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Contredanse Francaise 4 from Nouveau Recueil Op. 8

Matteo Carcassi

In the nineteenth century a growing market emerged for sheet music for home use. Likewise for the guitar. Thus most guitar celebrity composed a few works that were playable for amateurs.

Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853) was no exception, composing a few works for the amateur, amongst others Op. 8 Etrennes aux Amateurs ou Nouveau Recueil de Six Contredanses Francaises, Six Valses et Trois Airs Varié, a title that translates as New Year’s gift for the amateurs, or new collection of six French peasant dances, six Waltzes and three airs with variations.

I will stick to the Contredanses, i.e. the peasant dances. The nice thing in the scores is that they contain instructions for actual dancing. Apparently Carcassi intended the pieces to be used as real dance music. The instructions explain the dance figures to be used, such as Demie Queue du Chat, Chaine anglaise entière, Demie chaine anglaise, Demie Queue du Chat and Tour de Mains, all French dance expressions, or indicate what kind of dance is required, for instance a Poule or Pantalon.

The structure of the Contredanse seems to be based on the old dance forms like a Rondo. The original score, however, lacked clear indications for repeats. So I gave it a go myself.

This fourth Contredanse is a slow melody in 6/8 measure. The instructions in French for the execution of this dance are:

En avant deux, chassez, déchassez.
Traversez, balancez à vos Dames, un tour de mains.