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Title: Thomas Whythorne and Tudor musicians
Author: Nelson, Katie M.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2010
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The autobiography of Tudor musician Thomas Whythorne (1528-1596) is rich with self-exploration, social commentary and intimate storytelling. His story begins at childhood, then progresses chronologically as he gains an education, becomes a music master, and rubs shoulders with some of the most prominent people in England. This rich historical source has been strangely neglected, particularly by social historians, since its discovery in 1955. No one in any discipline has so far attempted an overall assessment of Whythorne the man, his work, and his significance. This is my aim. Working outwards from a close examination of his unique manuscript (Bodleian MS. Misc.c.330), this study hopes to shed new light on the music profession in early modern England. Whythorne adds considerable clarity of focus to the professionalization of music in the sixteenth century, as seen through the eyes of one of its advocates. Chapter 1 reviews Whythorne’s own life story and compares it with available external evidence. Chapter 2 proceeds to mine the manuscript itself for further evidence of Whythorne’s motives and methodology, offering a number of new hypotheses regarding the dating, content, and structure of the manuscript. Chapters 3 and 4 explore the nature of the Tudor musical profession, proposing and exploring a ‘spherical’ model of the music profession (in place of a hierarchical model). These chapters examine the various ‘spheres’ or types of musicians in turn, comparing Whythorne’s descriptions to external evidence. Chapter 5 then examines private music tutors in greater depth, as this group have previously remained very shadowy figures. Finally, Chapter 6 examines the world of early music printing in England, and Whythorne’s pioneering place in it. It also explores the nature and function of his self-fashioning, arguing that Whythorne constructed an identity well outside the realm of the generic. By viewing early modern society through Whythorne’s lens and comparing it to contemporary sources, we can shed new light on early modern musicians in England, and on the society in which they lived.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: ML Literature of music