1st Edition

The Almain in Britain, c.1549-c.1675 A Dance Manual from Manuscript Sources

By Ian Payne Copyright 2003

    This complete scholarly edition of the collection of manuscript choreographies from c.1565-c.1675 associated with the Inns of Court is the first full-length study of these sources to be published. It offers practical reconstructions of the dances and provides a selection of musical settings simply but idiomatically arranged for four-part instrumental ensemble or keyboard.   Part One centres on the manuscript sources which transmit the Almain, and on the trends and influences that shaped its evolution in Britain from c. 1549 to c. 1675, taking account of both music and choreography.  In viewing the Almain within its broader historical context, Ian Payne throws new light on the dance, arguing that, together with the ’measures’ which accompany it in the choreographies, it owes an even greater debt to the English country dance than has hitherto been acknowledged, a popular style that received its fullest expression in Playford's English Dancing Master of 1651.   The second part of the book focuses on the dances themselves. The steps are described in detail and reconstructions provided for the nine Almains and some of the other measures included in the manuscripts. Part Three comprises a complete critical edition of the manuscripts.   These easily performable versions of the dances will be an invaluable aid to those wishing to learn the dances, reconstruct them for stagings of Shakespeare's plays or Jacobean masques, and for dance historians.

    Contents: Foreword; Preface; Introduction; The Sources and the History: The manuscript sources and their contents; The measures and country dance: Trends and influences, c.1509-c.1675; The Almain in the Tudor period: origins of the dance and its music; Some aspects of Almain choreography; The Almain and its music, I: Phrase-structure and the transition from dance-music to art-music; The Almain and its music, II: Trends and influences, c.1599-c.1673; The Dances: Steps used in the Almain and other measures; Some measures other than Almains and their music; The old Almain; The new Almain; Brunswick [Almain]; Lorayne Almain; The Queen’s Almain; Cecilia Almain; New Cecilia Almain; Black Almain; Lady Layton’s measures [?Almain]; A critical edition of the manuscripts; Editorial method; Sources A; B; C; D; E; F; G; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.


    Dr Ian Payne is an Associate Lecturer in Music at the Open University, UK. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a specialist in Early English music, he has published many articles on and edited numerous editions of music from this period.

    'Dr Payne is to be congratulated on bringing together in one volume such a wide range of evidence, and for doing so in ways that will both inform and provoke discussion among scholars and practitioners alike...there is much that is excellent and thought-provoking in this book.' Early Music '... this book by a musicologist who knows all the sources and can both play and dance will be invaluable to those involved in both sides of the artificial divide... Irrespective of the dance material, the book is useful for musicians who encounter dance-based music in other contexts.' Early Music Review 'The wealth of documentary evidence, in particular the musical examples and their analysis, will be of great interest to both early musicians and dance scholars alike.' The Dancing Times 'The dance reconstructions and critical edition of the manuscript sources are excellent...' Renaissance Quarterly 'This will be an invaluable resource to teachers and choreographers... The scholarly discussion which Payne provides will serve to warn against the over-interpretation of historical dance reconstructions, and, I would hope, will encourage a more critical engagement with the portayal of dance from the past...' The Consort 'This is the only publication to include reliable transcriptions of all seven of the featured manuscript sources, with a full supporting bibliographical apparatus and commentary...[Ian Payne] has much to say that is of genuine interest...' Historical Dance