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Royal Coronation Dances by Bob Margolis (after Claude Gervaise). Hear streaming audio on this page. Suitable for middle school and high school bands, 4-3/4 minutes duration, Grade 3.


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Hear a complete performance in stereo streaming audio using (& requiring) QuickTime 3 or newer:

  • Hear a complete performance of Royal Coronation Dances
    (movement 1, "Arrival of the Court")
  • Hear a complete performance of Royal Coronation Dances
    (movement 2, "Procession of the Queen")
  • Hear a complete performance of Royal Coronation Dances
    (movement 3, "Sporting Games")

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Read our primer on QuickTime, streaming audio, & MP3

Royal Coronation Dances is the first sequel to the composer's Fanfare Ode & Festival. The second sequel is The Renaissance Fair.

Scroll down for program notes & instrumentation

Notes & Musings

Royal Coronation Dances is the first sequel to the Fanfare Ode & Festival, both being settings of dance music originally arranged by Gervaise in the mid 16th-century. (The next sequel is The Renaissance Fair, which uses music of Susato and Praetorius)

Fanfare Ode & Festival has been performed by many tens of thousands of students, both in high school and junior high school. I have heard that some of them are amazed that the music they are playing was first played and danced to over 400 years ago.

Some students tend to think that music "started" with Händel and his Messiah to be followed by Beethoven and his Fifth Symphony, with naught in between or before of consequence. One goal of Manhattan Beach Music has been to help put Renaissance dance music back on the map. Our three most popular editions are in fact of 16th-century music, namely: #1: Fanfare Ode & Festival, #2: The Battle Pavane, #3: Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie. Although Royal Coronation Dances is derived from the same source as Fanfare Ode & Festival, they are treated in different ways. I envisioned this new suite programmatically -- hence the descriptive movement titles, which I imagined to be various dances actually used at some long-ago coronation.

The first movement depicts the guests, both noble and common, flanked by flag and banner bearers, arriving at the palace to view the majestic event. They are festive, their flags swirling the air, their cloaks brightly colored. In the second movement, the queen in stately measure moves to take her place on the throne as leader and protector of the realm. In the third movement, the jesters of the court entertain the guests with wild games of sport. Musically, there are interesting sonorities to recreate.

Very special attention should be given to the tambourine/tenor drum part in the first movement. Their lively rhythms give the movement its power. Therefore they should be played as distinctly and brilliantly as possible. The xylophone and glockenspiel add clarity, but must not be allowed to dominate. Observe especially the differing dynamics; the intent is to allow much buzzing bass to penetrate. The small drum (starting at meas. 29) should be played expressively, with attention to the notated articulations, with the brass light and detached, especially in a lively auditorium.

It is of some further interest that the first dance is extremely modal. The original is clearly in G mixolydian mode (scale: G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G). However, other editors might put in F-sharps in many places (changing the piece almost to G major), in the belief that such ficta would have been automatically put in by the 16th-century performers as they played. I doubt it. I have not only eschewed these within the work, but even at the cadences. So this arrangement is most distinctly modal (listen to the F-naturals in meas. 22 and 23, for instance), with all the part-writing as Gervaise wrote it.

In the second movement, be careful that things do not become too glued together. In the 16th century this music might have been played by a consort of recorders, instruments very light of touch and sensitive to articulation. Concert band can easily sound heavy, and although this movement has been scored for tutti band, it must not sound it. It is essential, therefore, that you hear all the instruments, with none predominating. Only when each timbre can be heard separately and simultaneously will the best blend occur, and consequently the greatest transparency. So aim for a transparent, spacious tutti sound in this movement. Especially have the flutes, who do this so well, articulate rather sharply, so as to produce a chiffing sound, and do not allow the quarter-notes to become too tied together in the entire band. The entrance of the drums (first tenor, then bass) are events and as such should be audible. Incidentally, this movement begins in F Major and ends in D Minor: They really didn't care so much about those things then.

The third movement (one friend has remarked that it is the most Margolisian of the bunch, but actually I am just getting subtler, I hope) again relies upon the percussion (and the scoring) to make its points. Xylophone in this movement is meant to be distinctly audible. Therefore, be especially sure that the xylophone player is secure in the part, and also that the tambourine and toms sound good. This movement must fly or it will sink, so "rev" up the band and conduct it in 1 for this mixolydian jesting. I suppose the wildly unrelated keys (clarinets and then brass at the end) would be a good 16th-century joke, but to us, our "put-up-the-chorus-a-half-step" ears readily accept such shenanigans.


The first movement, Arrival of the Court, contains two different dances - an Almande from the Troisieme Livre de Danceries (1556) followed by a Bransle de Champaigne from the Sixième Livre de Danceries (1555). The second movement, Procession of the Queen, is the well-known Pavane d'Angleterre (Pavane of England) from the Sixième Livre. The third movement, Sporting Games, is a Bransle Gay, also from the Sixième Livre. I have always preferred the out-of-print Henry Expert edition of the Danceries (Paris: Alphonse Leduc, 1908, being a volume of Les Maîtres Musiciens de la Renaissance Française), probably because they are a good selection, and because there are not too many ficta. However, this edition is only available in libraries; there is a modern edition of The Attaignant Dance Prints (in a number of volumes) from London Pro Musica Edition in modern clefs, and with more editorial ficta.

For those who prefer the original, there is a Minkoff facsimile edition; be prepared for the original clefs and note values, and the ficta are on you.



in memoriam


September 24, 1961 - September 10, 2000


Copyright © 1999 Manhattan Beach Music. All Rights Reserved.

Performance by Donald S. George conducting the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Band.

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