The Heaven Singing

October 1996
10 black and white, 65 line illustrations
452 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859915502
Format: Paperback
Library eBook
BISAC MUS020000, LIT013000, LIT011000

The Heaven Singing

Music in Early English Religious Drama I

Richard Rastall

"Its scope is impressive... a formidable achievement, indispensable for any serious and comprehensive study of early English drama." MEDIUM AEVUM
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.
Where should there be music in an anonymous English religious play of the fifteenth or sixteenth century? What sort of music should it be, and by what forces should it be performed? This volume shows how music was used at the time of the plays' production, both through a close examination of individual texts, and of the place of music in the intellectual and artistic life of the middle ages. Richard Rastall begins by discussing the internal literary evidence of the play texts, the surviving notated music in the plays, and documentary evidence of productions, before turning to the wider cultural context in which the plays were composed and performed. He considers the representational and dynamic functions of music in the plays, the relationship between music, drama and liturgy, and the performers themselves - who they were, and what they might be expected to do. Related factors necessary to the discovery of how music was used in late medieval drama are also considered, from medieval cosmology and the numerical construction of plays to the age and size of boy actors.

Dr RICHARD RASTALL is Reader in Historical Musicology at the University of Leeds, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

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Its scope is impressive. Rastall's task has been to explore the wide musical spectrum of early English drama... a formidable achievement, indispensable for any serious and comprehensive study of early English drama. MEDIUM AEVUM

Deserves to be read widely by those interested in the plays as literature and drama as well as by those seeking to ... build up a picture of the musical culture the plays imply. EARLY MUSIC REVIEW

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