Friday, September 16th, 2016...4:38 pm

Olé!

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Sheet music 618 caption detail

Dance notation is one of those tricky subjects which has been discussed for centuries: no matter how you write it down, you’re sure to miss something important. I’ve discussed some examples here in in the blog, particularly regarding Feuillet notation (which was a particular interest of Professor Ward’s). But sometimes folks just take things into their own hands.

Sheet music 618 cover

Sheet music 618 cover


Between my regular Warding activities, I’ve continued to catalog scores from our spectacular Historical sheet music collections, and today I was privileged to handle a small stack of scores from the Poisé system of dance instruction: I came for the gorgeous Art Deco “P” (see cover illustration) and stayed for the dance notation. Mexicano, of all of the scores, includes little stick figures which illustrate the dance steps described in text.

Sheet music 618 caption

Sheet music 618 caption

Surely this method of dance notation must have been used before, but I cannot remember such a charming example. The figures are even wearing little gloves, and booties to clarify the foot positions. Daisy Murrmann Stryker has written several books on the Poisé system of dance instruction, but this is the first music I’ve ever seen. Published in 1934, I only wish that someone from Disney had noticed these little guys, can’t you just see them animated in a fandango? Olé!

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

Sheet music 618 last page

Sheet music 618 last page

2 Comments

  • This is great. Really reminds me of the early Disney Cartoons really, with all those little gloves (or more to the point..sketches on the margins of medieval books).

  • Oh!! I love the idea of these little guys dancing across one of the spectacular medieval manuscripts in our current exhibit, Beyond Words:
    http://beyondwords2016.org/
    pointing at important bits with little glove-like manicules. Thanks for that!