Music and power at the English court, 1575-1624
This thesis examines the functions of music and dance in English occasional entertainments between 1575 and 1624 by considering masques, country house entertainments, royal entries and civic pageantry. It explores the changing discourse of music's place within court entertainments, and the ways that different types of entertainment present music. Music's associations with court power are tested through an examination of the ways in which it is adopted and adapted on non-courtly public occasions. This thesis contends that musical provision and musicality were crucial to the prestige of a particular event, and are therefore crucial to a contextualised interpretation of the textual traces the events have left behind. It seeks to understand the role of music in these events, both in terms of the way its particular qualities are deployed, and also the way those qualities are presented and exploited within the allegorical schemes of the entertainments themselves. This study interrogates the circumstances of particular occasions, including aspects such as the place and time of an event, the political standing of the people who attended and commissioned it, and the resources and personnel available to provide the music and dance for such events. Rather than seeking to separate out these elements, this thesis examines the way they interact, showing both how music can bring connotative meaning to the events it is part of, and also how the events themselves shape musical meaning in particular ways. This thesis demonstrates that music's meanings are shaped by the extra-musical factors that surround it, and that music is able both to absorb and bestow meaning across the boundaries of social differentiation that it is enlisted to reinforce.