Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-vmcqm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-14T09:23:00.360Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

12 - Music and Manly Wit in Seventeenth-Century England: The Case of the Catch

from The Performer as Creator

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2014

Rebecca Herissone
Affiliation:
Head of Music and Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Manchester
Alan Howard
Affiliation:
Lecturer in Music at the University of East Anglia
Get access

Summary

In Act II, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, first performed as the seventeenth century opened, the knights Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek call for wine. Immediately after the arrival of the clown, Feste, Aguecheek asks for a song and his drinking companion a catch. Their merry midnight revels are interrupted by Maria, serving woman to their hostess (who is also Sir Toby's niece), following their performance of the three-voice catch ‘Hold thy peace’. ‘What a catterwalling doe you keepe heere?’, exclaims Maria; ‘If my Ladie haue not call'd vp her Steward Maluolio, and bid him turne you out of doores, neuer trust me.’ The puritanical Malvolio is even more horriied by their acoustical antics. ‘My masters are you mad?’, he asks on his arrival,

Or what are you? Haue you no wit, manners, nor honestie, but to gabble like Tinkers at this time of night? Do yee make an Ale-house of my Ladies house, that ye squeak out your Coziers Catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?

This brief scene, first brought to life approximately a decade before the earliest publication of English catches and over a century ahead of the greatest vogue for such canonical vocal part-songs, already encodes the most important aspects of the genre. As demonstrated by Shakespeare's three performers, the singing of catches was a form of participatory leisure entertainment for males of equal voice.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×