How Music Matters: Some Songs of Robert Johnson in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher.
--Sir Phillip Sidney, The Defence of Poesie (1595)
Music, according to Italian Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino, "by its nature, both spiritual and material ... at once seizes and claims as its own, man in his entirety."(1) Music is so powerful in the drama of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher that it becomes the direct onstage cause of an attempted murder and suicide, a marriage proposal to a whore, and an attempted gang rape(2)--as well as numerous more subtle changes in the plays' actions. My argument in this paper is not that music in Beaumont and Fletcher's plays is by the composer Robert Johnson--this is not new, although marginally recognized.(3) Rather, evidence points to Johnson's intentionally composing music for the particular plays in which they occur, knowing the details of the dramas as he did so. Consequently, Johnson's songs are such an important element in the plays' actions that ignoring them may lead to an impression that the plays are disjunctive. Beaumont and Fletcher's works contain so much music that some, at least, verge on being what we today call musicals--most notably The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This paper focuses on the contributions of Johnson, not Beaumont and/or Fletcher (about whose authorship there is a long-standing dispute) by examining three of Johnson's songs in detail, within the context of ideology and technique in Renaissance music.(4) When necessary to differentiate between Beaumont and Fletcher, I use Cyrus Hoy's attribution scheme.(5)
There are songs in both of the dramas that Beaumont wrote alone, The Knight of the Burning Pestle and The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. Likewise, all of the fifteen plays that Fletcher wrote alone contain songs. Curiously, extant music is less prevalent in the Beaumont-Fletcher collaboration than in the plays they wrote singly. Of the thirteen plays of collaboration, seven contain songs, either formal art songs or popular tunes, distributed evenly in scenes by Beaumont and by Fletcher: Beggars' Bush, The Captain, The Coxcomb, Cupid's Revenge, Love's Cure, The Maid's Tragedy, and The Woman Hater. The only definitive original songs available from the plays of collaboration are those by Johnson.
Many of the examples of music's playing a seminal role in the action of Beaumont and/or Fletcher's plays involve lust. Lelia's first song in The Captain is a case in point. Described in the list of characters as a "cunning wanton widow"(6) in I.iii, Lelia tries unsuccessfully to catch her suitor Julio, who is both drawn to her charms but repulsed by her reputation. Lelia suggests marriage but Julio gasps, "Married to me?/ Is that your end?" (I.iii.268-69) and quickly departs. Thus far, Lelia has tried to capture Julio with her beauty, the sound of her speaking voice, and her sexual accessibility. These are clearly not enough. When he returns, she has a song prepared,(7) Robert Johnson's "Away delights, goe seeke some other dwelling." (Example 1; see note 8 for a discussion of editorial practice for this and subsequent songs.(8)) According to the style of the time, it would not have been uncommon for this and other songs to be highly embellished.(9)
[Example 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The words alone could lead to an interpretation that the song is about Lelia's evoking pity for herself because Julio has recently been absent, and focuses on banishing delights. It serves to counter her well-deserved reputation as a loose woman. When we add Johnson's music we realize, however, that the song is only superficially about banishing delights; its primary intent is to heighten Julio's lust by camouflaging itself in the melancholy of a solo ayre. This truer purpose emerges in the prominent handling of sexual words, in the song's harmony, and in the song's final inflected melisma (passage where one syllable is set to several notes). In the first verse, the word "dye" (bar 6) is rhythmically long and falls on a strong harmonic resolution. Other such words receiving similar emphasis, particularly through matchings with rhythmically long notes, are "lye" (twice--in bars 9 and 10), "smarts" (bar 13), and the sigh, "Alas" (bars 13-14). The phrases "Lye after lye" (bars 9-10) and "fire their hearts That have been hard" (bars 15-16) flirt ambiguously with sexual undertones.
The words and phrases in the second verse are more emphatically sexual than those in the first; Lelia, having already portrayed herself as a poor, distressed maiden, becomes bolder about her seduction. Besides repeating "dye"--the phrase changes from "For I must die" in the first verse to "For I will die" in the second verse (bars 5-6)--the second verse musically asserts "love shall know me" (bars 3-4), then "overgrow me" (bars 8-9). The latter phrase has virtually the force of a command because it falls harmonically on a major cadence (V-I in the relative major, A[flat]). Apparently even camouflaged virtue is gone by the end of the second verse, which invites, "Alas for pity stay And let us dye" (bars 13-15).
Both the harmony and the inflected melisma in the conclusion emphasize the lascivious nature of Lelia and her song. For example, in the opening statement, "Away delights, goe seeke some other dwelling," (bars 1-4), the harmony (as well as the melody) really goes nowhere, but hovers clingingly with its f minor coloration. A more indicative signal is the ending, "other dwelling," on the dominant in f minor, probably a major chord. Does Lelia really want delights to leave? What she really seems to want is what she insists on, her desire to "dye" (bar 6) (in the sexual sense, but masked as the literal one). This word pairs with a plagal cadence, and repeats in both the first and second verses. The sexual interpretation is furthered by a half cadence on "lye" in bar 10. The pairing of the word "cry" (in the second verse) with major harmony gives a clue to Lelia's real feelings about "poore maids [who] cry" (bars 12-13). The inflected melisma of the cadenza seals Lelia's sexuality, for its chromaticism is traditionally linked with wickedness and sexuality in the Renaissance.(10) In the first verse this inflected melisma (bars 18-19) is on the word "mine." In the second, however, "mine" gives way to "us," in the phrase "men cannot mocke us." Besides death (which is what Lelia solicits in its erotic version), her only hope of not being mocked is to be married--which is exactly what she is trying to achieve with her song. The song asserts that one ("mine") has become two ("us"), depicting in song the achievement of her goal. When the song ends, not only Julio but also his friend Angilo are in love with Lelia. In contrast to his earlier abhorrence at the thought of marrying Lelia, Julio now says, "I'le marry you" (III.iv.161).(11)
Without actually hearing the song, it is hardly possible to appreciate the incredible mastery of Lelia's simultaneously putting forward a persuasive representation of herself as a wronged, grieving maiden and a passionate declaration that she longs to be in bed with Julio. Yet it is just this dual function that makes the song so completely effective. A courtesan presenting herself as such would use a lusty seduction song. Lelia wants a husband, not just a lover. By appealing to Julio's appetite not directly, but under the veil of a high-class melancholic ayre, Lelia is able to present herself as irresistibly marriageable. The mantel of melancholy draws Julio to Lelia and disarms him so thoroughly that her suggestive words of seduction can persuade him to wed her.(12)
The foregoing example has only hinted at the almost-magical potency of songs in the Beaumont-Fletcher dramas, which is remarkable. In earlier Renaissance plays, songs tend to heighten what is already known to be true, whereas in the Beaumont-Fletcher canon, songs can function as agents of decisive change. For example, in Othello, Desdemona's singing her famous "Willow" song heightens but does not change the audience's perception of her as a virtuous, wronged woman.(13) Similarly, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona the song "Who is Sylvia" reinforces and reveals to other characters what the audience already knows--that Proteus is foolishly in love with Sylvia. But in the Beaumont-Fletcher plays, some songs have the capacity to send the course of action in another direction altogether.
In this paper I use internal evidence to demonstrate that Johnson's songs in plays by Beaumont and by Fletcher are integral to the plays. External evidence supports such a conclusion as well. Strictly speaking, the Beaumont-Fletcher collaboration is a misnomer, for, in actuality, we have a three-way relationship between Beaumont (c.1585-1616), Fletcher (1579-1625), and Robert Johnson (c.1583-1633). Johnson, who also wrote highly acclaimed music for Shakespeare, John Webster, and Ben Johnson, was a lutenist and composer employed by the King's Men (earlier known as Lord Chamberlain's Men, the company that first acted The Captain) beginning in 1596 with his indenturing to George Carey who, as Lord Chamberlain, was its patron.(14) It is likely, or at least plausible, that Beaumont and Fletcher went to Johnson with the texts for their songs and explained their dramatic functions. Johnson then, with the approval of the playwrights, wrote music that would best accomplish the dramatic purposes. In the songs here examined most of the detailed text painting(15) applies to first verses, a situation that points to a hypotheses of serial order in composition: first text, then music. Whereas any number of verses can be composed to fit the rhythm of a musical setting, the details of the music are rarely composed (for obvious reasons) to fit the specific meaning of more than one verse of a song. The music can, however, reflect the meaning of multiple stanzas in a more abstract way--often in a cumulative manner.
Beaumont and Fletcher's plays--presumably the complete ones, including music--were so popular that they dominated the English stage for much of the seventeenth century. For example John Dryden calls them "now the most pleasant and frequent entertainments of the Stage."(16) However, their popularity faded after their successes in the seventeenth century, and Beaumont and Fletcher have been in nearly total oblivion for centuries. Generations of critics would probably agree with T. S. Eliot's assessment: "The blossoms of Beaumont and Fletcher's imagination draw no substance from the soil, but are cut and slightly withered flowers stuck into sand."(17) In response to Eliot and to those generations of critics, I contend that it is unfair to condemn Beaumont and Fletcher when few people have experienced--seen and heard, not seen or read--a complete play.(18)
The deeply determinative role of music in Beaumont and Fletcher's plays has not been recognized by critics, nor has Robert Johnson been singled out as a contributor. Very few editors include music in their editions of the plays--even though original music survives for several of the songs. Andrew Gurr, an editor who includes more music than most, confides that he had to battle for printing even a relatively few lines in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle.(19) As in Gurr's edition, occasionally a bit of music gets tacked into an appendix.(20) However, an appendix is for extraneous material, and original music is far from extraneous in Beaumont and Fletcher's plays. After a rather inauspicious beginning when George Cowling wrote, "Most of the songs in Beaumont and Fletcher are simply sops flung to popular taste,"(21) scholars--primarily musicologists, not literary interpreters have bit by bit been digging up the actual music, thereby assembling a wealth of primary material.(22) Musicologist Ian Spink gives the songs' meanings more emphasis than most, and contends, in a general way, that Robert Johnson's songs--for plays by other playwrights as well--were intended "to have an effect on a specific dramatic situation."(23) What Beaumont-Fletcher studies lack is a close reading of the music in conjunction with a close reading of the dramatic text.(24)
The dramatic importance of music in Beaumont and Fletcher begins to emerge when we note that frequently words alone do not effect lasting change or create binding agreements in the dramas. In Love's Pilgrimage Leocadia believes she has a firm contract with Mark-Antonio (V.iv), but it turns out that she does not, and in Love's Cure Eugenia, Clara, and Genevora are not able to stop the duel between Vitelli and Don Alvarez without reinforcing their argument with weapons (V.iii). Similarly, Florez in Beggar's Bush is unable to persuade Gerrard to let him marry Bertha--even when he reflexively uses words to describe his beloved's speech: "And but to heare her speak, a Paradise" (IV.vi.82)--and Bellario in Philaster is unable with his words alone to secure a permanent position as Philaster's servant (II.i.29-39). Cloe in The Faithful Shepherdess unsuccessfully tries to procure a lover with words before she resorts to a song.
But the power of music registers far above that of words. Characters praise the musicality of their beloveds' voices. Bellario admits that she fell in love with Philaster when she heard him speak, "Farre above singing" (Philaster, V.v.167). Bellario's sentiment forms an interesting contrast with that of Shakespeare's Desdemona, who falls in love with Othello for the content of his speech, not its musical quality. In Love's Cure music must substitute for words; Eugenia, feeling her words inadequate to welcome her husband after his long absence, calls for music:
... Let choice Musick In the best voyce that ere touch'd humane eare, For joy hath tide my tongue up, speak your welcome. (I.iii.40-42)
An understanding of the basic Renaissance context (both the ideology of music in Renaissance England, and some of the techniques used to enact that ideology) for the "choice Musick" helps us to comprehend the relevance of Johnson's songs, and to validate the extreme effect Lelia's song had on its audience. An appropriate authority for ideological conceptions is Marsilio Ficino, who, writing in the late 1400s, made Plato's works--together with his own Neoplatonic commentary--widely available in Latin translations for a Renaissance European readership. According to Ficino, music physically moves the spirit or soul, an effect made possible by a kind of physical transference because music and the soul consist of the same material: air, or vapor. Ficino says, "Musical sound, more than anything else perceived by the senses, conveys, as if animated, the emotions and thoughts of the singer's or player's soul to the listeners' souls: thus it preeminently corresponds with the soul.... By emotion it affects the senses and at the same time the soul: by meaning it works on the mind: finally, by the very movement of the subtle air it penetrates strongly."(25) Ficino, drawing on ideas of Plato and Boethius,(26) represents music as literally pulling the soul into the ear, where music mingles with it, bringing it into consonance with the sentiment that the music expresses.
Ficino's ideas permeated Renaissance England, as is evident from their traces in many sources.(27) Among these, Baldessare Castiglione, whose Il Cortigiano was translated relatively early into English, and the author of The Praise of Musicke both assimilate Ficino to assert a close relationship between the human soul and music.(28) Castiglione declares, "the world is made of musick, and the heavens in their moving make a melody, and our soule is framed after the very same sort, and therefore lifteth up it self and ... reviveth the vertues and force of it with musick" (89). The author of The Praise of Musicke writes that "music hath a certain divine influence into the soules of men, whereby our cogitations and thoughts ... are brought into a celestiall acknowledging of their natures"; further, the soul is "nothing else, but a Musical motion" and is thus able to "most wonderfullie allure, & as it were ravish our senses and cogitations" (40-41).
Renaissance songs are acknowledged to be a particularly potent form of music because, when words are added to music, a song is able to move both the wit (mind, reason) and the will (passions, emotions). The words move the wit, while the music moves the will. Renaissance composer William Byrd speaks for many of his era: "There is not any Musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of Men."(29) Similarly, James Howell tells the Lady M. A. in a letter in 1637 that her song "so enchanted me then that my soul was ready to com[e] out at my ears, so your voice took such impressions in me, that methinks the sound still remains fresh with [me]."(30) George Chapman powerfully expresses the potency of song in Ovid's Banquet of Sense when Julia is first experienced, through hearing her voice as she plays her lute:(31)
Sweete tunes, brave issue, that from Julia come; Shooke from her braine, armd like the Queene of Ire; For first conceived in her mentall wombe, And nourisht with her soules discursive fire, They grew into the power of her thought; She gave them dounye plumes from her attire, And them to strong imagination brought; That, to her voice; wherein most movinglye Shee (blessing them with kisses) letts them flye.
The song's notes and words move the auditor so profoundly that he says, when "My life then turn'd to that, t'each note, and word" ([B4.sup.v]),"Methinks they rayse me from the heavy ground/And move me swimming in the yeelding ayre" ([C1.sup.r]). Beaumont and Fletcher are aware of the power of music to destabilize the soul to the point of dulling judgment, as shown in Franck's words to Clora in Beaumont and Fletcher's The Captain: "These are your eyes;/ Where were they Clora, when you fell in love/ With the old foot-man, for singing of Queen Dido?" (III.iii.31-33).
The specific songs by Johnson featured in this paper are English solo ayres, or lute songs. This form flourished for about thirty years, from approximately 1595 to 1625. Critics frequently give a beginning bench mark of 1597, when the publication of John Dowland's First Book of Songes or Ayres seems to have furthered the popularity of the form. Similarly, 1622 is often cited as an ending bench mark, with the publication of John Attley's First Book of Ayres, the last book of solo songs to be published in England for thirty years.(32)
In contrast to the English madrigal, which also flourished at roughly the same time and shared many characteristics, the solo ayre is dominated by one melodic line; any other lines are generally subsidiary accompaniment. Intelligibility of the words' meaning is crucial.(33) Elise Jorgens notes that for many musical humanists, there was "an insistence that the words of the text be fully intelligible; to many, it involved a more direct relationship between the singer and the text."(34) Declamatory songs share characteristics associated with monody, a style emerging from the Florentine Camerata that emphasizes dramatic meaning.(35)
Text painting, including both harmony and melody (as well as rhythm and texture) is used by Renaissance composers to create that relationship between singer and text, here with a focus on the solo ayre, although it was also used in madrigals. Text painting begins at the level of expressing or "painting" particular words in music that would express them, sometimes imitatively (such as accompanying the word "down" with a descending passage). This technique is frequently expanded to express not only words, but phrases, sentences, and overall meaning of a song. Above all, in the solo ayre, text comes first, followed by music to enhance the text. Thomas Morley, for example, in his A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music (1597) says that "you must have a care that when your manner signifieth `ascending,'`high,'`heaven,' and such like you make your music ascend; and by the contrary where your ditty speaketh of `descending,' `lowness,'`depth,'`hell' and others such you must make your music descend" (291).
Harmony can be used to "paint" a text, by enhancing the meaning of sections as small as a word or as large as an entire piece. The system of harmony in use through much of the Renaissance in England is the system of modes.(36) In approximately 1600, we begin to see the emergence of the diatonic system of major and minor keys that we know today. Around 1610, when the songs that we are here examining were being written, the harmonic system was very much in flux. It is not accurate to speak either of modes or of functional diatonic harmony(37) at this time. Instead, we have, in the solo ayres, tonal focus in short sections that function diatonically but that do not fit into an overriding hierarchical system. Only later do these blocks of tonal focus develop into a long-range system of diatonic harmony.
The remainder of this paper is direct application of the concepts in the preceding account. First, there is an in-depth analysis of the song "Care charminge sleepe" in Fletcher's Valentinian, and then an analysis of "Tell me, (deerest) what is love?" in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
"Care charminge sleepe" from Fletcher's Valentinian
We immediately see current musical associations at work in "Care charminge sleepe" from Fletcher's Valentinian (performed c. 1611). Two distraught courtiers call for a lullaby to soothe the ailing emperor:
LYCINIUS. The soft Musick; And let one sing to fasten sleep upon him: Oh friends, the Emperor. PROCULUS. What say the Doctors? LYCINIUS. For us a most sad saying, he is poysond, Beyond all cure too. (V.ii.4-8)
Music, with its perceived medicinal ability to cure both body and soul, is a logical treatment. In addition to his physical malady, however, Valentinian is a discordant tyrant who is out of tune with society. He is presented throughout the play as unequivocally evil and dishonorable, both a murderer and a rapist. In his victim Lucina's words, he is a "Monster, Ravisher" (III.i.35), the "bitter bane o'th Empire" (III.i.36). Even Aecius, his general--whom Valentinian later murders for sharing others' negative views of him--condemns him: "I have seene enough to stagger my obedience:/ Hold me ye equall Gods, this is too sinfull" (III.i. 180-81). An assessment of Valentinian's character is further advanced by comparing his death scene to those of Aecius and Aretus (Aecius' servant). The dying Aecius says "There is no paine at all in dying well,/Nor none are lost, but those that make their hell" (IV.iv.267-68). Aretus' last words are, "I have my peace" (V.ii.110). In contrast to these noble deaths, the dying Valentinian cries, "Oh save me" (V.ii.135) and "Take this destruction from me" (V.ii.137). His ignoble ending comes in these words: "My braines are ashes, now my heart, my eye friends;/I go, I goe, more aire, more aire; I am mortall" (V.ii.139-40).
The song "Care charminge sleepe" when read as a poem, appears genuinely to offer solace, as would be appropriate for a man of Valentinian's outward stature:(38)
Care charminge sleepe, ye easer of all woes brother of Death, sweetly yie selfe disclose on this afflicted wight fall Like a cloud in gentle showres give nothing yt is Loud or painfull to his slumbers but easy sweet & as a purling streame yu sonne of night passe by his troubled senses sing his paine Like hollowing murmuring winds or silver raine into thy selfe gently 6 gently 6 gently slide & kisse him into slumbers Like a Bride (V.ii.13-22)
The meter and rhythm of the poem appear to be aimed at restoring Valentinian's physical harmony. The poem is regular.(39) but not sing-song iambic pentameter couplets. The instances of rhythmic irregularity draw attention to soothing words, such as "Care charminge" (1.13) and the first occurrence of "gently" (1.21). The entire poem is "easy sweet/ & as a purling streame" (11.17-18). The imagery is similarly soothing. Sleep is briefly associated with death a common Renaissance trope(40)--but more pervasively with such positive imagery as a cloud, a purling stream, murmuring winds, silver rain, and a kiss. The phrase "sing his paine" (1.19), introduces the notion that sleep will sing the pain away, in a manner similar to that of cleansing winds or rain. Editors of Beaumont and Fletcher consistently present "Care charminge sleepe" in their editions only as a poem (whether or not it is labeled "song"), when it is in fact a declamatory song, whose music is intended to emphasize its meaning.
The physical phenomenon of "Care charminge sleepe" as a song, one Spink calls "perhaps the best example" of Johnson's "expressive use of the early declamatory style," determines its meaning and its contribution to Valentinian.(41) Even though Valentinian is evil, we would expect a formal inducement for putting him to sleep to be smoothly melodic and to have balanced phrases, resolved harmonies, and slowly changing tonalities. It would have beautiful imagery connoting peaceful rest, and text painting fashioned to soothe the emperor and lament his obvious discomfort. Such a meaning could well be derived from the song's words alone. Bowden calls it "a therapeutic lullaby for Valentinian, dying of poison" and refers to "the peace of the song"(42) However, the music, under careful scrutiny, reveals criticism of the ruler. Whereas the political climate at the time Valentinian was written served to temper overt verbal criticism of rulers, music eludes censorship by its very ephemeral nature. When the audience carefully listens to "Care charminge sleepe," the music reveals a meaning other than that expected for a lyric song for a sick person, one at odds with the words. The song does not have a balanced, fluid melody, but is jarring, and contains a series of unresolved phrases, images of death, and text painting carefully calculated to increase and celebrate the emperor's discomfort. This is no sweet ayre. Appropriate for a man like Valentinian, this is a song about death, one with D minor tonal coloring that registers more as a funereal curse than as a gentle soporific. The transcription below represents, I believe, the closest representation we have of Johnson's melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic intentions (Example 2).(43)
[Example 2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
Pejorative meaning emerges with the opening phrase, "Care charminge sleepe, ye easer of all woes" (bars 1-3), which begins with a static melody, on the repeated note of A (bar 1), with an ambitus of a minor third. "Care" (bar 1), "sleepe" (bar 2) and "woes" (bar 3) are all on the same pitch of A. The minor coloration gives the work's dotted rhythm the somber connotation of a funeral dirge. It is almost as though the footfalls of death pervade the piece.
Instead of the expected smooth, balanced phrases, we get a series of disjunctive sections juxtaposed. For example, the second phrase, "brother of Death sweetly yie selfe disclose" (bars 3-5) begins on the leading tone (C#) with the word "brother" driving the listener forward toward "death." Later in the song, another phrase ends on a dominant coloration ("yu sonne of night" bar 13) and then abruptly shifts to a major tonality. Throughout the piece, where we would expect harmonic resolution--an ideal way to put someone to sleep--we get repeated lack of harmonic resolution, better suited to keep someone uneasily awake, in the same annoyingly incessant fashion as, for example, dripping water.
The music promotes death, not sleep, as its dominant image. "Death" is emphasized not only by being preceded, as we have seen, by a leading tone, but also by being on a long note and on the highest tone so far. The word "yie selfe" (bars 4-5) falls on a dissonance--inappropriate for sleep, but not for death. Sleep and death are, according to mythology, two of the sons of night. Whereas sleep as "brother of death" is clearly signified in bar 4, either sleep or death genealogically qualifies as "sonne of night" (bar 13), with the latter word falling uneasily on the leading tone of C#--and then not resolving to d minor, but instead, with chromatic inflection, sliding to D Major. Musical emphasis supports a shift to "death" as the topic.(44)
Although the imagery of the poem alone--primarily of water--seems to conform to the expectations of a lullaby, the music reveals darker meanings. Valentinian was poisoned by liquid; Aretus, who poisoned him, "gave him drink last" (V.ii.10). Since the veiled subject matter of the song is death, the song's water imagery is covertly optimistic about the working of Valentinian's poison, not hopeful that sleep will wash away his pain. Two of the three depictions of water ("gentle showres" in bar 8 and "silver raine" in bar 17) are shaded with the relative major harmonic coloration. All three (including "purling streame" in bar 13) have a descending melody, suggesting falling water. In the third phrase, the "silver raine" starts high in the melody but it assumes an earthly quality as the bass line, after a jump up of a sixth, descends.
This depiction of water is an example of text painting. We would expect the text painting in a bedside song for a dying emperor to be used to soothe and praise him. Exactly the opposite is true: it is used to discomfit and deprecate him. For example, in the phrase "give nothing that is Loud or painfull to his slumbers" (bars 9-11), the melodic design changes to include jarring jumps both up and down and brief dissonance, thereby serving to increase Valentinian's pain. Valentinian is not shown respect, but ridicule with the phrase "on this afflicted wight fall Like a cloud" (bars 6-8). In the poem, one might skip over the juxtaposition of "wight" (bar 7) (meaning Valentinian) and "fall" (bar 7). This cannot be done, however, listening to the musical setting. The melody drops a fifth to the lowest note in the treble line on the word "fall," emphasized by an immediately preceding drop in the bass line, as well as its overall descending movement. This movement connotes both the rapid onset of death by poison as well as Valentinian's fallen state. The harmonic coloration is peculiarly major here.
Text painting with major harmonies is used subversively not just with water imagery, but throughout the song to celebrate Valentinian's pain. For example, in the phrase "pass by his troubled senses sing his paine Like" (bars 14-16), the words "his troubled senses" (bars 14-15) are clearly set to major tonality, indicating an undisguised acceptance of the fact that the emperor's mind is fermenting in poison. More blatantly, the phrase "sing his pain Like" (bars 15-16) is not only set to an ascending scale; it is also in major tonal focus, registering more like a victory cry at the emperor's impending death than a musical condolence. (This connotation is in direct contrast to the poetic reading, that the pain would be sung away.) The phrase is further emphasized by a slowing of the rhythm, and subsequent depiction of "hollow murmuring winds" (bar 17) with melody and rhythm aurally describing the subject. The plagal cadence on the falling "silver rain" (bar 17) adds yet more emphasis. The words "o gently o gently" (bar 20) are set to broken chords, belying any gentleness, particularly since there is a leap of a tenth between the two phrases.
The song's musical conclusion erases any possible lingering ambiguity, and brings together the themes of death and the positive attitude toward that event. Valentinian is to be kissed "into slumbers Like a bride" (bars 21-22). "Like" (bar 22) is approached by a leap of a minor sixth, connoting affective sorrow.(45) "Care charminge sleepe" concludes with a tonic chord--probably in D major tonality, if the accompanist adds a picardy third for an appropriately triumphant major conclusion. With or without concluding major tonality, Valentinian's kiss is not the kiss of matrimony but the kiss of death. It resonates with Jacobean vengefulness such as that found in The Revenger's Tragedy in which the Duke is poisoned by kissing the skull of a virtuous woman whom he murdered because she shunned him. The bride's kiss here may also allude to Valentinian's kiss for Lucina, which sent her to her death, just as the music is sending Valentinian to his.
In its dramatic context "Care charminge sleepe" contributes important emotional information to its scene about the status of the emperor as well as the desirability of his death, information entirely lost without the music's total reversal of the words' apparent meaning.(46) This song expresses the true estimate that most of the other characters in Valentinian hold of the emperor, but one that is not otherwise safe to voice; subtly and subversively the song raises the emotional pitch by tormenting, not easing, the wicked emperor as he dies. For a playwright like Fletcher, who is notable for contributing emotional high points in his plays, such an effect is an important goal.
"Tell me (deerest) what is love?" from Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle
"Tell me (deerest) what is love? is sung in Act three, which opens on Jasper and Luce, lovers who have run away together to the forest. They need to rest, yet because Luce is unable to sleep, Jasper suggests a song, to "try how that will worke upon our sences" (In.25). He also invites her to "rob me of my heart/ With that inchanting voyce" (III.27-28). Both Jasper and the theater audience might hold the conventional expectation that the music would influence both lovers by mingling with their souls and causing them to fall more deeply in love. This does not happen, however. Instead, Luce seems unaffected and falls asleep, while Jasper become enraged and attempts to stab her. The conspicuous confusion shown throughout The Knight of the Burning Pestle regarding playacting applies to Jasper and Luce's song: the couple begin singing their song both as lovers and as musicians, but before the song is over--and certainly when Jasper pulls out his sword--the roles become thoroughly run together. Jasper seems to believe the words of the song. Jasper's transformation from devoted lover to enraged doubter is traceable through a close examination of the full song (III.29-42), words and music (Example 3).
[Example 3 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
A detailed look at the music reveals that it is, in literary terms,(47) a parody of a love song,(48) as well as a debate about women in the context of the ongoing controversy at the time? In both rhetorical and musical structure, the piece divides into three sections. The first section, bars 1-3, consists of Jasper's questions: "Tell me (deerest) what is love?" in the first verse, and "Tell me more, are women true?" in the second. This section has g minor tonal coloration. The lengthy middle section, bars 4-11, consists of Luce's answer in the first verse, and additional questions and answers in the second. The musical texture is lighter than that of the first section, with the dotted rhythms alternating between soprano and bass lines. The tonal color is predominantly B[flat] Major, with measures of g minor tonal focus near the beginning and at the end of the section. On first hearing, this section might be characterized as pretty and light. The song concludes with a weighty two-bar section with an overall tonal focus of g minor.
While this overall formal structure is appropriate to a love song, the details produce the parody. In the first verse these details include verbal rhetoric, rhythm, harmony, and melody. The text painting occurs almost exclusively at the level of the phrase, not the word, with an emphasis on expressing mood and overall meaning, thus allowing the technique to suit more than one verse in a broad fashion.
The song's harmonic shading plays a major role in unsettling Jasper. In general terms, in the first verse, his initial question is in g minor coloration (bars 1-3). Luce's answer, however, depicting uncontrollable lust (bars 3-11) is in primarily B[flat] Major tonal focus (with some artful shading of g minor). Jasper's final distressed lament again has minor tonal focus. The details substantiate this analysis. For example, while it is effective for the first question (bars 1-3) to remain harmonically unresolved by retaining the coloring of the dominant sound (d minor), not the tonic, the answer, rhythmically and melodically similar, might be expected to conclude in the tonic. Luce's first answer (bars 4-5), however, is far from conclusive, as is shown when it ends harmonically with unresolved dominant g minor coloring, of d minor. The answer, "Tis a lightning" in bar 4 (unresolved both rhetorically and musically) is highlighted by beginning in the dominant of the relative major of B [flat] tonality (F Major) and by giving a clear and stark depiction of lightning. As the melody slides down (bar 5), depicting lightning falling from the sky, the harmony also falls from major to minor.
The middle portion of Luce's answer, bars 6-9, is entirely cheerful--or brazen, in terms of its context of a woman's celebration of' sexual desire. The lilting dotted-quarter-and-eighth-note rhythm alternates between the bass and treble lines, conceivably mirroring a light, flirtatious relationship, answering back and forth, between the two lovers. Infused throughout with B[flat] Major coloration, Luce's answer concludes here with a dominant-to-tonic (F to B[flat] in B[flat]) resolution (bar 9), the first authentic cadence. The piece's light cheerfulness is only a veneer, however, because the seemingly satisfying harmonic resolution occurs on Luce's word "desire" (bar 9). In Renaissance drama, women's desires are often an object of intense fear for men. For example, Othello says, "O curse of marriage,/ That we can call these delicate creatures ours,/And not their appetites!" (III.iii.284-86).(50) It is as risky for Luce to linger over expressing her woman's desire as it is for Desdemona consistently to promote Cassio's virtues to her jealous husband. Yet the consequences of doing so are not automatically tragic. While in both plays the unfortunate statements lead to violence, the end result in the burlesque of The Knight of the Burning Pestle is not tragedy, but literary parody. Overall, the middle portion of Luce's answer might be compared to a seemingly innocent game begun in a spirit of light-hearted playfulness, only to turn sinister; the sinister turn helps to explain much of what happens in the scene. One could imagine a stage direction for Jasper's eyes to open wider and wider during the song in disbelief and anger as Luce's eyes drowsily close. Contrary to proper behavior for a young woman, Luce becomes less guarded in her statements as her rational control is overcome by her exhaustion.
Jasper's outrage is sealed by the last bars of Luce's answer. Musically, this portion (bars 10-13) begins as cheerfully as the previous one ended. The playful, imitative bass-to-treble dotted rhythm continues in bar 10, as does the B[flat] Major harmonic coloration, with Luce's continued answer that love "'Tis a smile." In the very next measure, however, the happy playfulness is shattered by Luce's sleepy yet brash qualification that the smile "Doth beguile" (bar 11). The melody leaps up a minor sixth, to the tonic in g minor tonality, while the rhythm appreciably slows in the bass line. The rhythmic sequence (starting on "'Tis a smile" in bar 10) shifts from treble, to the bass, and back to the treble line. The second triad of the section, in the second half of bar 10, is the pivotal E[flat], which is the subdominant in B[flat] Major, but submediant in g minor (as was the case with the second half of bar 6)--another play between major and minor tonalities. We are beguiled into believing that the smile was a happy, innocent one. The evocation of the beguiling smile so enrages Jasper that he interrupts Luce (on the very same note of D) and substitutes his voice for hers. While his continuation of her musical phrase illustrates that he has taken her place (presumably because she inappropriately mentioned women as having desire(51)), his words in bars 12-13, identifying the object of the beguiling as "The poore hearts of men that prove" (i.e., men experience the falsity of women), illustrate his agitated emotional state, emphasized by the rhythmic acceleration. Such emotional drama as Jasper's, together with much of the irony of the piece, will not register unless one actually hears the music of the song. Both the emotional drama and the irony are, to a large extent, produced through the relationship between the words and the music.
While the first verse is a debate about love, Luce's answers are so upsetting to Jasper that in the second verse he changes the subject from love to women. Thus, the second verse, still a parody of a love song, enacts a debate about women (within the overall context of a burlesque). The debates raging during the Elizabethan and Jacobean age were an object of interest to Beaumont and Fletcher, as evidenced by their two plays, The Captain and The Woman Hater (c.1606), that have as their central figure a misogynist who is a literary manifestation of the opposition in these debates.(52) Luce, by declaring in the first verse that a woman has desire and can be false, has unwittingly triggered the change in topic, while her conclusion is the last retort in their stanza-long debate. As in the first verse, in the second verse Jasper again begins by soberly posing a question--"are women true?" (bars 1-3). From the debates about women, we might expect Luce to answer that women are indeed true, and perhaps to cite some examples of virtuous historical or mythological heroines. However, as evidence of continuing parody, Luce, off her guard because of her tiredness, answers that some women are not true (bar 4) and then goes on to attack not just some men, but Jasper in particular (bar 5). The attack is emphasized by its harmonically unresolved ending (with dominant, not tonic, coloration). The rhetorical and musical pattern becomes more intense. Jasper asks, three times in various forms, if women are virtuous, and Luce consistently answers that they are not, following up each time with attacks on men's constancy.
Just as the phrase "Doth beguile" that prompted Jasper to interrupt Luce's melody in the first verse had received harmonic and melodic emphasis, so Luce's statement in the second verse that women are in fact initiators of sexual activity, "Ever toward" (bar 11), receives similar emphasis. Musical harmony highlights Luce's having the last word. While the first verse ends with Jasper's reference to "men that prove" emphasized by a harmonic coloring of resolution in the tonic g minor tonality, Luce sings the final phrase of the second and final verse with the same harmonic resolution. Jasper declares that men can prove--that is, stand up to testing--but Luce counters that men are false, and "love, to love a new" (bars 12-13). These respective masculine and feminine statements of strong conviction are underscored by their musical convergence with the first and only instance of harmonic resolution in the song's primary tonal coloration of g minor.
The resolution works on Luce alone, not Jasper. As the song ends, Luce, having had the last word, peacefully nods asleep, innocently saying that her eyelids are heavy (1.45). Jasper tells her (conceivably with quiet rage), "Dissemble it no more" (1.43). It now seems probable that Jasper will take some action against Luce. Her disturbing musical resolution, coupled with her rhetorical attack on men for being untrue (bar 13), is followed by Jasper's physical attack. First, however, in a twenty-seven-line spoken monologue, Jasper rehearses the line of association that the song appears to have triggered within him. He states that Luce is "onely faire, and constant" (1.54); next, that both the sea and women are "full of changes" (1.61); and finally, fully doubting Luce, he decides to take action against her, saying "I'll try her, that the world and memory/May sing to after times, her constancie" (III.72-73). The song's promoting of sexuality for women, accentuated by its textual painting, is an important dramatized reason for Jasper to consider wounding Luce.
The association between women's singing and female sexuality further helps us to understand Jasper's reaction to Luce's song;(53) music often marks women as lascivious. What we have here is the duality of music. Luce responds to the harmonious nature of music--harmony of the spheres, calming of beasts, etc.--and falls asleep. Jasper, however, responds to the particular music--a woman singing--and responds by believing Luce to be unchaste. The harmony and melody of the music, as well as the text, reinforce Jasper's interpretation.
Literary critics may have missed this point because (a) they were not as familiar with the Renaissance traditions of music and women as they were with literature, and (b) because they probably did not hear the music, so could not respond to the harmony and melody of the particular song. For example, Laurie Osborne notes, "Jasper's violence in this scene seems inexplicable, given Luce's constancy,"(54) yet finds some answers in Luce's relative independence of spirit. Perhaps so, but much more important to an explanation, I contend, is the song, one whose words and music push Jasper past reason into unreasonable, erroneous action.
An understanding of this song will illuminate a scene that has been a conundrum for critics; Glenn A. Steinberg, for example, calls it "perhaps the most troubling in the play."(55) Critics have either ignored the musical solution or failed to appreciate its parodic and finally ironic character. Finkelpearl presents a lengthy, careful analysis of Jasper's monologue, but does not mention the duet that precedes(56) and, as I have just argued, serves to motivate it. Both Bowden and Austern treat "Tell me (deerest) what is love?" as a straightforward love song. Bowden calls it "A love duet by Jasper and Luce, probably used to compress the dramatic statement of their love for each other" and Austern writes, "This sweet song not only allows Luce to sleep at last, but reinforces the true love and devotion between herself and Jasper in terms of the literal harmony of a dialogue song."(57) Three recent editors of The Knight of the Burning Pestle--Doebler, Gurr, and Zitner--include its music in an appendix. Doebler, however, is silent on what, if anything, the music adds to the play, while Gurr and Zitner comment briefly on the song's dramatic function, saying, respectively, that it crystallizes "the sentiment of the occasion" and is "inserted awkwardly into the action."(58) In extended and detailed contrast, we have seen that the scene makes sense because the music and words of the song are its pivotal dramatic components.
Paradoxically, because the dramatically self-reflexive (drawing attention to themselves as dramas(59)) plays are so very artificial, particularly The Knight of the Burning Pestle, music, an art form that encompasses several arts and sciences, frequently functions in Beaumont and Fletcher's melodramatic contexts as an element of realism. While the characters might not be convincing or consistent throughout all the acts of a play, the music on stage is actual music that frequently represents itself. For example, a flourish for a pretend king on the stage is a real flourish, using the same instruments and music that would be used at court. Similarly, a solo lute ayre on stage is not a represented ayre, but the actual song itself.(60)
In all three of the songs by Johnson just examined we have seen double meanings that are very specific to the plays in which they occur. This situation illustrates the seminal importance of Johnson's songs, and is equally true for the other surviving original song in The Captain, Johnson's "Come hither you that love, and heare me sing."(61) I suspect, but frankly, am not yet sure, that this is the case for the other Johnson songs in the plays of Fletcher.(62) Johnson's extant probable original song in Shakespeare's The Tempest, "Full fathome five" also has a plot-specific double meaning. Whereas the song is ostensibly a funeral dirge for Ferdinand's dead father, Alonzo, we know that Alonzo is alive. The music(63) points to the true meaning of the words, that Alonzo is being alchemically transformed into something wonderful.(64) As such, the song prepares Ferdinand not to attend a funeral, but to quickly fall in love with Miranda. Beyond Johnson's role, this paper points to several additional topics related to music in Renaissance drama, including, but not limited to, the impact of songs by other composers on the Beaumont/ Fletcher plays, and any possible differences between Beaumont and Fletcher regarding music.(65)
In conclusion, as a regular practice, critics need to consider how songs function in plays, particularly when original music is available. The potency of music in drama seems to have been well recognized by Beaumont and Fletcher. Moreover, since Robert Johnson wrote all of the known extant original music, it may be time to consider the Beaumont-Fletcher plays as the Beaumont-Fletcher-Johnson plays of collaboration. In the process of doing so, we may want to treat Johnson's songs as William Byrd wanted his to be received: "Onely this I desire; that you will be but as carefull to heare them well expressed, as I have been ... in the Composing ... of them."(66)
(1) D. P. Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella (London: Warburg Institute of the University of London, 1958), 9. Walker translates and quotes from Ficino's Commentarius in Timaeus, chapter xxviii in Opera Omnia (Basel, 1576), 496.
(2) Respectively, this music is "Come hither you that love" from The Captain, "Away delights, goe seeke some other dwelling" from The Captain, and "Up Tails All" from The Coxcomb.
(3) For example, Ian Spink, in his edition of Robert Johnson's Ayres, Songs, and Dialogues (London: Stainer and Bell, 1961) notes various of Johnson's songs as being from plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, as does John Cutts, in La Musique De Scene de la Troupe De Shakespeare, 2nd ed. (Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1959). However, both of these musicologists are almost entirely uninterested in the plays per se. While musicologists note that these songs, which happen to be in plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, are by Johnson, and drama editors note that there are songs in the plays without identifying the composers or noting the songs' significance, no one, to my knowledge, has thoroughly put these two types of information together.
(4) I wish to thank David Bevington, Janel Mueller, and Cathy Elias for review of an earlier draft of this material, Jean Jepson for assistance with type-setting the music, and John Jiambalvo and William Witwer for review of the final article.
(5) See Cyrus Hoy, "The Shares of Fletcher and his Collaborators in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon" Studies in Bibliography 8 (1956): 129-46; 9 (1957): 143-62; 11 (1958): 55-106; 12 (1959): 91-116; 13 (1960): 77-108; 14 (1961): 45-67; and 15 (1962): 71-90. Jeffrey Masten questions Hoy in "Beaumont and/or Fletcher: Collaboration and the Interpretation of Renaissance Drama," English Literary History 59 (1992): 337-56.
(6) Throughout this paper I cite from Fredson Bowers, General Editor, The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon, 9 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966-94). As a general policy, I have used old-spelling editions wherever possible. I have, however, normalized "i" and "j" and "u" and "v." In the transcriptions of songs, I have normalized superscript letters and have silently supplied the missing letters indicated by tildes.
(7) She doesn't actually sing, but has a servant sing on her behalf.
(8) I have transcribed this song and all others in this paper from what I believe are the best early manuscripts, as noted in the caption. All of the manuscripts used for transcriptions in this paper, as well as almost all of the other early versions of the songs, are available in Elise Bickford Jorgens, ed., English Song 1600-1675: Facsimiles of Twenty-six Manuscripts and a n Edition of the Texts, 12 vols. (New York: Garland, 1986-89).
Writing for an interdisciplinary audience presents particular challenges, and I wish for my editorial hand to be transparent to all. In Renaissance music, accidentals are not infrequently omitted--either with the assumption that the performer will know where and how to add them in, or due to error. I have added in those accidentals, above the staff for the treble line, and below it for the bass. I have followed modern practice of noting an accidental for the first time only that it occurs in a measure. On one occasion (in Example 3) I have changed a note in the manuscript. The new note is in brackets, and an explanation follows in the caption.
For all three songs in this paper only the treble and bass lines are given in the original manuscripts--or other very early ones. (Performers would have automatically added the harmony, along with ornamentation of the melody.) However, many of my comments are based on assumptions about harmony. I have attempted to make these assumptions transparent. When chords adhere to traditional realizations and are in root positions--the case for most of the harmony in these songs--I have not written out the spelling. When, however, I base my analysis on either an accidental in the harmony or on a first or second inversion of a chord, I have indicated that information below the staff in brackets. I have attempted to follow traditional Renaissance composition practice in terms of what would have been normal spellings of chords.
(9) New York Public Library, MS. Drexel 4257, No. 109 ("John Gamble's Commonplace Book") is the only available early source for this song. It names Robert Johnson as the composer, an attribution that is widely accepted. Vincent Duckies describes this book in "John Gamble's Commonplace Book: A Critical Edition of NYPL MS. Drexel 4257," (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1963). Editions include Cutts, La Musique, 28 and Spink, Robert Johnson, Ayres, 28.
The words are from the 1647 folio (F1), in the Bowers edition, where The Captain is edited by L.A. Beauline. I have chosen these words because they are in the best text available within the context of the play. Moreover, they fit the music fully as well as the slightly different words in Gamble. There are some differences, noted as follows, with the word as it appears in F1 followed by the word as it appears in Gamble: Verse 1: bar 2, delights: delight; bar 5, must: will; bar 7, love: hope; and bar 14, go: stay. Verse 2: bar 9, over-grow: overflow; bar 12, sleep: rest; bar 12, while: whilste; and bar 19 clay: day.
(10) See Thomas Morley, A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music (London, 1597), ed. Alec Harman (New York: Norton, 1973), 290, for the connection between effeminacy, sorrow, and chromaticism. See Charles Butler, The Principles of Musik in Singing and Setting: With the two-fold Use thereof, Ecclesiasticall and Civil (London: John Haviland, 1636), rpt., intro. Gilbert Reaney (New York: Da Capo Press, 1970), 4, for the association between chromaticism and wantonness.
(11) Angilo, trying ardently to change Julio's mind because he himself has fallen under Lelia's magic spell, tells Julio, "Fly her as I do, Julio, she's a witch" (III.iv. 194). Julio finally answers, "I am uncharm'd,/Farewell thou cursed house" (III.iv. 197-98).
(12) This analysis has benefitted appreciably from comments made by participants of the University of Chicago Renaissance Workshop, 7 November 1994. Participants helped me stage this scene, complete with the music, which we then discussed.
(13) For a contrasting view, see Rochelle Smith, "Admirable Musicians: Women's Songs in Othello and The Maid's Tragedy," Comparative Drama 28:3 (Fall, 1994): 311-23, who argues that Desdemona's singing plays into Othello's view of her as unfaithful.
(14) David Lumsden, Ian Spink, and Peter Holman, "Johnson, Robert (ii)," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980), 9:681; and Ian Spink, English Song Dowland to Purcell (London: B. T. Batsford, 1974), 55.
(15) An explanation of text painting follows.
(16) John Dryden, An Essay of Dramatik Poesie, in The Works of John Dryden, 17, "Prose 1668-1691" ed. Samuel Holt Monk (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 57.
(17) T. S. Eliot, "Ben Jonson," in Selected Essays, 1917-32 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1932), 135.
(18) Edwin S. Lindsey says, "Historians of the drama have been slow to see that, if they wish to enter into the real spirit of the Elizabethan play, they must hear with the ears of the man in the pit, not with the eyes of the scholar in his study," in "The Original Music for Beaumont's Play The Knight of the Burning Pestle," Studies in Philology 26 (1929): 426.
(19) Gurr made his statement in a conversation with me in Chicago, 28 November 1994. See Andrew Gurr, ed., Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968).
(20) See editions by Gurr; Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, ed. Sheldon P. Zitner (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1984); and Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, ed. John Doebler (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967).
(21) George H. Cowling, Music on the Shakespearean Stage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913; reprint, London: Russell & Russell, 1964), 93.
(22) For example, A. E. H. Swaen and W. D. Briggs each print one song, and John Doebler prints several along with some commentary about their contexts. See A. E. H. Swaen, "The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Act V, 11. 193-5," Modern Language Review 18 (1923): 338 and William Dinsmore Briggs, "First Song in The Beggars' Bush," Modern Language Notes 39 (1924): 379-80. E. H. Fellowes prints the words to several songs, and the actual music for six of them, along with commentary in his edition of Songs and Lyrics from the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher (London: F. Etchells & H. Macdonald, 1928; reprint, New York: Benjamin Blom, 1972). Lindsey comments on Beaumont and Fletcher's music in "The Music of the Songs in Fletcher's Plays," Studies in Philology 21 (1924): 325-55 and "The Original Music for Beaumont's Play." John P. Cutts presents playable editions of many of the songs in La Musique. Two bibliographic studies further facilitate the study of music in Beaumont and Fletcher, William Bowden's The English Dramatic Lyric, 1603-42 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951) and Vincent Duckles's "The Music for the Lyrics in Early Seventeenth-Century English Drama: A Bibliography of Primary Sources" in Music in English Renaissance Drama, ed. John H. Long (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1968).
(23) Ian Spink, "Robert Johnson and Seventeenth-Century Theatre Music," in his notes to the compact disc, Shakespeare's Lutenist: Theatre Music by Robert Johnson (London: Virgin Classics, 1993), 6.
(24) Relatively recent studies by Linda Phyllis Austern and R. W. Ingram come closest to a comprehensive study of the music, as they examine the function of particular songs in their dramatic contexts. See Linda Austern, "Music in English Children's Drama, 1597-1613" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1984) and Music in English Children's Drama of the Later Renaissance (Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach, 1992) as well as R. W. Ingram, "Patterns of Music and Action in Fletcherian Drama," in Long, Music in English Renaissance Drama. While Austern looks in a more general way at the totality of music in Renaissance children's drama, Ingram focuses exclusively on Beaumont and Fletcher. A study that looks closely at a cognate art, the masque, is Suzanne Gossett's The Influence of the Jacobean Masque on the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher (New York: Garland, 1988).
It is important to note that there have been discussions of the power of music in the drama of other Renaissance writers, particularly Shakespeare. See John H. Long, Shakespeare's Use of Music: A Study of the Music and its Performance in the Original Production of Seven Comedies, 3 vols. (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1955-71); Frederick W. Sternfeld, Music in Shakespearean Tragedy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963); Peter J. Seng, The Vocal Songs in the Plays of Shakespeare: A Critical History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967); Mary Chan, Music in the Theatre of Ben Jonson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980); and Howell Chickering, "Hearing Ariel's Songs," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 24 (1994): 131-172. Chickering's work is particularly important here because it contains close analyses of both music--by Robert Johnson--and texts in The Tempest.
(25) Ficino, trans, by Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic, 496.
(26) See Anna Baldwin and Sarah Hutton, eds., Platonism and the English Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
(27) See Karol Berger, "Prospero's Art," Shakespeare Studies 10 (1977): 211-39. See also Baldwin and Hutton for a detailed description of how Ficino's work spread through English literature.
(28) Baldessare Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier from the Italian of Count Bald[e]ssare Castiglione: Done in to English by Sir Thomas Hoby (London: 156 I; reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1967), 89. Castiglione's book originally appeared in 1528.
The Praise of Musicke: Wherein besides the antiquitie, dignitie, delectation, & use thereof in civill matters, is also declared the sober and lawfull use of the same in the congregation and Church of God (Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1586; reprint, Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1980). This work was long thought to be by John Case. However, recent scholars are questioning this attribution.
(29) William Byrd, Psalmes, Sonets, & Songs of sadness and pietie, made into Musicke of five parts (London: Printed by Thomas East, 1588), in the introduction, "Reasons breifely set downe by th' actor, to perswade every one to learne to sing," [A1.sup.v].
(30) James Howell, "To My Noble Lady, the Lady M. A.," in Epistolae Ho-Elianae: Familiar Letters Domestic and Forren Divided into four Books, Partly Historical, Political, Philosophical, upon Emergent Occasions, 4th ed. (London: Printed for Thomas Guy, 1673), 344.
(31) George Chapman, Ovid's Banquet of Sense (London: I. R. for Richard Smith, 1595; reprint, Yorkshire, England: Scolar Press, 1980), [B4.sup.r].
(32) Bruce Pattison states, "Those [ayres] published between 1597 and 1622 have so many common characteristics of style and technique as to constitute a distinctive type" in Music and Poetry of the English Renaissance (London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1948), 113.
(33) On the solo ayre see Pattison, 113-40; Edward Doughtie, English Renaissance Song (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986), 122-41; Ian Spink, English Song, 15-71; Homer Urlich and Paul Pisk, A History of Music and Musical Style (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963), 190-93; Gerald Abraham, ed., The Age of Humanism: 1540-1630, vol. IV of New Oxford History of Music (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 33-95, 125-217; and Donald Jay Grout, A History of Western Music, rev. ed., (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), 207-51.
(34) Elise Bickford Jorgens, The Well-Tun'd Word: Musical Interpretations of English Poetry, 1597-1651. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), 77.
(35) See Claude V. Palisca, The Florentine Camerata: Documentary Studies and Translations, Music Theory Translation Series (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) for primary documents. There is a possible influence connecting the declamatory style and masques. Opera, an outgrowth of the Camerata's work, was just emerging during the early seventeenth century. This association may be a result of musical interaction between England and Italy. See Leslie Orrey, Opera: A Concise History, rev. Rodney Milnes (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 17 and Spink, English Song, 43.
(36) Harvard Dictionary of Music (2nd. ed., Willi Apel [Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1969]) defines mode as "the selection of tones, arranged in a scale, that form the basic tonal substance of a composition," 535. Up to twelve such arrangements, precursors to major and minor keys, were in operation during the early sixteenth century. During the seventeenth century composers used both modes and the system of major and minor keys; the Ionian mode became the major scale, and the Aeolian, the minor. See Harold S. Powers, "Mode" in New Grove, 12: 376-451.
(37) Functional diatonic harmony is a system of major and minor keys. Its building blocks are chords based primarily on the first, third, fourth, and fifth scale notes. As the harmonic system becomes relatively codified during the seventeenth century, it begins to adhere to a hierarchical set of rules governing the progression of chords.
(38) The words and music are from Bodleian MS Don.c.57, 20 (36).
(39) The repetition of the phrase "o gently" adds an extra foot to line 21. This repetition does not occur in all versions of the song.
(40) The song is possibly based on a poem by Samuel Daniel, "Care Charmer sleep," in Samuel Daniel's Delia, from Martha Foote Crow, ed., Elizabethan Sonnet-Cycles (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896; reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1969), 2: 66. However, except for the opening phrase and the phrase in line 2 of the poem, "brother to death," the imagery is different.
(41) Spink, English Song, 54.
(42) Bowden, The English Dramatic Lyric, 147.
(43) See Jorgens, Facsimiles, vol. 6 and John P. Cutts, "A Bodleian Song-Book: Don. C.57," Music and Letters 34 (1953): 192-211. The attribution to Johnson of "Care charminge sleepe" derives from another ornamented version of this song, in British Museum manuscript Add. 11608, fol. [16.sup.v]. Here, Robert Johnson's name appears at the end of the song. The top of the first page reads "Valentinian by Beaumont & Fletcher. Set to Music by Robt. Johnson." See Jorgens, Facsimiles, vol. 4 for a facsimile. Other early MSS are Chirst Church 87, ff. 5v (in Jorgens, Facsimiles, vol. 7) and Fitzwilliam Museum MS 52D. For editions of this song see Cutts, La Musique, 35-38 and 140-42 and Spink, Ayres, 34-36, 72.
(44) The music possibly did service in life outside the theater as an expression of grief for the death of King James' son, Prince Henry. See Turner in Bowers, ed., Beaumont and Fletcher, 4: 263, 389-90. Ironically, this song undoubtedly would have been chosen without full recognition of the music's nuanced meanings.
(45) The minor sixth is not an uncommon interval in John Dowland's melancholic ayres (e.g., the famous "Lachrymae").
(46) I presented an analysis of this song at the Lyrica Society Conference in Flagstaff, 1998. One participant, a singer, said that she had always had trouble with this song because it seemed musically confusing. The analysis, complete with information about the play, eased that confusion.
(47) The words are from the Fredson Bowers edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, here edited by Cyrus Hoy, specifically, copies of Q1 of 1613. Drexel 4175 is a popular songbook. Its words were very likely not copied with a great deal of care for how they would have appeared in the dramatic text of The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Scholars agree that MS. Drexel 4175, which contains songs by several composers, was compiled before 1630; Cutts thinks it may be as early as 1620. See his" `Songs unto the Violl and Lute'--Drexel MS. 4175," Musica Disciplina 16 (1962): 73-92. By using the words from Q1 of 1613, and the music from MS. Drexel 4175 of c. 1620, I believe I have achieved the closest representation of the song as it was originally performed.
Bruce H. Lobaugh of the Eastman School of Music has also transcribed MS. Drexel 4175, No. 44, offering notes that would be useful for a performance, in Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, ed. John Doebler. Other early manuscripts are New York Public Library MS Drexel 4257, No. 35 and MS Drexel 4041, No. 124. Cutts has edited the song from MS. Drexel 4175 as well as from MS. Drexel 4041, No. 124 in La Musique, 27-28, 134-36. In his edition, Cutts states that the song was added to The Knight of the Burning Pestle after its success in The Captain, a view that Austern challenges ("Music in Children's Drama," 414), as does internal evidence of the song's seminal importance to the plot. In addition, Spink has edited this in Ayres, 77. A facsimile of Drexel 4175 is available in Jorgens, Facsimiles, vol. 11; Drexel 4257, No. 35 is in Jorgens, vol. 10; and Drexel 4041 is in Jorgens, vol. 9.
(48) This is not to be confused with the musical sense of the word, of basing a work on borrowed material. This practice, common among sixteenth-century composers, did not necessarily involve any comic or satiric treatment of the borrowed material. Beaumont is known for parody, as first seen in his early work, such as his Grammar Lecture of around 1605. See Finkelpearl, Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), 18-22.
(49) Regarding the Renaissance arguments about women, see, for example, Katherine Usher Henderson and Barbara F. McManus, Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England, 1540-1640 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985); Linda Woodbridge, Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Womankind, 1540-1620 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984); and Francis Lee Utley, The Crooked Rib: An Analytical Index to the Argument about Women in English and Scots Literature to the End of the Year 1568 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1944).
(50) William Shakespeare, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. David Bevington, 4th ed. (New York: Longman, 1997).
(51) In the Renaissance, speaking out of turn is, for women, a forbidden act, for which the punishment is public display while wearing a scold's bridle. See Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama (London: Routledge, 1993), 181-82, and Henderson and McManus, Half Humankind, as well as Patricia Crawford, "Women's Published Writings 1600-1700," in Mary Prior, ed., Women in English Society 1500-1800 (New York: Methuen, 1985), 211-231.
(52) See Sandra Clark, The Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher: Sexual Themes and Dramatic Representation (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994), 78-100.
(53) There are numerous critical articles on this subject, as well as Renaissance dramatic examples of courtesans' songs, such as Lelia's in The Captain and Francischina's in The Dutch Courtesan. See Austern, "`Sing Againe Syren': Female Musicians and Sexual Enchantment in Elizabethan Life and Literature" Renaissance Quarterly 42 (1989): 420-448, and Rochelle Smith, "Admirable Musicians."
(54) Laurie E. Osborne, "Female Audiences and Female Authority in The Knight of the Burning Pestle," Examplaria 3:2 (Fall, 1991), 509.
(55) "`You Know the Plot/We Both Agreed On?': Plot, Self-Consciousness, and The London Merchant in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle" in Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England, ed. Leeds Barroll and James Shapiro, (New York: AMS Press, 1991), 5:211-15. See also Zitner, 27, and John Doebler, "The Tone of the Jasper and Luce Scenes in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle" English Studies 56 (1975): 108-13.
(56) Philip J. Finkelpearl, Court and Country Politics, 85-87.
(57) Bowden, The English Dramatic Lyric, 142; Austern, "Children's Drama," 415.
(58) Gurr, 7; Zitner, 173.
(59) The association between music and reflexivity emerges in the line, "I finde no musique in these boyes" (Philaster, II.iv.25), surely a reference to the choir boys performing on the private stage as well as a line of dialogue. The music in the plays of collaboration frequently forefronts itself as music. The song "Come hither you that love, and hear me sing" in The Captain contains a pointed description of "the power of my enchanting Song" to work restorative magic "in an houre."
(60) Ingram explains, "Fletcher's use of music was facilitated by the common musical background that author and audience shared. Music played a significant and inescapable part in Jacobean daily life" (77).
(61) This situation of nuanced double meaning brought out by the music is not the case for the use of the third song in The Captain, "Tell me dearest what is love," which is, I believe, Beaumont and Fletcher's re-use of Johnson's song (with slightly altered words to fit the new play) from the earlier The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
(62) See Cutts, La Musique, for identification of many, if not all, of these.
(63) See Chickering.
(64) See Peggy Simonds, "`My charms crack not': The Alchemical Structure of The Tempest," Comparative Drama 31:4 (Winter, 1997-98): 538-70.
(65) Elsewhere, I have compared Beaumont's and Fletcher's use of music, and have also examined songs by John Wilson and William Lawes for Beaumont/Fletcher revivals, not original productions, and found that these songs lack the plot-twisting characteristics of Johnson's. See Catherine A. Henze, "`With the Power of My Enchanting Song': Functions of Music in the Drama of Beaumont and Fletcher," (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1995).
(66) William Byrd, Psalmes, Songs, and Sonnets: some solemne, others joyfull, framed to the life of the Words: Fit for Voyces or Viols of 3. 4. 5. and 6. Parts (London: Printed by Thomas Snodham, 1611), in the preface, "To all true lovers of Musicke," in The English Madrigalists, ed. Edmund Horace Fellowes, 16 (London: Stainer and Bell, 1920), v.
CATHERINE A. HENZE University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
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|Author:||HENZE, CATHERINE A.|
|Article Type:||Critical Essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2000|
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