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Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher

Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher

Tessa Murray
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 285
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  • Book Info
    Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher
    Book Description:

    The Renaissance composer and organist Thomas Morley (c.1557-1602) is best known as a leading member of the English Madrigal School, but he also built a significant business as a music publisher. This book looks at Morley's pioneering contribution to music publishing in England, inspired by an established music printing culture in continental Europe. A student of William Byrd, Morley had a conventional education and early career as a cathedral musician both in Norwich and at St Paul's cathedral. Morley lived amongst the traders, artisans and gentry of England's major cities at a time when a market for recreational music was beginning to emerge. His entrepreneurial drive combined with an astute assessment of his market resulted in a successful and influential publishing business. The turning point came with a visit to the Low Countries in 1591, which gave him the opportunity to see a thriving music print publication business at first hand. Contemporary records provide a detailed picture of the processes involved in early modern music publishing and enable the construction of a financial model of Morley's business. Morley died too young to reap the full rewards of his enterprise, but his success inspired the publication by his contemporaries of a significant corpus of readily available recreational music for the public. Critical to Morley's success was his identification of the sort of music, notably the Italianate lighter style of madrigal, that would appeal to amateur musicians. Surviving copies of the original prints show that this music continued to be used for several generations: new editions in modern notation started to appear from the mid eighteenth century onwards, suggesting that Morley truly had the measure of the market for recreational music. I>Thomas Morley: Elizabethan Music Publisher will be of particular interest to scholars and students of renaissance music, as well as the history of music publishing and print. Tessa Murray is an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-404-8
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VII)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. VIII-VIII)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. IX-X)
  5. Preface
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. XV-XV)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. XVI-XVI)
  8. Editorial conventions
    (pp. XVII-XVIII)
  9. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    Employment opportunities for musicians in sixteenth-century England were limited to performing and teaching, either in one of the large religious establishments – the cathedrals and the Chapel Royal – or as a court or household musician. There were also a few posts for musicians in towns and cities that maintained small groups of instrumentalists, or waits, for civic occasions. A performer might be required to compose or arrange music as well as to perform it, but this was viewed as part of his job, attracting at best a smallex gratiagift from his patron. Musicians sometimes also took on additional work,...

  10. CHAPTER 1 Childhood and Early Career
    (pp. 3-28)

    Thus, in hisA Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, Thomas Morley paints a picture of an educated, urban society in which music is both a source of entertainment and a topic for discussion, and in which musical knowledge is increasingly seen as a necessary accomplishment of an educated person. In the 1590s Thomas Morley set out to meet the needs of such aspiring urban dwellers, and, in so doing, to establish an independent living for himself as a composer, arranger, editor, publisher and printer. With an entrepreneurial father as a role-model and an upbringing in England’s two largest...

  11. CHAPTER 2 From Church Musician to Entrepreneur
    (pp. 29-47)

    On 6 July 1588 Morley was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Music at Oxford University, but this does not mean that he attended the university as a student.¹ The degree was awarded on the basis of two tests: the candidate was required to demonstrate that he had studied and practised music for at least seven years; and he had to compose a five-part vocal piece and have it performed in Oxford. Three days’ notice of the performance was required. The process was completed by the presentation of the candidate in Congregation.² There would have been no requirement for...

  12. CHAPTER 3 The Market for Recreational Music
    (pp. 48-68)

    In September 1591, when Thomas Morley was in the Low Countries, he could have counted on the fingers of one hand the number of publications of music of a not entirely devotional nature that had been printed in England during the previous decade, all of them in the last four years.¹ To these could be added Byrd’s two new volumes of motets.² If he visited the Phalèse and Plantin shops in the Kammenstraat in Antwerp, he would have seen volumes of chansons and motets produced by Phalèse, lute books, anthologies of Italian madrigals, some single-composer volumes of music by Italians,...

  13. CHAPTER 4 The Establishment of Music Printing in London
    (pp. 69-84)

    In 1557, when the Guild of Stationers was incorporated as the Stationers’ Company, it took on the regulation of printing in London and, in practice, the whole of England. Thereafter, a printer could, if he wished, register the details of a work he intended to print, known as his ‘copy’, with the Company. Registration with the Stationers’ Company was not obligatory, but it prevented other stationers from printing the work.¹ Under the charter of the Stationers’ Company, the right of registration was not originally restricted to its own members, but extended also to freemen of other City guilds and associates...

  14. CHAPTER 5 Morley’s Monopoly
    (pp. 85-97)

    In contrast to the largely informal lobbying required in order to obtain a position at court, the process for obtaining a royal privilege, or monopoly, was well defined. It comprised a number of steps, starting with a petition addressed to the queen, the Privy Council or one of the Secretaries of State, which was then referred to the Attorney General or Solicitor General for a legal opinion. If it was approved, an initial bill was prepared for the queen’s signature, followed by a bill of Privy Signet, a writ of Privy Seal and letters patent issued under the Great Seal....

  15. CHAPTER 6 Morley’s Publishing Business
    (pp. 98-109)

    In his letter to Sir Robert Cecil in July 1598, Thomas Morley claimed that he had made little money from publishing his music in print:

    as for printinge of songes uppon my creditt I can avoutche it forsuche thingis as I have haud imprinted of myne owne workes I have hade so smalle beneffitt of them, that the bookes which I dedicattid to yourhonnore, the bountiouse reward of yourhonore to me, was more worthe to me, then anny book or bookes what so ever.¹

    Although he may well have played down the value of his publishing activities...

  16. CHAPTER 7 Morley’s Printing Business
    (pp. 110-123)

    The apparent failure, in 1599, of Morley’s attempt to include the psalter within the scope of his monopoly was a significant blow to his plans, as it would have brought in far more revenue, just in monopoly fees, than anything else that he might have contemplated undertaking in the sphere of music publishing. He was, however, engaged in a further new enterprise, which probably also depended crucially for its success on the psalter. That year, he and William Barley entered into a business arrangement together and set up a printing operation at Little St Helens in Bishopsgate.

    There are no...

  17. CHAPTER 8 Morley and the Madrigal
    (pp. 124-145)

    This chapter and the next examine in more detail how Morley responded to market needs through his choice of music for his customers. To support this discussion information is provided in Appendix 5 for each of his publications, comprising both a bibliographical description of the work as a whole and a table of its contents which includes sufficient analysis to place the volume in a wider context.

    The madrigal and its lighter related forms, particularly the villanella and then the canzonetta, were the mainstays of music publishing in sixteenth-century Italy. Following Petrucci’s early frottola collections, madrigal printing blossomed in the...

  18. CHAPTER 9 Morley’s Other Publications
    (pp. 146-162)

    Having thoroughly established a market for English madrigals, Thomas Morley started to turn his attention to other genres that might appeal to his customers for recreational music, specifically instrumental ensemble music and the English lute ayre. To these he added a comprehensive self-instruction manual for those who wanted to acquire or improve their musical skills.

    Morley published hisFirst Booke of Ayres or Little Short Songs, comprising twenty-one songs, scored for voice, lute and bass viol, plus two instrumental pieces, in 1600. Three years earlier, in 1597, John Dowland had produced hisFirst Booke of Songesin four parts with...

  19. CHAPTER 10 Music Publishing after Morley
    (pp. 163-176)

    With his madrigal collections, his instrumental music, his ayres and hisA Plaine and Easie IntroductionMorley established a pattern for music printing for the next twenty years. Nearly 170 editions and reissues of music (excluding simple psalm settings) and music tutors suitable for domestic use appeared in print in the period from 1588 to 1639, with a marked acceleration from the mid-1590s, when Morley produced his madrigal publications and Byrd’s monopoly came to an end. By 1620, production was tailing off significantly, with an average of less than one publication of music a year from 1621 to 1639, when...

  20. CHAPTER 11 Morley’s Legacy
    (pp. 177-188)

    Although primarily a sales pitch for his own book,A Briefe Discourse, his words indicate a strong contemporary respect for Morley’s achievements. Morley’sIntroductionremained in use long after its publication. Thus, while Roger North, writing in the early eighteenth century, found Morley’s dialogue style hard-going and considered the work to be ‘stuft with abundance of impertinences, and also with matters, in our practise, wholly obsolete’,² he had nevertheless used it when young:

    I also procured Morley’sIntroduction; which books [Simpson’sDivision-Violist(1667) andCompendium of Practical Musick(1659); Charles Butler’sThe Principles of Musik(1636)] together with constant playing...

  21. APPENDIX 1 Dedicatees of Thomas Morley’s Music Publications
    (pp. 189-191)
  22. APPENDIX 2 Thomas Morley’s Music Printing Patent
    (pp. 192-193)
  23. APPENDIX 3 Conjectural Lifetime Income for Morley from Publishing his Works
    (pp. 194-195)
  24. APPENDIX 4 Little Saint Helens Publications
    (pp. 196-202)
  25. APPENDIX 5 Thomas Morley’s Publications
    (pp. 203-232)
  26. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-248)
  27. Index
    (pp. 249-266)
  28. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-269)