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The Scope and Format of the Music Edition
The aim of this edition is to present all known music associated with the Jonson canon from before c. 1700. In addition, significant settings of Jonson’s words from after 1700 have also been included. These are principally settings of ‘Drink to me only with thine eyes’, as well as a number of eighteenth-century glee settings. The Music Edition also includes as a separate appendix an edition of Thomas Augustine Arne’s The Fairy Prince (1771), a complete opera the libretto of which is largely based on Oberon. The most significant absence of post-1700 material is John Abraham Fisher’s opera The Druids (1774), which also contained borrowings from several Jonsonian masques, particularly The Haddington Masque. The vocal score was published in 1774, but the work lacks quality; an edition may be added as another appendix to the archive at a later date.
The attribution of instrumental music to Jonson’s masques is particularly fraught with conjecture. In many instances only the most tentative association may be made on the grounds of a title found in British Library, Add. MS 10444, the main source for Jacobean masque dances (the manuscript also appears to have been compiled in a roughly chronological order). In the absence of better alternatives for items such as ‘The Goats’ Dance’ (generally associated with For the Honour of Wales), these tentative associations, supported by circumstantial evidence where possible, have generally been allowed to stand and thus are included in this edition. The most problematic dances are those carrying some titular variant of ‘The Prince’s Masque’, which for obvious reasons could be associated with almost any masque. Add. 10444 includes three groups of ‘Prince’s masque’ dances which have been associated with various Jonson masques by previous scholars but which have not been chosen for inclusion in this edition:
The main Music Edition contains over 80 vocal items (this number includes different musical settings of the same text) and over two dozen instrumental pieces in different media (e.g. solo lute, keyboard, ensemble). Each item has an individual index number. First, the literary contexts are grouped by genre, Plays (P), Masques (M), and Non-Dramatic Verse (N), with works presented chronologically within each genre (obviously, only works for which music survives are counted). Second, the play, masque, or non-dramatic verse collection is listed by number (the earliest play is ‘1’ and so on). Third, the music item within that play, masque, or non-dramatic verse collection is listed in order (or, in the case of masque dances, in their apparent order). Some items are further distinguished by being described as ‘settings’ or ‘versions’. ‘Setting’ refers to unrelated musical settings of the same text; ‘version’ refers to items that are directly related (or derivative), but that are distinct enough to merit separate transcription. In all such cases the relationships are discussed in the textual commentary and/or in the headnotes. Settings are distinguished in the index numbers by a forward slash followed by the (Arabic) number of the setting; versions are distinguished by a miniscule letter in round brackets. The two systems are combined when a setting survives in multiple versions. For example, P.2.1/2(b) (Full score , MIDI ) means that this is a Play song, from Play 2 (Poetaster), and is item 1 from that play (‘If I freely may discover’). There are multiple settings of that item (in this case, two), this is setting 2. Further, it is Version b (i.e. one of two related settings). Items which are appendices have the suffix ‘A’ (e.g. M.12.6A). The Fairy Prince is considered a separate entity, and has been given its own internal numbering system.
One of the frustrations of the repertoire that comprises this edition is that items often survive incomplete in some way. This is most easily demonstrated by the masque items. We know from contemporary descriptions that the songs were lavishly orchestrated, though they tend to survive simply as tune and bass settings. Indeed, many of the songs also had choruses, of which none have survived. Even Arne’s much later setting of The Fairy Prince lacks much original detail; the vocal score reveals only a glimpse of the orchestration, and lacks several choruses and all of the secco recitatives (fortunately some have been recovered from another source). Thus the editor is faced with the decision of whether or not to attempt reconstructions. Given the speculative nature of such a project where so many details are lacking, it was decided to attempt reconstruction only of short passages or where a single part was missing (for example, the harmonic bass has been reconstructed in N.2.7, Thomas Ford’s setting of ‘Come, let us here enjoy the shade’). Any known information on orchestration etc. available from contemporary sources has been provided in the Headnotes.
Quantity is rarely a measure of quality. There is much good music in this edition, some of it excellent; there are also pieces that fall into the euphemistic category of ‘historical interest’. The edition provides descriptions of all sources used, as well as headnotes on each individual item, in which detailed discussions and suggestions for further reading and listening may be found. Unfortunately many of the items in this edition are rarely performed, and comparatively few have been recorded. Where recordings are known, they have been cited, though the Discography provided is not intended to be exhaustive.