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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday Regency: Music

I was looking for Regency music online but found none. Admittedly, I didn't do a long search or search very hard. What I did find was this very interesting bit from Jane Austen's World:

Purchasing music sheets was expensive during the Regency era. People would loan sheet music to each other,which they would then copy into notebooks. While Austen did not write the lyrics she sang, she did choose which music she wanted to play. After borrowing a piece, she painstakingly copied it into a notebook with pre-ruled paper, or assembled the pieces she purchased into albums. Today, The Chawton House Trust owns eight volumes of Jane Austen’s collection of sheet music, two of which were largely written in Jane’s hand. A third volume was also copied by someone’s hand, and “five volumes contain printed music of songs, keyboard works, and chamber music from a variety of sources.” – (The Gift of Music )

About half of the music in Jane’s notebooks are for vocals, or folk songs that tell stories. A few are so comic and fun that it is logical that the author of Pride and Prejudice and The History of England would be attracted to them. Charles Dibdin a composer and performer much in the vein of Benny Hill, wrote “The Joys of the Country,” which Jane copied by hand. He also wrote more serious, sentimental, and patriotic songs, supporting the fact that Jane’s taste was eclectic. She copied out the Marseillaise as The Marseilles March, and owned 56 Scottish songs, like “O Waly Waly”. Jane compiled more than the eight music books that reside at the Chawton House Trust, but the additional books, once studied by scholars in the 1970s and 1980s, are no longer available for study. (- I burn with contempt for my foes – Jane Austen Music Collections .)

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