Music and Sound

Lucy Munro

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697861
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Music and Sound

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)



This article looks at music and sound from the perspective of the early modern commercial theatre in England. Although the vast majority of compositions associated with the playhouses have been lost, those that survive give a reasonably full picture of the use of music in at least some theatrical contexts, notably in early seventeenth-century plays of the children's companies and in plays performed by the Jacobean and Caroline King's Men. This article first explores institutional contexts — such as the acoustic environments of the early modern playhouses, the involvement of musicians with theatre companies, and their musical resources — before examining in more detail the use of sound, and especially song, on the early modern stage.

Keywords: England; music; sound; commercial theatre; King's Men; song; playhouses; children's companies; plays; musicians

Article.  8855 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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