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Music for the Mad: A study of the madness in Purcell's mad songs
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Musicology.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]



"Music for the Mad: A study of the madness in Purcell's mad songs"

Ester Lebedinski, Uppsala University, Sweden, Department of Musicology, 2009.

Madness was a stock topic in seventeenth-century drama, and music a compulsory feature on the Restoration stage. Henry Purcell's contributions to the latter are abundant, and include the popular combination of madness and music in his mad songs for Thomas Durfey's comedies. This essay aims at exploring the depiction of madness through music, verbal text and dramatic context in Purcell's mad songs for Durfey's plays A Fool's Preferment (1688), The Richmond Heiress (1693) and part I and III of The Comical History of Don Quixote (1694 and 1696 re­spectively). Particular emphasis is laid on text illustration and the songs' placement in the dramatic context. Madness is discussed as a deviation from the accepted norm, as the anormal demarcated from the normal.

Conclusively, Purcell's mad songs are characterized by their variousness e.g. rapid changes between keys, styles, moods and subject matters, as opposed to the relative conti­nuousness of songs not depicting madness, and their sometimes exaggerated word paintings. Purcell's music does not independently express madness, but the illustration of madness is linked to the verbal text and the dramatic context, highlighted and completed through Pur­cell's music. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 64 p.
Keyword [en]
madness, song, Purcell, Durfey, Restoration comedy, the seventeenth century
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-154052OAI: diva2:418901
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-05-26 Created: 2011-05-24 Last updated: 2011-05-26Bibliographically approved

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