chapter  8
Musical community in early modern theatre
Pages 15

I Music was pervasive in early modern society. Christopher Marsh’s detailed and authoritative book plots, with minute attention to the archive, the variety of ways in which music was experienced in the period. He writes:

Music was most commonly experienced socially, and its hearers were automatically defined as some sort of a collectivity merely through their physical positioning within a shared auditory field. The role of music as a form of social communion has been well explored by philosophers and ethnomusicologists, and this dimension of music’s power can perhaps be best explained in terms of its ability to generate similar and simultaneous feelings in a range of listeners. . . . In the early modern age, the cosmological assumptions that surrounded music perhaps meant that its power to define groups and communities was experienced with particular intensity.2