Music in Caroline plays
Wood, Julia K.
This thesis is the first comprehensive study dedicated to music in Caroline plays. The drama of the Caroline period marked the end of the great 'Elizabethan' theatrical tradition. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the Caroline theatre and Caroline plays being virtually subsumed into the Elizabethan and Jacobean. The music in the plays, which has received little critical attention, has never been studied as a body in its own right. Moreover, a relation between Caroline, Elizabethan and Jacobean traditions has nearly always been assumed; to such an extent that the traditions have largely been treated as identical. Those few commentators who have bothered to consider changes in musical practice have been influenced by preconceptions resulting from an erroneous historical perspective; and this has led them to a general undervaluing of Caroline theatre music. The issue of the music in the plays constitutes a notable omission from the recent important studies of Caroline drama and theatre, and a detailed examination and revaluation is long overdue. I set out to do a more thorough survey than has hitherto been attempted. In particular, this is the first study to be based on a survey of all 260 new plays dating from 1625 to 1642 of which texts survive, and on extensive research into musical sources and transcription of a large number of pieces of music. This work has provided a substantial amount of new material. There are some significant findings and conclusions, and I demonstrate that the music in Caroline plays merits neither the neglect nor the cavalier dismissal which it has received in the past. I begin by discussing the composers and performers of theatre music and the location of the latter. Next I look at evidence of the types of music in Caroline plays: song, instrumental music and dance. I then go on to discuss the uses of music in the plays, referring where possible to surviving music (a neglected issue) and discussing it in dramatic context. I give special emphasis to instrumental music and dance, which have previously been given little attention, and I take a more theatrical approach in my analysis of the uses than has been pursued in the past. I deal first with music integral to the plot and emotionally supportive music; then with technically supportive music, music included purely to amuse the audience and music as structural articulation. I identify many musical conventions, and investigate the use of 'conventional types' of music (certain kinds of music which are consistently associated with particular types of dramatic situation). Finally I evaluate the importance of music in the Caroline theatre. I have sought to establish that song, instrumental music and dance had an important role in drama of the time, and that all were important as part of the theatrical experience. The music in Caroline plays is also important historically. There were indeed many similarities with the Elizabethan and Jacobean traditions, but traditions were not static. The view that there was a decline in the use of music compared to earlier practices is refuted. Although the closing of the theatres in 1642 was in many ways a moment of decisive discontinuity, musical practices provide a link between the Caroline and Restoration periods. The extent of Caroline foreshadowing of Restoration practices is striking and to many will be unexpected. The overall pattern is one of basic continuity in musical practices in plays throughout the seventeenth century. One of the main aims of this study has been to identify as much as possible of the music that survives. An important finding is that a substantial body of music is extant, much more than was thought. There are musical sources for settings of or tunes for a total of 113 lyrics from Caroline plays (including settings which are new to musical scholarship); for thirty-one of the instrumental tunes which are called for by name in specific Caroline plays; and for another fourteen instrumental tunes which may be associated with plays. The sources for this music are listed in Appendix 1, which provides a current catalogue of all surviving music associated with specific Caroline plays. Appendix 2 is an edition which makes available thirty-one settings of Caroline dramatic lyrics and symphonies for three further songs, none of which has previously been published in a modern edition; they include newly identified songs. These Appendices are an important adjunct of the thesis, as are Appendices 3 and 4, which are a comprehensive listing of all the specified instances of instrumental music and dance contained in Caroline play-texts, classified by their dramatic context or function.