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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Authentic Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1712  Monday, 11 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Judy Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Sep 2000 10:00:18 -0300 (ADT)
        Subj:   rhyming convert/art

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Sep 2000 10:51:24 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Sep 2000 09:59:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

[4]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Sep 2000 10:03:37 -0700
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

[5]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Saturday, 09 Sep 2000 08:00:03 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

[6]     From:   William Sutton <
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        Date:   Saturday, 9 Sep 2000 06:09:27 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

[7]     From:   Patrick Buckridge <
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        Date:   Mon, 11 Sep 2000 14:28:13 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Sep 2000 10:00:18 -0300 (ADT)
Subject:        rhyming convert/art

Without recourse to E. J. Dobson's English Pronunciation 1500-1700, or
similar sources, current usage tells us that er was and can still be
pronounced ar.  In England Berkshire is pronounced Barkshire, not as in
the vulgar term of abuse, You berk.

Judy Kennedy

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Sep 2000 10:51:24 -0400
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

>"Wind" (as in
> blowing air) 400 years ago really did rhyme with "bind" -
> the last couplet rhymes "love" and "prove".

The Scots Presbyterian hymnal rhymes these much more recently: perhaps
even today?

Along with "rain" and "again".

"..where have you been?/  I've been to London, to look at the Queen."

 I have sung these as perfect rhymes with numerous choirs and choruses.

I worked up my Scottish accent to audition for Liz Lockhead's "Perfect
Days" before reading the script, and then discovered that it was set in
working class Glasgow-- not "actor's" (highland) Scots at all.  More
like North Eng. or Ireland regionals.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Sep 2000 09:59:38 -0500
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

Sam:

>Thank you Dale.  You are so right.  At least in part.  "Wind" (as in
>blowing air) 400 years ago really did rhyme with "bind" - I can accept
>"astromom-ee" and qualit-ee" - but "convert" does not rhyme with "art".
>Shakespeare - like pretty much anyone else - rhymes the last vowel
>sound.  The latter pairing do not.  A worse anomaly is in sonnet 154 -
>the last couplet rhymes "love" and "prove".  I have tried all modern
>English accents and none fit this one.

Actually, I think convert did rhyme with art. I ran into this some years
ago when I was doing some research on "To His Coy Mistress." One critic
pointed out that in contemporary English (the South Midland, not
necessarily Marvell's original Northumbrian) the famous line would have
been pronounced "desARTs of VAHST eTARnity." This seemed likely to me,
and when I checked further found it confirmed, but I suppose it might be
disputed. Sir Joseph Porter, late in the 19th Century, rose from being
(among other things) a junior clerk to the Ruler of the Queen's Navee.
In the pronunciation of that word -- still CLARK, like the name, in
Britain but CLURK in the U.S. -- there is much the same issue. Someone
may know the full history, and how it changed from CLEHRK of Chaucer..

Maybe I'm still under the influence of "A Hard Day's Night," but isn't
love often pronounced approximately "loov" (similar to look) in many
English accents, or at least by many Englishmen, not to mention others
(perhaps Scots, Irish, or Welsh) for whom Received is irrelevant? I
wonder if love and prove used to be a fairly exact rhyme but that the
former changed a great deal in one direction and the latter a small
amount in the other.

Astronomy and quality puzzle me a bit, though. Most of his rhymes of
that sort are more exact (impiety/society-- 67; despising/arising  --
29). But there are plenty of the other (eloquence/recompense -- 23;
a-doting/nothing -- 20). And one that has always amazed me:

And gilded honour shamefully misplac'd
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted
And right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd
And strength by limping sway disabled
(66)

I assume that disabled in pronounced as a four-syllable word, making up
two iambic feet (dis A bel ED). But it still doesn't rhyme very well,
and Shakespeare could certainly rhyme with the best when he wanted.
Moreover, these instances are as likely to appear in his most powerful
sonnets (such as 66) as his secondary ones.

What it means, I suppose, is that if you're a genius you can get away
with anything.

don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Sep 2000 10:03:37 -0700
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

Has anyone on the list seen the RSC video series on acting Shakespeare?
On a couple of these programs (11 in all, I believe), John Barton gives
some admittedly imperfect attempts at Elizabethan pronunciation, which
he claims sounds more like modern American English than British RP (by
the way, Patrick Stewart and Judi Dench are both involved in this
series). I found it quite interesting, though I couldn't hear much
"American" in his pronunciation. He did make the good point that there
was much more diphthong-ing in the Elizabethan vowels than in RP.

Any reactions?

Paul E. Doniger
The Gilbert School

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Saturday, 09 Sep 2000 08:00:03 +1000
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

Sam Small wrote:

>Thank you Dale.  You are so right.  At least in part.  "Wind" (as in
>blowing air) 400 years ago really did rhyme with "bind" - I can accept
>"astromom-ee" and qualit-ee" - but "convert" does not rhyme with
>"art".

But it did then, much as "clerk" rhymes with "dark" in modern RP (though
not, of course, in General American).

Peter Groves

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Sutton <
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Date:           Saturday, 9 Sep 2000 06:09:27 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd jump in on the pronunciation thread; Sam Small's problems
with rhyming sounds in particular. I myself have a non-accent. I was
born in Lancashire of scottish parents, emigrated to Toronto, and live
now in Amsterdam speaking dutch and english. (I like to say I have a
diction, but then I am a boy). I have read the sonnets hundreds of times
and indeed some words do not match in their *intended* rhyme. The
various recordings also are predominantly Received Pronunciation, the
voice of the English theatre Establishment. Gielgud insisted on rhyming
(riming)?  'winds' with 'minds' in Q117. Or on archaic pronunciations
how about 'huzzif' for 'housewife' in Q143.

The idea I like to pursue with the non-matching rhymes and archaic
pronunciations is that the writer himself was acutely aware of these
same problems. I believe these poems were delivered in person.  Any
performer who has sung for his supper before will agree with me that the
crucible of performance produces surprising results. These monologues
are not only witty but self-reflexively ironic.

For example in Q112 the writer rhymes 'care' with 'are'. (beats
'convert' and 'art', which I have no problem riming Sam, using a
faux-devonshire rustic accent or a silly hindi accent). The argument in
Q112 is the best advice to performers on criticism and flattery ever
recorded. It can withstand being sent up on its pronunciation. The same
thing happens for my taste in Q51 when desire is likened to a horse in a
race. These lines cry out to be spoken onomatopoeically.

'Then can no horse with my desire keep pace,
Therefore desire (of perfect'st love being made)
Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race,
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade,'
Q51: l.9-12.

The writer plays with sound to the tiniest suffix. His use of caesura is
masterful and completely based on ear jokes. Look at 'perfect'st' in the
above example.  Or 'thus-shall', 'dull-flesh'. The tongue bounces around
rising and falling like the rider on the horse.  Shakespeare is in the
details for the performer, but the performance is always more important
than pedantic details. Who the hell is gonna notice that convert and art
didn't rhyme?  Was the writer making an exact rhyme or a sight rhyme? We
don't know either way.

The standard of R.P. for Shakespeare still has its grip on the theatre
world, especially in England, but I think it is changing. Personally I
think a performer connected with the words, understanding their effect
on the person listening, is far more important than how they are
accented. The R.P. fixation has unfortunately produced some really
mediocre performances for various ethnic performers at the RSC who had
to conform to this ideal. The level of diph and triphthongality has
lulled many a spectator of the RSC to sleep. But the generation of
actors in New Britain from different cultures is slowly having an
effect.

Shakespeare lived in a time when the diversity of accents was probably
as strong as it is now. At Court Raleigh we are told (by Marchette
Chute) kept his devonshire accent as de Vere kept his warwickshire
accent (by Dave Kathman). Did Burbage differ from Alleyn? Kempe from
Tarlton? Was there a standard speech for the Elizabethan stage other
than comprehensibility? Did the Elizabethan 'blue rinses' (little old
ladies of middle class extraction with a penchant for the hairdresser)
walk away from a play saying 'ooh didn't he speak it beautifully'?

'Nuff said. Ayrie!

Yours in jest,
William S.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patrick Buckridge <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Sep 2000 14:28:13 +1000
Subject: 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1706 Re: Authentic Performance

Sam Small wrote:

>"convert" does not rhyme with "art".
>Shakespeare - like pretty much anyone else - rhymes the last vowel
>sound.  The latter pairing do not.  A worse anomaly is in sonnet 154 -
>the last couplet rhymes "love" and "prove".  I have tried all modern
>English accents and none fit this one.

Maybe not whole accents, but there are certainly residual usages like
'proven', pronounced 'proaven', which is now a legalism, but was more
widely used well into the 20th century, and the abbreviation 'varsity'
for university.  It's my impression that there's enough rhyming and
spelling evidence from the 16th and 17th centuries to indicate the
authenticity of 'convert'/'art' to a virtual certainty. The standard
example used to be Marvell's 'desarts of vast eternitie', the effect of
which we were told was heightened by the word being pronounced
'etarnitie'.  But then there's also Hervey, Derby and Berkeley Square -
or am I missing the point?

Pat Buckridge
 

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