Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shakespeare and Bacon - Love of Music

Opinions, attitudes and interests of Shake-Speare and Bacon


That Shake-Speare loved music is obvious from his work. "He used music more often and more effectively - more variously - than any other dramatic writer", wrote Peter Levi in his The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, p. 48. Bacon too was a music lover. In his Essay on Masques and Triumphs he enthuses about the musical element in Masques. And Aubrey tells us: "His Lordship would many times have music in the next room [to] where he meditated". In a letter to Robert Cecil in 1595 Bacon wrote: "In music I ever loved easy airs, that go full at all the parts together, and not these strange points of accord and discord". In his Natural History he gives a great variety of experiments touching music. 

Among his comments on music in that work are: "The sweetest and best harmony is when every part or instrument is not heard by itself, but a conflation of them all, which requireth to stand some distance off, even as it is in the mixture of perfumes, or the taking of the smell of several flowers in the air". A comment in the French version (with a parallel in the English version) is: "I am convinced that music heightens any particular feeling that may possess one for the moment. In my own case, when i am feeling happy, music adds to my happiness of mind; and when I am feeling sorrowful or vexed, it makes me yet more so". he thought a musical note "falling from one tone to another" is "delightful" (Compare Twelfth Night 1.1.4):  "That strain again, it had a dying fall"). He suggested that "the division and quavering, which please so much in music, have an agreement with the glittering of light, as the moonbeams playing on a wave" (Remember that the man who wrote these things is alleged by many Stratfordians to have been "prosaic").

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