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Music and Society in Early Modern England is the first comprehensive survey of English popular music during the early modern period to be published in over one hundred and fifty years. Christopher Marsh offers a fascinating and broad-ranging account of musicians, the power of music, broadside ballads, dancing, psalm-singing and bell-ringing. Drawing on sources ranging from ballads, plays, musical manuscripts and diaries to wills, inventories, speeches and court records, he investigates the part played by music in the negotiation of social relations, revealing its capacity both to unify and to divide. The book is lavishly illustrated and is accompanied by a CD featuring forty-eight specially commissioned recordings by the critically acclaimed Dufay Collective. These include the first ever attempts to reconstruct the distinctively early-modern sounds of ‘rough music' and unaccompanied congregational psalm-singing.Read more
- Provides a unique perspective on the relationship between music and social relations, indicating the role of music within popular culture
- Lavishly illustrated and accompanied by forty-eight specially commissioned recordings by the award-winning Dufay Collective
- Covers a wide range of commonplace musical forms, activities and practitioners during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries appealing to historians, musicologists, practising musicians and general readers
- Winner of the 2011 Ratcliff Prize
Reviews & endorsements
"Marsh’s book is a massive amalgam of evidence, much of it newly discovered. The richness is undeniable: we can be grateful that he has so effectively broadened the soundscape of early modern England."
Jessie Ann Owens, The Journal of Modern HistorySee more reviews
"Music and society in early modern Englandoffers a rich and colourful picture of music-making in the lives of men and women in the 16th and 17th centuries … this is a thoroughly researched and enlightening book that covers areas which have often received little attention from musicologists and even less from social historians … This is a must-read for those intrigued to know more about the everyday musical practices of the general population of early modern England, or the significance and meanings of music in their lives."
Katherine Butler, Early Music
"This is much more than a survey of early modern attitudes to music … Dr Marsh offers a striking thesis on the dynamic relationship between music and words or performance … A paperback edition should fly off the shelves as fast as broadside ballads and psalmbooks did four hundred years ago."
Ian Green, English Historical Review
"This masterful synthesis was 20 years in the making and well worth the wait … [Marsh] writes music history for his fellow historians, not for music historians or musicologists … and the work is the better for that, accessible to all with broad interest in the subject … Displaying his formidable, painstaking, and intelligent research and interpretations to full effect with lively, often humorous writing … the book as a whole is a triumph."
W. Metcalfe, Choice
"… a much-needed addition to the literature … Each chapter is a cornucopia of examples gleaned from primary sources … this book is destined to alter current perceptions of music-making in early modern England."
Penelope Gouk, Folklore
"Marsh provides extremely well-documented and beautifully-detailed glimpses into the uses and occasional abuses of music among all sorts of practitioners from early Tudor times until the mid-eighteenth century … The entire publication is a model of how exacting scholarship and historically-informed performance can be brought together usefully and imaginatively for a range of academic readers."
Linda Phyllis Austern, Renaissance Quarterly
"This new study by Marsh is an audacious undertaking, but one which will surely become the starting point for all serious work in the subject, and one with which established scholars will be required to come to terms … the work is richly illustrated and elegantly written with scarcely a sentence that is less than lucid. Music and Society in Early Modern England is based on a formidable body of scholarship, including the most recent unpublished dissertations. It is a remarkable achievement, and it may be a generation before it is superseded."
Peter Webster, Reformation
"A remarkable achievement … The combination here of archival research, scholarly circumspection, multiple critical approaches, genuinely fresh analysis of musical examples, imaginative performances on the CD, and above all respect for the lived experience of individuals recommends Music and Society in Early Modern England to a wide variety of readers, including performers of early modern music as well as scholars of early modern culture."
Bruce R. Smith, Music and Letters
"After finishing Music and Society in Early Modern England you'll probably be struck by how scrupulously and thoroughly it's researched as much as by the cogency of Marsh's narrative … the copious footnotes which Marsh employs are inline, and always helpful. Quotes and quotations abound. The expected exhaustive, albeit described as "Select", bibliography is joined by lists of abbreviations and so on to add to the sense that you're in very good hands with this material, all of it. In other words, this is a scholarly, encyclopedic work; and one that will act as the definitive source of reference for some long time to come. Thoroughly recommended."
Mark Sealey, Classical Net
"Musical life offers one of the better contexts within which to study society generally … Christopher Marsh followed that path in masterful fashion here in discussing the social contexts of the ballad, the catch, congregational psalm singing, dance music, and change-ringing in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries … by far the most up-to-date analysis of how the English Reformation affected church music."
William Weber, Journal of Social History
"A cultural history of music in early modern England beyond the reach of musicology … Marsh is not only learned but also very entertaining, with a sharp eye for peculiar practices."
Susanne Rup, Shakespeare Jahrbuch
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- Date Published: November 2010
- format: Mixed media product
- isbn: 9780521898324
- length: 624 pages
- dimensions: 253 x 181 x 32 mm
- weight: 1.38kg
- contains: 58 b/w illus.
- availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
Table of Contents
1. The power of music
2. Occupational musicians: denigration and defence
3. Occupational musicians: employment prospects
4. Recreational musicians
5. Ballads and their audience
6. Balladry and the meanings of melody
7. 'The skipping art': dance and society
8. Parish church music: the rise of the 'singing psalms'
9. Parish church music: bells and their ringers
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