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Music Theory in Britain, 1500–1700: Critical Editions


About the Series

The purpose of this series is to provide critical editions of music theory in Britain (primarily England, but Scotland, Ireland and Wales also) from 1500 to 1700. By 'theory' is meant all sorts of writing about music, from textbooks aimed at the beginner to treatises written for a more sophisticated audience. These foundational texts have immense value in revealing attitudes, ways of thinking and even vocabulary crucial for understanding and analysing music. They reveal beliefs about the power of music, its function in society and its role in education, and they furnish valuable information about performance practice and about the context of performance. They are a window into musical culture every bit as important as the music itself.

The editions in this series present the text in its original form. That is, they retain original spelling, capitalization and punctuation, as well as certain salient features of the type, for example, the choice of font. A textual commentary in each volume offers an explication of difficult or unfamiliar terminology as well as suggested corrections of printing errors; the introduction situates the work and its author in a larger historical context.

Jessie Ann Owens is assisted on the series by Series Assistant Editor, Minji Kim.

12 Series Titles

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John Birchensha: Writings on Music

John Birchensha: Writings on Music

1st Edition

Christopher D.S. Field, Benjamin Wardhaugh
December 19, 2018

John Birchensha (c.1605-?1681) is chiefly remembered for the impression that his theories about music made on the mathematicians, natural philosophers and virtuosi of the Royal Society in the 1660s and 1670s, and for inventing a system that he claimed would enable even those without practical...

On the Origin and Progress of the Art of Music by John Taverner

On the Origin and Progress of the Art of Music by John Taverner

1st Edition

Joseph M. Ortiz
September 13, 2018

John Taverner’s lectures on music constitute the only extant version of a complete university course in music in early modern England. Originally composed in 1611 in both English and Latin, they were delivered at Gresham College in London between 1611 and 1638, and it is likely that Taverner...

The Praise of Musicke, 1586: An Edition with Commentary

The Praise of Musicke, 1586: An Edition with Commentary

1st Edition

Hyun-Ah Kim
November 16, 2017

This volume provides the first printed critical edition of The Praise of Musicke (1586), keeping the original text intact and accompanied by an analytical commentary. Against the Puritan attacks on liturgical music, The Praise of Musicke, the first apologetic treatise on music in English,...

John Wallis: Writings on Music

John Wallis: Writings on Music

1st Edition

Benjamin Wardhaugh, David Cram
September 28, 2014

John Wallis (1616-1703), was one of the foremost British mathematicians of the seventeenth century, and is also remembered for his important writings on grammar and logic. An interest in music theory led him to produce translations into Latin of three ancient Greek texts - those of Ptolemy,...

The Music Treatises of Thomas Ravenscroft: 'Treatise of Practicall Musicke' and A Briefe Discourse

The Music Treatises of Thomas Ravenscroft: 'Treatise of Practicall Musicke' and A Briefe Discourse

1st Edition

Ross W. Duffin
June 28, 2014

Thomas Ravenscroft is best-known as a composer of rounds owing to his three published collections: Pammelia and Deuteromelia (both 1609), and Melismata (1611), in addition to his harmonizations of the Whole Booke of Psalmes (1621) and his original sacred works. A theorist as well as a composer and...

Thomas Salmon: Writings on Music: Volume I: An Essay to the Advancement of Musick and the Ensuing Controversy, 1672-3

Thomas Salmon: Writings on Music: Volume I: An Essay to the Advancement of Musick and the Ensuing Controversy, 1672-3

1st Edition

Benjamin Wardhaugh
August 13, 2013

Thomas Salmon (1647-1706) is remembered today for the fury with which Matthew Locke greeted his first foray into musical writing, the Essay to the Advancement of Musick (1672), and the near-farcical level to which the subsequent pamphlet dispute quickly descended. Salmon proposed a radical reform...

Thomas Salmon: Writings on Music: Volume II: A Proposal to Perform Musick and Related Writings, 1685-1706

Thomas Salmon: Writings on Music: Volume II: A Proposal to Perform Musick and Related Writings, 1685-1706

1st Edition

Benjamin Wardhaugh
August 12, 2013

This is the second volume in a two-part set on the writings of Thomas Salmon. Salmon (1647-1706) is remembered today for the fury with which Matthew Locke greeted his first foray into musical writing, the Essay to the Advancement of Musick (1672), and the near-farcical level to which the subsequent...

'The Temple of Music' by Robert Fludd

'The Temple of Music' by Robert Fludd

1st Edition

Peter Hauge
December 28, 2010

Robert Fludd (1574-1637) is well known among historians of science and philosophy for his intriguing work, The Metaphysical, Physical and Technical History of both Major and Minor Worlds, in which music plays an important role in his system of neoplatonic correspondences: the harmony of the...

A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke by Elway Bevin

A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke by Elway Bevin

1st Edition

Denis Collins
August 28, 2007

Elway Bevin's A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke begins with rudimentary instruction on consonance, dissonance and proportions but quickly turns to a presentation of examples of plainsong-based canonic writing of increasing complexity and remarkable diversity. Bevin's book was...

Synopsis of Vocal Musick by A.B. Philo-Mus.

Synopsis of Vocal Musick by A.B. Philo-Mus.

1st Edition

Rebecca Herissone
October 28, 2006

Synopsis of Vocal Musick, by the unidentified A.B., was published in London in 1680 and appears to have only ever had one edition. Its relatively short shelf-life belies its importance to the history of early British music theory. Unlike other English theoretical writings of the period, the...

A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song by William Bathe

A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song by William Bathe

1st Edition

Kevin C. Karnes
April 18, 2005

Although unjustly neglected by modern writers, William Bathe’s contributions to music pedagogy in late sixteenth-century England were profound. Bathe’s A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song (1596) not only includes the first explication of a four-syllable, non-hexachordal solmization method...

A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counterpoint by Thomas Campion: and Rules how to Compose by Giovanni Coprario

A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counterpoint by Thomas Campion: and Rules how to Compose by Giovanni Coprario

1st Edition

Christopher R. Wilson
September 28, 2003

Regarded as one of the most important English music treatises in the seventeenth century, Thomas Campion's A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counterpoint reveals progressive ideas about the latent theory of inversions, the fundamental bass, cadences and tonality, and the major-minor octave scale....

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