1> This most recent contribution to an ongoing discussion about how the aural shows up in the written will satisfy scholars looking for a detailed and expansive examination of not only reverberating song, musicology and affect theory, but also silence, cacophony, harmony and discord in the works of William Shakespeare and John Milton. The connection between Shakespeare and Milton, though, is tenuous. While Minear does deploy several examples and makes some interesting observations regarding their relationship, the judicious reader might need more evidence to justify a comparison between these disparate authors.
2> Reverberating Song in Shakespeare and Milton: Language, Memory and Musical Representation begins with an overt textual connection among Shakespeare,
3> Chapter one tackles The Merchant of Venice and the concept of “creeping music” (17). Here Minear argues that Shakespeare portrays musical moments in a way that imitates his language and dramaturgy (17). The chapter opens with a detailed historical discussion about the nature of music in early modern
4> Chapter two deals with “sonic echoes” and their impressions, connecting the ballad with the lyricism of Shakespeare’s words (53, 56). Minear begins this chapter with a discussion of Othello and moves among other plays: Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, The History of King Lear, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It. Echoes, Minear argues, serve as a model for memory. Long after the sound is gone it can be recalled in the mind. The echoing of the baying of the dogs in Titus Andronicus is used to illustrate this point. The chapter ends with an extended examination of the use of sound, music, hollowness, and silence in Othello.
5> Chapter three, “‘Re-speaking Earthly Thunder’: Hamlet’s Sonic Phantoms,” explores how the association between music and the divine changes into an association between music and the ghostly, or otherworldly (89). Minear looks at the relationship among noise, music, and the cacophony of war. In Hamlet, speech “and song, ballad and play bleed into one another” (110). Hamlet is a play in which the characters struggle to fill silence. Silence is perhaps so threatening that even the dead come back to fill it.
6> Chapter four, “Playing Music: Twelfth Night and The Tempest,” is broken up into two distinct parts. Part one looks at Twelfth Night as a play that uses “an irresistible attractiveness of … [a] kind of musical expression” that is “simultaneously mocking and heartbreakingly sincere” (140). It is a play that “relocates music in speech” (131). Minear gives a significant amount of attention to Feste’s performance of “Come Away Death” and the performative nature of singing, which she reminds the reader is always a type of “speaking in the voice of another” (136). Part two looks at The Tempest. Here, Minear argues for the orderly—the sailor’s panic is done in “incantatory” verse (141)—and harmonious nature of the violent storm that opens the play. “The problem with music in The Tempest is not so much that its beautiful concords and affective power can be used to manipulative and even harmful purposes. A larger problem involves the positively weird way that music in the play moves people”—the tendency of music and cacophony to move similarly—demonstrating how The Tempest brings “musica mundane—universal, philosophical harmony—to life” (145). Finally, the chapter ends by pointing out the ways the “musical element of The Tempest quite literally usurps the dramatic” in the final moments of the play (161).
7> Chapter five begins the series of three chapters that touch on the works of
8> Chapter six deals with Milton’s Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and the degree to which it incorporates Shakespeare’s descriptions of music, which are “positioned [in this text] as verbal echoes of musical sounds” (201). In particular, Minear looks at the Lady’s song and how it has the effect of stalling the linear progression of the narrative. This delay occurs when the Spirit and Comus take time to praise the song. Furthermore, the masque imitates a Shakespearean soundscape with its “eerie noises of the wood” (203). The Lady’s song (and its echoes) attempts to reach her brothers, but also exerts a measure of control over her environment by making all reflect (205). Minear sees Masque as a work that sets up
9> Chapter seven, “‘Minims of Nature’: Describing Music in Paradise Lost,” deals with the nature of music in Hell, Paradise, and Heaven in
10> The conclusion to Reverberating Song traces parallels between Paradise Regained and The Tempest. In Paradise Regained, Satan serves as a demonic Ariel (Airy-el, “prince of air”) summoning tables and food, tempting with music and song. Furthermore, Satan defends and promotes “art / and eloquence,” beautiful sounds and words. Minear, however, sees the poem’s emphasis on the importance of the written as
11> Reverberating Song offers a close critical look at the role of sound and music in Shakespeare and Milton. Minear’s methodology includes both historical and textual criticism. Historically she looks at the cultural place of music and sound in the early modern period in