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Shakespeare's Songbook Hardcover – April 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Har/Com edition (April 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058895
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A wonderfully concise and informative guide to the songs and ballads. . . . The first complete collection.” (Times Literary Supplement)

About the Author

Ross W. Duffin, the Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of the award-winning Shakespeare's Songbook. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Purchased for an English Theatre teacher, and she loved it.
Tina
Now that it's Shakespeare's 450th, there's still barely a month goes by without my referring to it again... there are still so many songs to shape into something new.
AndyR
I hope that directors and actors take it up, so that they can return at least some of the music to Shakespeare's plays.
Ana F. Boe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By bgarfink on May 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ross Duffin has performed a mighty feat--coming up with pre-composed music for all the Shakespeare lyrics--including some never before published. This is a wonderful resource and a great starting point for anyone who wants to understand the musical references in Shakespeare's plays, and also for anyone who wants to use period music for actual productions.

That said, there are many traps for the unwary. Duffin has, at the same time, cast his net too widely and too narrowly. He has taken the reasonable step of starting by looking for printed ballads with similar verse patterns to Shakespeare lyrics and then finding which of those ballad tunes that seems to fit the Shakespeare verse the best. This can make for anomalies, however: so often, the best fit is either "Robin Goodfellow," also known as "Dulcina," or "Goddesses." This in spite of the fact that both these tunes seem to originate rather late for the purpose: the first surviving example of "Dulcina," and also the first written record of its existence, dates from 1615, five years after Shakespeare retired from the theather, and "Goddesses" dates from 1650 or thereabouts. Duffin generously acknowledge these facts in each individual case. But he uses both these tunes far too often in the collection as a whole, given their tenuous existence in Shakespeare's own day. Some other suggested tunes also seem to date from much later.

The idea that most of these verses would have been sung to ballad tunes also seems far too simplistic, given what we know of the variety of theatrical songs in general that survive from this period, songs such as the anonymous "Have you seen but the white lily grow," as well as the works of Robert Johnson and theatrical viol consort songs such as "The dark is my delight.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ana F. Boe on June 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It is with pleasure that I recommend Ross Duffin's Shakespeare's Songbook. Foregrounding the musical allusions in Shakespeare's plays, Duffin asks us to radically re-conceive our understanding of the Elizabethan experience of attending plays. By demonstrating how Shakespeare at times cites, at other times extracts the popular music of his time, Duffin makes a compelling case for Shakespearean plays as multimedia events. While we think of a play as a series of acts comprised solely of spoken dialogue, Duffin shows us how Shakespeare uses musical excerpts and allusions to ballads and other "pop music" of his day in order to amplify his meaning. Duffin's findings suggest that the Elizabethan experience of going to a play would be akin to our experience of watching a film like Moulin Rouge, which cuts and pastes our pop music into a narrative. (Except, of course, that Shakespeare did it so much better!) Part of what makes this book so amazing is that Duffin has reconstructed tunes and songs to which Shakespeare only alludes! The companion CD allows us to get a taste of what the music would have sounded like--performed, I might add, on period instruments!

I do want to clarify something mentioned in the previous review. The writer ends by noting, "the authors have definitely opened the book on the subject of Shakespeare's music." Perhaps this is a typo, but there are no authors (plural). Ross Duffin is the author. Perhaps the reviewer doesn't understand that someone (in this case, Stephen Orgel) could write the foreword for a book without being its author. At any rate, clarification is in order.

This book has changed how I think about and teach Shakespeare. I hope that directors and actors take it up, so that they can return at least some of the music to Shakespeare's plays.
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Format: Hardcover
I first came across Duffin's book while researching for songs for a CD to celebrate my (non-Renaissance) band's tenth birthday, nearly a decade ago. Now that it's Shakespeare's 450th, there's still barely a month goes by without my referring to it again... there are still so many songs to shape into something new. This year we're getting together as a Shakespeare Big Band, last week we had a Shakespeare Dancing House, in the summer we're doing two Shakespeare festival gigs. Greatly thanks to Ross Duffin's book, which, having bought for myself, I promptly purchased for the university library.
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By Mr. Jean Appere on April 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like Shakespeare and if you want to discover the music he was supposed to insert .... Go
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