Simple and catchy, the melody of this dance movement keeps the players and listeners engaged while remaining accessible to the everyday ARS ensemble. This Gigue would be just as suitable in a chapter meeting setting as at the Renaissance Faire (though the low F#’s in the Bass are not available on a Renaissance recorder).
Thomas Van Dahm’s formal music education is scattered, spanning the gamut from preteen piano studies to choirs, viola and tuba. However, he notes that his Informal Music Education never stops. A gift of a recorder in 1980 sparked his interest in the instrument and led him to join the local ARS chapter in Wisconsin. There he soon organized a recorder ensemble, the Recorders of Merriewoode, which is still active today. Mr. Van Dahm is a fan of Romantic music and enjoys adapting it to recorders. The ARS published his Two Brahms Lieder as Members’ Library Edition #16 in 1997; his article “Romantic Music for the Recorder: Why Not?” appeared in the September 2001 American Recorder; and Arcadian Press published two sets of his arrangements of Brahms’ choral music. The Gigue presented here (not Romantic in style at all) is an original composition.
Composer’s note: The compositional structure of dance music such as this heavily favors the Soprano and Bass lines. I tried to add interest to the inner parts by giving them plenty of independent action, often as connecting material between phrases.
—Thomas Van Dahm
Performance notes: The Bass part in dance music is critical to maintaining forward motion and lightness; players should anticipate the beat and not articulate too heavily, to avoid loss of momentum.
This Gigue is in the characteristically lively 6/8 meter, but has more sections than a traditional binary gigue, including a fun petite reprise at the end. Phrasing is straightforward, with sections of usually 8 measures broken up into smaller statements and answers, of 2 and 4 measures. Within the measure, beat 1 is stronger than beat 2, and within a phrase, measures 1 and 3 are stronger than measures 2 and 4.
The written slurs are not necessarily real slurs, though they could be played as such. They generally group the first two notes of a triplet, maintaining the feel. If not played as real slurs, they should be played legato with a tu-du or tu-ru articulation. Deviations from the slur pattern, such as in measures 3 and 13 in the Soprano and 34 and 36 in the Alto and Bass, add melodic interest and variety.
Because the piece is in the key of E minor and modulates to the related key of B minor, the low F# is frequently an important note in the Bass line.