Music in Shakespeare


The start text is the Norton-Oxford second edition of the complete works, Stephen Greenblatt (general editor), Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard and Katharine Eisaman Maus (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2008), except for Edward III which uses the Royal Shakespeare Company edition (ed. Roger Warren, 2002) in order to keep the Cambridge and Oxford texts as the comparators.

Three commonly used modern editions of individual plays, namely Arden, Cambridge and Oxford have been collated and variants recorded. Comparative act/scene/line numbers have been noted.

The modern editions have been collated with F1 (First Folio, 1623) and Qs where appropriate. Subsequent folios (F2 1632, F3 1664, F4 1685) have been compared with F1 and what very few variants occur have been noted in the Comments column, early Quarto editions are referred to as appropriate.

Empty boxes or ones containing an En-dash indicate there is no variant or that a music reference is not specified.

Only variants affecting the musical reference have been recorded or in some cases where the variant, such as punctuation, affects the context of the musical reference. Spelling variations have been noted only if they impinge on the reading of a musical reference. For example, ‘viol’/’vial’ has been noted since this might have consequences for a musical interpretation. Other examples include ‘base’/’bass’, ‘ayre’/’air’, etc. Variations such as ‘speake’/’speeke’/’speak’, on the other hand, have not been singled out because they do not have musical significance.

Characters and stage directions are identified in Norton-Oxford and F1. Discrepancies can be seen by comparing the columns; no further comment is added.

Explicit stage directions and cues (such as ‘sings’, ‘music plays’, ‘wind horns’, etc.) have been indicated by italics. No other italicisation, except song titles in F1, has been kept or introduced.

Musical references are identified by ^ . . .^, for example in the passage when her waiting-woman upbraids Julia for the inadequacy of her unmusical singing in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, musical terms and phrases are indicated in the immediate context in which they occur, as in: ‘Nay, now you are too ^flat^,/And mar the ^concord^ with too ^harsh a descant^./There wanteth but a ^mean^ to ^fill your song^.’ (1.2.94-96)

F1 orthography has been retained although the long ‘s’ has been silently emended.

Terms from dance have been identified as musical even though they do not always involve music. Similarly, terms with military or civic associations such as march, retreat, parley, are included though they are often not accompanied by musical instruments. Where an instrument might be played, a drum is usually the most appropriate. Noises such as ordnance, shouts and cries, alarums, etc where a musical sense is contextualised are also recorded.