Past Event

Columbia Shakespeare Seminar: Jennifer Linhart Wood (Folger Shakespeare Library)

October 11, 2019
5:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

"Hearing Cues in Shakespeare: Instrumental Music and Sound Effects."

Abstract: While it has been a critical commonplace to observe that every single one of Shakespeare’s plays features music and sound effects, less discussed is the pragmatic question of how off-stage musicians and other performers knew at what points in the plays these integral sounds should sound.  This presentation will survey a variety of cues to off-stage, back-stage, and above-stage musicians and other performers responsible for sound effects like bells, clock chimes, knocking, and thunder in several of Shakespeare’s later works, including MacbethHenry VIII, and the so-called romances (The TempestCymbelineThe Winter’s Tale, and Pericles).  I argue that these cues were embedded in the dialogue of the play-texts in both the First Folio and in the Pericles quarto; because it was unlikely that musicians had access to a play-script during a performance, the use of aurally discernible cues allowed musicians and others off, behind, and/or above the stage to hear when the time was appropriate for their particular musical or sonic entrance.  Embedded linguistic and sonic devices used to cue instrumental music and sound effects include an audibly discernible change in the meter of the spoken verse, the use of rhyming couplets, and the repetition of particular words.   



The event will be held in Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive. As usual, social hour will be from 5-6, dinner 6-7, and the talk 7-8:30. Please reply to the Evite. The cost for dinner, payable by check only, is $30.  When you RSVP to please indicate whether or not you plan to come to dinner (by Thursday October 8) so an accurate count can be given to the chef.