Michael Praetorius: Dances from Terpsichore (Ballet – Courante – Spagnoletta – Volte – Pavane – Bourée) – Hanneke van Proosdij, Carla Moore, Gabrielle Wunsch, Lisa Grodin and Maxine Nemerovski, Maria Caswell, Peter Maund, Elisabeth Reed, Tanya Tomkins, Farley Pearce, David Tayler, Voices&Music

A suite from the early baroque dance collection Terpsichore (1612) by Michael Praetorius. Live, 4K UHD video from the San Francisco Early Music ensemble Voices of Music concert, December 17, 2016. Voices of Music FAQ

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Q. What is Early Music performance, or historical performance?

A. We play on instruments from the time of the composers, and we use the original music and playing techniques: it’s a special sound.

Q. Why are there no conductors?

A. Conductors weren’t invented until the 19th century; since we seek to recreate a historical performance, the music is led from the keyboard or violin, or the music is played as chamber music~or both 🙂

Q. What are period instruments or original instruments; how are they different from modern instruments?

A. As instruments became modernized in the 19th century, builders and players tended to focus on the volume of sound and the stability of tuning. Modern steel strings replaced the older materials, and instruments were often machine made. Historical instruments, built individually by hand and with overall lighter construction, have extremely complex overtones—which we find delightful. Modern instruments are of course perfectly suited to more modern music.

Q. Why is the pitch lower, or higher?

A. Early Music performance uses many different pitches, and these pitches create different tone colors on the instruments.

See https://goo.gl/pVBNAC For this concert, we selected six dances from the collection and grouped them together to form a suite:

Ballet, 0:00

Courante, 1:46

Spagnoletta, 3:09

Volte, 5:12

Pavane 6:08


Michael Praetorius was one of the most important composers and theorists of the late renaissance and early-17th century. His astonishing encyclopedia of music gives us an intriguing glimpse into the instruments and performance practices of the time, and his writing covers all aspects of music. Praetorius wrote popular hymn settings, as well as large-scale compositions that borrowed elements of the polychoral Italian tradition. Praetorius was a tune collector, just like the musicologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who collected songs and dances from different countries; he planned eight volumes of these secular works, but he only finished one: his book of French instrumental dances Terpsichore, named after the muse of dance (1612). Orchestration: in the 1960s and 1970s, these works were heavily orchestrated—and conducted—in a neo-renaissance style. Although not grounded in historical performance, these orchestrations did, however, introduce a wider audience to the different kinds of instruments in the late renaissance and early baroque and helped popularize the music before Bach. In our performance, we have used strings as the foundation, as this was one of the most popular ways to perform dance music, and added winds, continuo and percussion.

Voices of Music Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler Directors Musicians (left to right)

Hanneke van Proosdij, recorder, organ & harpsichord

Carla Moore, Gabrielle Wunsch, Lisa Grodin and Maxine Nemerovski, baroque violins

Maria Caswell, baroque viola

Peter Maund, percussion

Elisabeth Reed, Tanya Tomkins, baroque cellos

Farley Pearce, violone

David Tayler, archlute & percussion

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