Mainly Opera

Digital Dance

ORO 102

Digital Dance

A seminal account of the plucking keyboard by David Kinsela heard in Renaissance dances (Memmo, Attaingnant, Newman, Byrd, Facoli, Gardane) and Baroque favourites (Bach’s Italian Concerto, Rameau’s Les Tendres Plaintes, Handel’s ‘The Harmonious Blacksmith’ Suite), using an Italian virginal of 1629 (the oldest instrument in Australia) and an English harpsichord of 1763, both from the Powerhouse Museum. Five of the sixteen tracks feature percussion by Michael Atherton (spoons, tabor, tambourine, bells, wood block, bodhran).

David Kinsela, harpsichord, virginal
Michael Atherton, percussion


Digital Dance presents 25 years’ work in reconstructing early keyboard techniques, particularly the skill of running across the keys in ‘paired fingering’ which creates a distinctive energy and eloquence. The technique is described in the accompanying booklet. The rhythmic discipline of the dance requires specific tempi, strong pulse and suppression of Romantic habits such as cadential ritenuti. By way of compensation, paired fingering leads to habits of spontaneity and of controlled irregularity (inégale), and results in an organic manner of ‘swinging the beat’.

The program opens with the famous but anonymous piece My Lady Careys Dompe which the annotations show to have been dedicated to the distinguished courtesan Mary Boleyn, sister of Ann Boleyn. That may well have been composed by the Venetian organist Dionisio Memmo during his chaplaincy to King Henry VIII.

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