Re: Shakespeare and Music
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 283. Thursday, 29 October 1992.
From: Steve Urkowitz <
Date: Thursday, Oct. 29, 1992, 20:13:35 EST
Subject: 3.0279 Shakespeare and Music
Comment: Re: SHK 3.0279 Shakespeare and Music
Shakespeare's attitude toward music . . . effects on audiences of new, 1992
sounds rather than "Renaissance" old-fashioned inaccessible but perhaps
authentic . . . Well, prissy half-hearted performances of 400-year-old scores
wouldn't bring much joy to anyone, but neither would prissy half-hearted
performances of the music department's benefactor's 1992 composition for viol
The problem back then as now has always been to find ways to infuse technique
and idea with passion. The passion can't be antique, or even yesterday or this
morning. For many years, I worked with singers, coaching them in the
performance of medieval, Renaissance, and modern texts. Just as a Renaissance
schoolboy was faced with getting meanings and passions across in his
compositions and translations, performers can't just "bark the text."
Synthesizer players can't just program "early" or "1992" without sounding like
An unaccompanied voice, as is so often called for in the script, has its own
authenticity. And electronically produced fanfares following an equally
electronic storm in OTHELLO can "signify" whether they draw on Dowland or
Dixieland. We've all seen lively translations and deadly "accurate
reproduction." The music of a Shakespearean play is in the play if you can
find it. The attitudes towards sound and rhythm and timbre are as much found
in the words as in the stage directions calling for hautboys or the part-songs
in Musica Transalpina.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough . . .
Steve Arielowitz, SURCC@CUNYVM