Music & Dance In Elizabethan Era
Join Shakespeare in his time of dance and music!
Music had been used to accompany poems during the medieval era. The Elizabethans taste for the Theatre was soon enhanced by the accompaniment of music. It was only a short step to combine the accustomed music with its accompanying verse with the exciting pageantry of the Elizabethan theatre. The importance of music to the Elizabethans was reflected in the plays of William Shakespeare who makes more than five hundred references to music in his plays and poems! The plays of William Shakespeare were divided into three categories - Comedies, Tragedies and Histories. Each genre required a different emotions to be reflected in the music. Elizabethan Theatre musicians were usually situated in a section of the 'Lords Rooms'. The 'Lords Rooms' were situated in a gallery immediately above stage wall and facing the backs of the actors. A perfect position for the musicians to accompany the plays. The theatre musicians also took strategic places on the theatre stage and were even known to play under the theatre stage giving the impression of distance or providing an eerie atmosphere.
Queen Elizabeth employed at least 70 musicians and singers. The singers included those from the Chapel Royal. Her favorite court composers included Thomas Campion (1567-1620), Robert Johnson (1500-1560) and William Byrd (1543-1623). The range of Elizabethan music played at court varied enormously from traditional, simple English ballads to solemn church music to lively dance music. The court musicians played to the courtiers from the Minstrels Gallery. The Minstrels Galleries were situated on a raised gallery overlooking the Great Hall of the castles and palaces used during the Elizabethan era. The musicians were seated on a narrow balcony, usually having a railing or balustrade.
Examples of Court Music
Qeumadmodum A 6 (Taverner)
Allemande (C16 Anon.) - Hesperion XX
Great Music from the court of Elizabeth 1
Music Was Apart Of Everything In The Elizabethan Era
Street music is played at markets and fairs. The musicians carried fiddles, the lute, recorders, and small percussion instruments. The music is traditional favorites.
Elizabethan Church music was beautiful. Many of the Elizabethan composers not only composed music for the court but also the church. Elizabethan composers for the voice made use of two distinct styles which were called the Madrigal and the Ayre. The early 1500's saw the high point of the unique English liturgical style. Church music included canzonets, balletts, madrigals and ‘sacred songs’. The style of Elizabethan church music is described as choral polyphony (polyphonic, counterpoint, contrapuntal), meaning more than one part. Thomas Tallis and William Byrd ( organist of the Chapel Royal ) were the chief Elizabethan composers of Elizabethan Church music providing the new Protestant Church of England with a wealth of Hymns that are still played today.
Instruments Used In this era
- Stringed Musical Instruments - instruments which were played with a bow or plucked
- Wind Musical Instruments - instruments which were blown like trumpets or bagpipes
- Percussion Musical Instruments - various forms of drums and bells
- Keyboard Musical instruments - the organ, spinet, harpsichord and virginals
A Roll or Rowle
Smock or shift, also called
a chemise made of linen
Stockings or hose
Corset or bodice
Farthingale - a hooped skirt
Headdresses were also very common for the wealthy.
Robe For The Queen
It was highly common for the queen and the queen's family to wear robes.
Dresses Bigger Than Texas
The dresses the women would wear were always huge. The bigger the better.
Stockings or hose