The extravagant dance called cancan always stirred up the visitors at the Moulin Rouge cabaret in the poor neighbourhod of Montmartre in Paris. Even though the prudish society prohibited it at first, the dance captivated everyone later on and became a common form of entertainment and amusement.

The most famous melody associated with this dance is the ballet from the operetta Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) by Jacques Offenbach.

Let’s move a few centuries forward. We have tried Offenbach’s famous melody at the winter accordionists’ workshop 2015, where we pracised dutifully the rhythm, playing together, and in the end the dancing itself. I believe that all ended up well and that we really enjoyed ourselves. I’ve prepared scores and an instructional recording for you, so that you can try it at home.

SCORES –  PDF  MSCZ  VideoScore

instructional recording

A few tips how to get the right “drive” into the composition: focus at the dynamics, follow carefully forte and piano. These parts interchange throughout the composition many times. These large dynamic leaps and contrasts, when you step up a certain part into strong forte, broken off all of a sudden by quiet piano, are a big surprise and pleasure to the listeners (as well as the player). You can support them also with the help of registers: when you play piano, use the 8’ or its variations, and when you play forte, don’t be afraid to switch on the master register (this is the register that switches on all the voices of your accordion). This adds even more to the cancan’s vivacity.

The tempo also has a very important role. When you practise, start with a metronome, and with its help step the tempo up, keeping to it from the beginning to the end. Imagine that you are playing for the cabaret dancers… They need a certain pace to swing their feet so high!

Good luck, hard will and a lot of enjoyment while learning and playing!

article, scores, instructional recording | Žaneta Vítová
published on 25/05/2015