Henry Purcell: The English Musical Tradition

By A. K. Holland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
ELEMENTS OF STYLE

IN the year 1694 there was published a new edition of John Playford 'Introduction to the Skill of Musick.' Honest John, as his contemporaries called him, was a successful popular publisher whose 'English Dancing Master' ( 1651) had lightened the gloom of the Commonwealth, and has since become the bible of English folkdancers. This issue (the twelfth) of his famous text-book, which ran into a score of editions down to 1730, had a peculiar virtue: it was edited by Henry Purcell.1 The 'Introduction,' designed for amateurs, included chapters on the theory of music, singing, and composition, herein described as the 'Art of Descant, or composing Musick in Parts.' It was this last section that was revised by Purcell. For the moment, however, we are concerned with the chapter on singing which, it is to be noted, Purcell or Playford Junior was content to reprint as it stood.

____________________
1
The previous editors had been Thomas Campion and Christopher Simpson. The section on composition, originally written ( 1683) but the 12th edition seems to be the first to which Purcell's name can with certainty be attached.

-107-

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Henry Purcell: The English Musical Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Part One - The Times 1
  • Chapter I - Antecedents 3
  • Chapter II - The Restoration Scene 33
  • Chapter III - Purcell and His Age 62
  • Part Two - The Music 105
  • Chapter I - Elements of Style 107
  • Chapter II - Poetic Materials 149
  • Chapter III - Music and Spectacle 192
  • Epilogue 236
  • Short Bibliography 242
  • Index 243
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