Music written for productions of Macbeth which included the songs and dances.
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Music for the dance performed by twelve witches in a masque staged by Ben Jonson in February 1609. Printed by Robert Dowland in 1610, in a collection of practice pieces for the lute (STC 7100). Printed again by Cutts (1959, no. 7) and attributed by him to Robert Johnson. It is suggested that the same music may have been used in The Witch (and subsequently in Macbeth).
Music for the song sung by Isabella in Act II, scene 1, of The Witch. Printed by Cutts (1959, no. 5), from a contemporary manuscript, and attributed by him to Robert Johnson.
Music written for a song in The Witch, subsequently transplanted into a production of Macbeth. Printed by Cutts (1959, no. 6), from a contemporary manuscript, and attributed by him to Robert Johnson.
The same music, rather differently arranged (Cutts 1959, no. 6a).
A piece called ‘Witches’ Dance’. Printed by Cutts (1959, no. 8), who suggests that it may have been written by Robert Johnson for the same production of Macbeth.
Another piece called ‘Witches’ Dance’ (Cutts 1959, no. 8a), the last section of which is nearly the same as that of the previous piece.
First published in 1666, in a collection of pieces for the cithren (Wing P2491). The same tune appears in some other books published by Playford, where it is called either ‘The Dance in the Play of Macbeth’ or just ‘Mackbeth’. In one of these books, perhaps first published in 1669 (though the earliest edition that I have seen is dated 1675 (Wing G1874B)), the tune is credited to ‘M.L.’, i.e. Matthew Locke. It seems tolerably certain, therefore, that this piece is a fragment of the music written by Locke for Sir William Davenant’s production of Macbeth.
Apparently published in 1669, in a collection of pieces for the violin to which Playford gave the title Apollo’s Banquet. (It does definitely occur in at least one edition of the book, though not in any of the editions that I have seen.) There is no contemporary evidence associating this dance-tune with any particular witches, nor with any particular composer.
The opera Dido and Aeneas – words by Nahum Tate, music by Henry Purcell – seems to have been performed (but perhaps not first performed) in 1688. It has this much in common with Macbeth, that the plot is driven by the malevolence of witches. In the third and last act, as events move towards an unhappy ending, the witches celebrate with a dance; and this is Purcell’s idea of some suitable music.
An edition of the music used in eighteenth-century productions of Macbeth was published by John Johnston in 1770 – the date was determined by Moore (1961:27n12) – and dedicated by him to David Garrick. The score had been ‘revised & corrected’ for him by William Boyce. The following files are all transcribed from that edition. I have had to set the tempos myself; I have tried to correct a few small mistakes made by Johnston’s engraver; but otherwise I have interfered as little as possible. Mainly I just reproduce the instrumental parts; where the orchestra falls silent I have used some woodwind to sketch in the vocal parts. A songsheet is provided, for anyone who wants to join in.
Music for the extravaganza at the end of Act II.
Music for the extravaganza at the end of Act III.
Music for Act IV, scene 1. Johnston has these four pieces of music for Act IV, but Garrick seems only to have used the ‘Furies’ Dance’. The song ‘Black spirits’ was included in Kemble’s production in 1794, and (so it seems) in all subsequent productions, at least until the 1850s.
This is a songsheet adapted to the published score; it is not a critical edition. There are large variations in the wording of these songs, but I have not yet got round to working them out in detail.
Notes on the songs and dances performed by the witches in different versions of Macbeth, and on the music written for them.