Day 12: Suite No. 2 in D minor, Gigue

Competitive Irish dancing. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Miranda Wilson

Today I was eager to inspire my playing with some more dance videos. The best video of a danced Baroque gigue that I could find on YouTube was this example from a music video by Il Giardino Armonico, where two ladies in period costume jump energetically about the room with sly expressions on their faces. Normally I try never to read the comments underneath YouTube videos, because in general they’re idiotic, but I couldn’t suppress a smile at the one about “pirate wenches.” 

For reasons I don’t understand, a dour gentleman in an antique chair looks on disapprovingly. (The dancing master? The world-weary pirate king?)

This YouTube search for danced gigues led me ineluctably onwards into the murky underworld of the Irish dancing competition, of which there are many videos posted. I watched video after fuzzy home video of grim-faced pre-teen girls in dresses that would look quite good on Little Bo-Peep, hairstyles sprayed into the consistency of concrete, and tremendously well-applied fake tan, going after the prizes with the ruthless determination of…well, serial killers sprang to mind.

I suppose this is a convenient segue into the fact that I felt a little grim-faced myself in today’s recording. After yesterday’s experience of a frustrating intonation battle in the Menuets, I think I was feeling altogether a bit too careful in today’s recording of the Gigue. The fact is that it too is a very fiddly little piece. What with so much dashing all over the neck position at breakneck speed, not to mention the long pedal points that also use double stops ( every one of which has to be clearly enunciated), you don’t really have a minute to kick back and relax and pretend to be a pirate wench or whatever. I chose Take 3, mostly because Take 1 featured me looking remarkably like a funeral director, and Take 2 (the one I’d tried to make the “fun” one after watching Take 1) was too messy.

Today’s video.

Today’s practice list: D minor Gigue; C major Prelude and Allemande; C minor Prelude.


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