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Shakespeare's Songbook Hardcover – April 17, 2004
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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.Read more ›
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.
The CD was missing on my used Copy, & I haven't looked for a replacement item yet.
Oak Publications (Sing-Out) New York had a more Folksy " Songs from Shakespeare's Plays" Soft Bound,Book
that I bought, circa 1970, if You want to spend less Money. Dover Publications does reprints of Wm. Chappell's
"Popular Music of the Olden Times" in 2 Volumes, & "Fitzwilliam's Virginal Book" which are also Good.
Just the Other Day I was viewing an Original Copy of "Lady Nivell's Booke" in the British Library, in their new, "Page Turner"
Digital Format. I didn't have to leave the House !!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very fine and important book to have if you need to teach or perform songs related to, or from, Shakespeare. I know many of the singers on the recording. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
What can you possibly say that could be critical? Shakespeare's poetry. In a book. For a good price.Published 15 months ago by Cardinal Finery
The reference book to end all reference books for Shakespeare and/or early music fans. Opens up the text in expansive ways.Published 24 months ago by Robin Dolan
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. Read morePublished on April 27, 2014 by AndyR
If you like Shakespeare and if you want to discover the music he was supposed to insert .... GoPublished on April 9, 2010 by Mr. Jean Appere
Purchased for an English Theatre teacher, and she loved it. Beautiful book presentation with CD.Published on February 6, 2010 by Tina