Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare and Music:

Naylor, Edward W. Shakespeare and Music. 1896. NY: AMS Press Inc., 1965.

"Out of thirty-seven plays of Shakespeare, there / are no less than thirty-two which contain interesting references to music and musical matters in the text itself. There are also over three hundred stage directions which are musical in their nature, and these occur in thirty-six out of thirty-seven plays. The musical references in the text are most commonly found in the comedies, and are generally the occasion or instrument of word-quibbling and witticisms; while the musical stage directions belong chiefly to the tragedies, and are mostly of a military nature" (3-4).

Henry VIII a "practical musician" (9).

"Anne Boleyn was an enthusiastic musician, and, according to Hawkins, 'doted on the compositions of Jusquin and Mouton, and had collections of them made for the private practice of herself and her maiden companions'" (10).

"The Dumpe (from Swedish Dialect, dumpa, to dance awkwardly) was a slow, mournful dance" (23).

"Strambotti, country gigges, rounds, catches, virelaies" (83). "Giraldus Cambrensis says that singing in parts was indigenous to the parts beyond the Humber, and on the borders of Yorkshire" (83).

Henry IV Part One: "I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or anything." "This last sentence connects curiously with Sir John Oldcastle, the leader of the Lollards, who were noted for their psalm singing, which indeed gave them the name" (86).

Twelfth Night: "gabbling like tinkers," "alehouse," squeaking out your "cozier's catches" ["cozier" is " "cobbler"] (87).

Pericles: "my ears were never better fed / With such delightful pleasing harmony" (102).

Henry VIII: "It would be of great interest if it were possible to identify Queen Katherine's 'Knell'" (111). Possibly, "'Defiléd is my name full sore, / Through cruel spite and false report' and he says the verses are thought to have been written by Anne Boleyn" (111).

Bergamasca language. MND V.ii.30 "where Bottom is not so very inaccurate after all in asking the Duke to 'hear a Bergomask dance between two of our company.' The same author also gives 'Passamesos with a dittie [i.e., sung],' and distinguishes between these aforesaid and 'those kinds which they make without ditties' [Passamesos are Passing-measures -- or Passémezzo -- Pavans, see Twelfth Nt. 5/1, 200.] (114).

Timon I.ii.131 stage direction. "corresponds closely with Morley's account, 'the Italians make their galliards (which they tearm [sic] salta relly) plain' [i.e., alone; not as an appendage to the Pavan, as in England]" (115).

Twelfth Night, Pythagoras "concerning wild-fowl" (152). Antony and Cleopatra V.ii.84 "the tunèd spheres" plus "music from the spheres" (Twelfth Night III.i.115) plus "The music of the spheres" (Pericles V.i.226). (152).

"There are very few cases of this kind in Shakespeare--i.e., where the music of the stage is an integral part of the drama" (159). (Antony and Cleopatra IV.iii.12)

"A very usual popular amusement was the Masque, which would consist of a public procession with decorated cars containing the characters, accompanied by hobby horses, tumblers, and open air music" (159).

"Skeat gives the original of the term as 'all'arme' (Ital.) a war cry of the time of the Crusades" (166).

"In Anthony Munday's comedy The Two Italian Gentlemen (about 1584), the different kinds of music to be played after each act are mentioned -- e.g., 'a pleasant galliard,' 'a solemn dump,' or 'a pleasant Allemayne'" (170).

Music Bibliography
Shakespeare Index