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Le Gratie d'Amore: Texts

A guide to resources relating to this early 17th-century dance treatise.

Cesare Negri and Le Gratie d'Amore

Sutton, Julia. Negri, Cesare. The International Encyclopedia of Dance. Oxford University Press, 1998. Oxford Reference. 2005.

"Cesare Negri... is the author of an important dance manual, Le gratie d'amore (1602), reissued as Nuove inventioni di balli (1604). Dedicated to the ruler of Milan, Philip III of Spain, most of it was written during the long reign of Philip II (died 1598). The book is divided into three sections, or treatises: the first provides information about  Negri's professional life, his colleagues, students, and productions; the second describes typical galliard steps and galliard variations of varying lengths, with a broad spectrum of technical demands; and the third gives definitions of steps and step patterns for dancing, with forty-three complete choreographies and their music (in Italian lute tablature and mensural notation)....." This IED article has an extensive bibliography, containing, among other references, the Jones and  Kendall dissertations linked below, as well as Jones' article, Editions of Cesare Negri's Le Gratie d'Amore.

Jones, Pamela. The Relation between Music and Dance in Cesare Negri's ‘Le gratie d'amore’ (1602). 2  vols. Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1988.  Available online:   volume 1 ; volume 2.

This thesis examines the relation between music and dance in late-Renaissance Italy by studying the choreographies and music in Cesare Negri's Le gratie d'amore (1602). Vol. 1 contains the following background material: biographical information on Negri and a summary of his treatise; a survey of other late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century sources on dance; a perspective on modern studies of late-Renaissance dance (previous reconstructions, histories of dance, writings by musicologists); and a study of the different states of the 1602 and 1604 editions of Negri's treatise which shows that revisions were made while the book was in the process of publication. Vol. 1 continues with a presentation of the system of proportional relationships that underlies the relative durations of the steps and step components in the choreographies of Caroso and Negri. The rhythmic changes involved in transferring steps from duple to triple metre (and vice versa) are explained with the aid of tables and examples drawn from Negri's dances.

The following chapter, on musical problems, shows that a study of the choreographies is often sufficient to clarify and correct the ambiguities and errors in the rhythmic notation of the music. Vol. 2 offers reconstructions of six complete choreographies. Steps are lined up under music so that the information given in vol. 1 can be studied in a more complete context. These reconstructions show the range of problems facing the choreologist, from dances which can be reconstructed with confidence to those with serious ambiguities. Vol. 2 also contains an edition of all the music from Negri's treatise with critical commentary. The thesis demonstrates that musical problems can often be resolved by studying the choreographic texts and that reconstruction becomes more accurate if the exact relation between steps and music is understood.
"Your most humble servant, Cesare Negri Milanese," chapter 10 (p. 211) in Dance, Spectacle and theBody Politick, 1250-1750, edited by Jennifer Nevile, offers a detailed discussion of Negri's career and the reasons behind the writing of Le Gratie D'Amore (available in print from the TCU Library catalog).

Le Gratie in Italian

Negri, Cesare.  Le Gratie d'Amore 1602.  Binsted, Hampshire: Noverre Press, ©2012.  Facsimile reprint; originally published in Milan: Pacifico Pontio & Gio. Battista Piccaglia, 1602.  Main Stacks, Call No.: GV1590 .N4 2012

Negri, Cesare. Le Gratie d’Amore: a facsimile of the 1602 edition. New York : Broude Bros., [1969]. Monuments of Music and Music Literature in Facsimile, Second series, Music literature, 141. Main Stacks, Call No: [Quarto] GV1590 .N4 1969

Nuove Inventioni di Balli, 1604, via the  Library of Congress

Originally published as Le Gratie d'Amore in 1602, this manual is considered one of them most valuable and diverse primary sources on Italian court dance. Divided into three parts, the first part illuminates the career and students of dancing master Cesare Negri (ca. 1536-ca. 1604; also known as Il Trombone).

The second part is devoted to the era's most virtuosic dance type, the galliard; and the third section details a wide repertory of additional steps utilized in the treatise's forty-three choreographies. Many of the choreographies are preceded by full-page illustrations and each dance is provided with appropriate music written in Italian lute tablature and/or mensural notation.

Additional texts

Jones, Pamela. The Editions of Cesare Negri's Le Gratie d'Amore: Choreographic Revisions in Printed Copies. Studi musicali 21 (1991): 21–33.  TCU's holdings for Studi Musicali currently do not precede 2006.  However, this article is, at this time, available online via the link above.
Jones, Pamela. Spectacle in Milan: Cesare Negri's Torch Dances. Early Music 14.2 (1986): 182–196.  This scholarly article presents reconstructions of Negri's "torch dances" and their accompanying music.

Le Gratie in English

Kendall, Gustavia Yvonne.  LeGratie D’Amore” 1602 by Cesare Negri:  Translation and Commentary.  Stanford University, 1985. 

v, 514 [i.e 581] pages, [58] pages of plates : illustrations, music. [Link to open source version.]

Italian with English translation and commentary. Translation includes transcriptions of dance music in modern notation. Includes bibliographical references (pages 512-514).  (Click on image to see contents.)
Dissertation abstract:  Le Gratie d'Amore represents the most complete picture of the art of dancing of late 16th and early 17th century Italy. It is a manual in 3 treatises that displays in the third and largest treatise, all of the major choreographical trends in 16th century dance, including: balli, sectional dances with varied step groupings; balletti, dances with pantomimic or programmatic elements; more traditional couple dances of a processional nature; and lastly, long variation sets. Because each choreography is accompanied by music, the manual becomes valuable for musicologists as well as dance scholars, since the performance of the dance can give many useful clues concerning the performance of the music and vice versa. Moreover, the nature of the music notation is significant. In previous dance manuals there was either no music at all, tenors written in blackened breves, or simple tunes with no specified instrumentation. Negri, however, contains not only tunes in mensural notation but chordal accompaniments in lute tablature. Of additional interest in the first 2 treatises of Le Gratie are the descriptions of elaborate leaps and spins, some of which can be used as ornaments for the basic steps given in the third treatise, and the descriptions of numerous variations for the gagliarda, the most virtuosic dance of the day. The first treatise lists Negri's credentials, including his teachers and students and the royal personages for whom he danced, these including some of the most important names in European political history of that time. There are also fairly detailed descriptions in an elaborate prose style of fetes and intermedios that Negri directed in Milan, making it clear that Florence was not alone in the presentation of fabulous spectacles. I have translated the text into English, trying to retain as much of the flavor of the original as possible, while at the same time clarifying the ideas. The music has been transcribed into modern notation with the lute part presented in piano score. The commentary that precedes the translation discusses the general contents in condensed form and then goes on to deal with such matters as the differences in 16th century and modern Italian that are problematic in translation, the various dance types included, the transcription and performance of the music, and the reconstruction of the dances for performance. Finally, there are appendices that list the instruments mentioned in the manual, mistakes found in the music, and the rhythmic timing of all the basic steps.