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Barbarian Press
Books Forthcoming

Wood engraving by Edwina Ellis
(from A Christmas Carol, 1984)

Musick in partes
Songs & Poems from Shakespeare’s Plays
Spring 2017

Bordering on the Sublime
Ornamental Typography at the Curwen Press.
Autumn 2018

Musick in partes:
Songs & Poems from Shakespeare’s Plays

Published to mark the Quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death on what was probably his 52nd birthday: 23 April 1616. With notes and glossary, and multiple wood engravings by John Lawrence

Spring 2017

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries positively revelled in music. The sudden development of new instruments and styles of musical composition in the early renaissance had arguably created as profound a shift from the music of the mediaeval period as the second Viennese school of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern in the early twentieth century did from the late Romantic music of Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Wagner. The period from 1550 through Shakespeare’s life and on into the seventeenth century saw hundreds of composers producing songs, lute music, consort music, dance music, and polyphonic choral music, to say nothing of the advent of opera in the works of Peri and Monteverdi in Milan around 1600. The first stirrings of what eventually became the orchestra are discernable in the wide range of instruments—viols, rebecs, hurdy-gurdies, lutes, guitars, citterns, trumpets, cornetts, sackbuts, serpents, recorders, flutes, crumhorns, curtals, shawms, racketts, regals, organs—which were used in multiple combinations in works such as Tielman Susato’s Danserye and Michael Praetorius’ Terpsichore.

Shakespeare’s theatre assumed music to be a natural part of almost any performance. Roughly two thirds of his thirty-eight plays include song texts, and many of those have become established in the canon of lyric poetry in English in their own right. The Elizabethan stage moreover included what was called a ‘minstrels’ gallery’ above the stage, and we know that music was played at dramatic points during performances to create moods or enhance special effects. To give only two examples, in The Tempest ‘Soft music’ is mentioned in a stage direction before the masque in Act 4, and after the reconciliation scene in Pericles a direction calls for ‘Celestial music’—and this is to say nothing of the innumerable ‘sennets,’ sounding trumpets, and martial music which abound. In this 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death it occurred to us to celebrate the music in the plays by way of their songs, and in Musick in partes we are presenting over forty songs and two or three poems from every period of his plays, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594) to The Two Noble Kinsmen (1613).

As has always been our practice, the texts will be presented in the original spellings of the First Folio or Quarto texts, and there will be notes about the poems and a glossary of particularly obscure words. The book will be illustrated with many wood engravings by John Lawrence. Given John’s delightful penchant for tiny thumbnail engravings as well as rich full-page illustrations, we have turned him loose on the manuscript and expect to be as surprised as anyone at what he delivers. John’s work is exuberant and fresh, and we have wanted to work with him ever since we first encountered it nearly fifty years ago. We met him in 1984, and every time we have met since we have agreed that we really ought to do something together. You see that we do, eventually, get to things!

Musick in partes: Songs & Poems from Shakespeare’s Plays will be published in an edition of 110 copies, of which 60 will constitute the Deluxe state, and 50 the Regular, with 10 copies hors commerce. Subscribers’ copies are already reserved.

We had hoped to publish the book before the end of the quatercentenary year in 2016, but circumstances made this impossible. We anticipate publication by the early spring of 2017 – ‘When Birds do sing, /Hey ding a ding, ding.’

DELUXE STATE: 60 COPIES. The text will be set in Poliphilus and Blado, with Duensing and unidentified drop caps for display, in black, red, green, and violet on Zerkall Book White mouldmade paper, with a number of engravings by John Lawrence printed from the wood, and some detailed spots from the larger engravings printed from photopolymer plates. The book will be quarter bound in light green morocco with printed paper boards from printer’s ornaments, contained in a green silk-covered slipcase with a portfolio containing strikes of the wood blocks.
PRICE: C$690.

REGULAR STATE: 50 COPIES. As the Deluxe state, but quarter bound with a green silk spine and printed paper label. Not slipcased.
PRICE: C$485.

5 additional copies of each state, designated hors commerce, are reserved for the use of the press.

Both states are bound by Alanna Simenson at Mad Hatter Bookbinding, Sooke, B.C.

Visit our Ordering page to order this title.