 more clearly indicates where the primary beats are in the measure. If I'm remembering the dance steps correctly, there are two primary steps per measure.


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 04 Jul 13 - 11:26 PM

The quarter notes are eighth notes in 2/2 time. I just treat it like 4/4 and hope no one notices.


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: Stanron
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 07:17 AM

The notes in a bar of 2/2 are exactly the same as the notes in the same bar of 4/4. The difference is the rhythmical feel. Two long beats in 2/2 and four short ones in 4/4.


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 07:33 AM

In practical terms it determines what you set your metronome to. You count 1/4 in C or 4/4 and 1/2 in C| or 2/2.

In Scottish music you will sometimes use the same metronome setting for reels and strathspeys when they're mixed in the same dance set. The reels will be in 2/2 (C|) time and the strathspeys in 4/4 (C), so the 1/4 notes in the reels will have half the duration they do in the strathspeys. (There is a lot of notation that ignores this distinction).


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: Stanron
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 07:46 AM

Will it simplify things if I point out that the bottom note of a Time Signature tells you how the 'beats' are written.

When the bottom number is 4 the beats are written as quarter (1/4 get it?) notes or quavers.

When the bottom number is 2 the beats are written as half (1/2 get it?) or minims.

The top number tells you how many beats are in each bar.

It's the beats that differ not the way the notes are written. If you have a notation processor like Sibelius try pasting a bar of 2/2 into a score of 4/4. They will look the same. They wont sound the same unless you make sure the BPM for 2/2 is half that of 4/4.


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: Stanron
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 07:54 AM

Big OOOOPS

The above post should read


Will it simplify things if I point out that the bottom note of a Time Signature tells you how the 'beats' are written.

When the bottom number is 4 the beats are written as quarter (1/4 get it?) notes or crotchets

When the bottom number is 2 the beats are written as half (1/2 get it?) or minims.

The top number tells you how many beats are in each bar.

It's the beats that differ not the way the notes are written. If you have a notation processor like Sibelius try pasting a bar of 2/2 into a score of 4/4. They will look the same. They wont sound the same unless you make sure the BPM for 2/2 is half that of 4/4.

I'm getting so used to using the American terms I'm forgetting the English ones.


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Subject: RE: 2/2 time in early music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 09:04 AM

Thanks for the observations. I found this interesting stuff in Encyclopedia Britannica:

"branle, 12th-century French chain dance adopted (c. 1450–c. 1650) by European aristocrats, especially in France and in England, where the word branle was anglicized as "brawl." Named for its characteristic side-to-side movement (French branler, "to sway"), the branle was performed by a chain of dancers who alternated large sideways steps to the left (frequently four) with an equal number of smaller steps to the right.

Thus the chain, usually of couples intertwining arms or holding hands, progressed to the left in a circle or serpentine figure. Branles were danced with walking, running, gliding, or skipping steps depending on the speed of the music, which was composed in 4/4 time.

Aristocrats frequently performed pantomimic branles in which they scolded each other like washerwomen or courted (as in the branle de Poitou, the possible ancestor of the minuet). Certain branles, especially in France, were designated for specific age groups, such as the lively branle de Bourgogne for the youngest dancers.
============
I can see how a dance with a big step to the left followed by a small step to the right would need a strong one-two feel to keep people from getting confused. We'll try it that way.

We could have a lot of fun playing rhe piece over and over, telling ourselves,

Let's let them walk.
Let's make them run!
Let's have them glide!
Let them skip this time.


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