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Bayle, Christine. "The Marriage of Music and Dance - or was it a Divorce?"

Bayle, Christine. "The Marriage of Music and Dance - or was it a Divorce?" In Perception and Reception of Early Dance [Proceedings of the Early Dance Circle Conference held on 18-20 May 2018], edited by Barbara Segal and Sharon Butler, 69-83. Cambridge: Early Dance Circle, 2020.


Guillaume Dumanoir (1615-1697), celebrated violinist, composer and dancing master, to whom in 1657 Louis XIV gave the official title of “Roi des Violons,” (calling him) “The King of the Violins, dancing masters and instrumentalists both high and low,” wrote and published what was seen as a libellous tract with the following title: “Le mariage de la musique et de la dance: contenant la réponce au livre des treize prétendus académistes, touchant ces deux arts” (containing the response to the book by thirteen so-called academicians, regarding both these arts). He goes on to complain of the injustices done to the musicians of the ‘Big Band of the King’s violins” since the creation in 1661 of the Academy of Dance, followed in 1669 by l’Académie de Musique both of which disqualified them from using the emerging modern style.

How is it possible that this highly honoured musician – a member of the Confrérie (Brotherhood) of St Julien of the menestrels, violinist “ordinaire de la chambre du roi,” member of the “Grande Bande of the 24 violins du roi,” member of “la Petite Écurie du roi,” in 1665 he became Director of “la Grande Bande,” in 1668 the director of the “Corporation des ménestriers de France” – could have been excluded and even thrown out of the Academies?

We will try to understand how the new, « modern » masters, now calling themselves Dancing Masters, managed to replace the musicians who had long played for all of the Court balls and dances.

This puzzling situation, as described in the text, gives us not only a virulent defense of the art of « La Danse », but also a vivid picture of the essential rôle played by the Menestrels in the early XVII century confronted by the arrival of a new style which was to become « la Belle Danse », carefully described and defended by Beauchamp.

Year of publication: 2020

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