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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Throughout his career, Shakespeare evinces a particular interest in the interplay between a musical interlude and the dramatic context in which it appears, a context which can substantially alter the meaning and affect of the music. Music offers an especially wide range of possibilities in comedy, as it may be a seduction or a symbol of unions and reconciliations; it may herald festive celebration or undermine a seemingly merry moment with unexpected wistfulness or melancholy. Moreover, different audiences respond differently to the same music, depending on their awareness of its context. This chapter will contextualize the comedies’ rich inclusion of song in terms of popular and courtly vocal and instrumental music. It also will locate this aspect of Shakespearean dramaturgy within the contemporary discourse surrounding the powers and dangers of music.

Keywords: music, Shakespeare, comedy, harmony, song, resolution, reconciliation, subjectivity

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