Minstrels Playing

December 2001
572 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859915854
Format: Hardback
BISAC MUS020000, DRA008000, LIT011000

Minstrels Playing

Music in Early English Religious Drama II

Richard Rastall

MEDIUM AEVUM says of Heaven Singing, the general discussion of the subject from which the present volume follows on with examination of the individual plays: 'A formidable achievement, indispensable for any serious and comprehensive study of early English drama.'
Richard Rastall's two books on music in early English religious drama complement each other. Heaven Singing provides an overview of the evidence for music in the plays, and defines the place, nature and cultural contexts of music in the drama; Minstrels Playing is a discussion of the evidence for every play in that repertory, and is therefore concerned with the place and nature of musical performance in each play individually. Following his general discussion of music in the anonymous religious plays of 15th- and 16th-century England in The Heaven Singing (1996), this companion volume turns to the individual biblical, saint and moral plays. Richard Rastall places each in its intellectual and cultural context, and notes the surviving evidence for music and other aural effects in the dramatic directions, text references, use of Latin and the liturgy, and the existing documentary records. At the end of each chapter a cue-list shows where the music should appear and presents the arguments for specific repertory and performance modes, providing an invaluable aid for directors. This leads on to a section on modern performance, in which Dr Rastall discusses a wide range of issues that impinge on the practicalities of providing music in early English drama and raise problems and queries for producers and musical directors: the type of staging and the nature of the set, the choice of cast, the choice of musical items, the training and rehearsing of singers, and much else. Dr RICHARD RASTALL is Reader in Historical Musicology and Dean of the Faculty of Music, Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Leeds.


A wealth of detail even more astonishing than Heaven Singing... These two volumes will be an essential tool for all scholars and paerformers. They represent the very best work done in the field. MEDIEVAL REVIEW * The scope of the book is wide... It should be read at an early stage by anyone intending to perform [the plays]... non-musicians will benefit from the author's alertness to the possibilities in the surviving evidence. EARLY MUSIC REVIEW * A highly authoritative analysis of the entire field... We have two splendid books: an essential guide to the practice of music within and around the English medieval vernacular religious play, and a stimulus both to the historical imagination in its own right and to the practical business of bringing these vivid texts to life in performance. MUSIC AND LETTERS (John Caldwell) * An invaluable tool for the student, teacher and producer of medieval drama and music. EARLY MUSIC TODAY He has an unrivalled knowledge of minstrelsy in the middle ages, and this pair of books will be of inestimable value. EARLY MUSIC This is a comprehensively useful book on the use of music in individual plays from the drama of the later Middle Ages. SPECULUM

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