Watch the Level 3: Beginner Classical online guitar lesson by Andrew Leonard from Take 5: Beginner Classical
Ah, the stories one accumulates when studying classical guitar. Who knew there was a piece written to celebrate long distance dancing!
This piece was written in honor of Will Kemp's 9 day trip of 100 miles from London to Norwich, England. Kemp danced a jig the entire way to win a bet.
Will Kemp was a famous Elizabethan actor best known for his comic roles. He was a member of Lord Chamberlain's Men (aka, The King's Men), the group actors most associated with performances of William Shakespeare's plays.
During the Renaissance composers were writing music for worship in church, serious compositions intended for listening and pieces for dancing and kickin' back and have a good time. Kemp's Jig obviously falls into the latter group.
One thing to keep in mind: during the Renaissance the guitar did not yet exist. The instrument most similar is the lute. "Kemp's Jig" and most famous melodies from the Renaissance were played solo on the lute among other Renaissance instruments and in a consort (Renaissance term for band).
An interesting thing to know about the Renaissance consort: the instrumentation is just like bands today. There is no standard or official instrumental combination. Music was heard on the instruments the performers had with them at the time. With an internet search for "Kemp's Jig", you can find performances of Renaissance consorts and solo lutenists performing this piece.