Quadrille Dance Music in Grenada

Grade Level

Selection: Six Figure Quadrille: Number 1
Performer: Canute Caliste

Activity #1: Figuring Out the Music
1. Listen to "Six Figure Quadrille Number 1."

Q: What instruments are the performers playing?

A: A fiddle, triangle, bass drum, and tambourine.

Q: What is the function of this music?

A: To inspire, or to accompany, dancing.

2. Play the recording again, and keep the 6/8 feeling of the melody by patting on '1' and clapping on '4.' On another listening, step to the '1' and '2,' knees bending into a gentle bounce. This movement can be performed freely, moving anywhere in the room, or in a circle.

3. Encourage students to follow the fiddle's melody, directing them through these tasks.

Q: How is the melody organized?

A: There are repeated A and B sections, and some improvised sections: AABB AABB CDCD AA

Q: Counting 1-2-3-4-5-6 in a quick 6/8 meter, or continuing the patting on '1' and clapping on '4,' how many measures long are the A and B sections?

A: Each section runs four measures of 6/8 (counting 6 quick beats four times, or patting '1' and clapping '2' four times).

Q: Listen to the melody's movement from one harmonic 'region' to another, and play these chords for the A and B sections on the first and fourth beats.

A: I I I I V V I I


Q: Where might this melody, played by a musician in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, have originated?

A: Based upon the lilting 6/8 metered melody (and one that suggests a harmony of I, IV, and V chords), either Ireland, Scotland, or England.

4. Pick up fiddles, flutes, or other pitched instruments, and while someone chords the harmonic progression, experiment with playing-by-ear the melody of the A and B sections. Another possibility is to improvise a melody following the 6/8 meter and chord structures of the two phrases.

5. Improvise a percussion accompaniment by adding triangles, drums, and tambourines that play on '1' and '4,' and in between as well. Note that the recording features syncopations and accents off the main beat, influences that are more African than European.

Suggested Activity #2: Dancing a Basic Quadrille

1. While listening to "Six Figure Quadrille #1," step in place, bending the knees (down) on '1' and rising up on '4'-all the while keeping a characteristic bounce.

2. Explain that the dance music is called quadrille, reflecting an historic dance in 18th-century France (and later in the French Caribbean, such as throughout Grenada) that was performed at elegant cotillion balls. The quadrille is a predecessor of the American square dance, and was performed by four couples who form a square and move in and out and around one another in a most intricate manner.

3. Form a square with eight people, divided into four partners who link arm-in-arm (or hold their inside hands on short scarves). Have students recall the basic four-measure form of the A and B sections, with each section repeated twice. Then walk through this basic movement as partner.

Q: How is the melody organized?

A: Step in Measure 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Step out 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

A: Repeat above

B: Face right, step with partner around square: Step/Measure 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

B: Continue to step with partner around the square and 'back home' to original spot: Step/Measure 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

4. Perform the quadrille with the recording, stopping after performing twice. Students may wish to perform their quadrille music, learned (or invented) in the first activity, to accompany dancers in this simple quadrille.

Cultural Link: Carriacou, Grenada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France

Designed by Patricia Shehan Campbell