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Stamp 'To avoid erotic thoughts'


STAMP (to avoid erotic thoughts) takes as its point of departure some bars from an Italian Salterello dating from the 14th century, a manuscript of which is housed in the British Library. It is a particularly wonderful dance, which in this instance switches instantly between a 7/8 and 6/8 grouping. I take this subversive wrong footing as a license to develop various metrical intrigues through STAMP, and the piece is infused throughout with bars that can simultaneously be perceived as 6/8 or 3/4.

Having recently fallen in love with the French Estampie I had wanted to use this as a source. It has wonderful, occasionally wrong-footing, form bound together by recurring rhyming ending refrains. Johnannes de Groecheio, writing in the 14th century, claimed that the Estampie was so complex, so that it obliged the young people dancing it to concentrate and avoid erotic thoughts! I thought ‘wonderful—did it ever catch on here (Ireland)?’ However the extant notations did not trigger a way forward for me, so I was delighted when I found this particularly strange Salterello, as that Italian form is quite clearly derived from the French Estampie. I like to think of the spirit of this piece as a strange cross between the ringing visceral open-stringed resonances and ebergy of an Irish session and the wonderful twists and turns of these related medieval dance forms.

STAMP was commissioned by Music Network (with funding from The Arts Council of Ireland) for the Smith Quartet.

from notes by Donnacha Dennehy © 2011


Studio Master: SIGCD236Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 13 on SIGCD236 [7'25] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD236 track 13

Recording date
1 January 2010
Recording venue
St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Alexander Van Ingen & Tim Oldham
Recording engineer
Andrew Mellor
Hyperion usage
  1. Dance (SIGCD236)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: February 2011
    Download only
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