Cover image for Shakespeare's songbook
Shakespeare's songbook
Duffin, Ross W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2004]

Physical Description:
528 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm + 1 audio disc (4 3/4 in.).
The songs -- Appendix I: Ground bass melodies -- Appendix 2: Shakespearean pronunciation -- Source list -- Index of titles, first lines, and refrains -- Index of names and places -- Index of citations -- CD contents.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML80.S5 D85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



Winner of the Claude V. Palisca Award of the American Musicological Society

Shakespeare lovers have long lamented that so few songs in his plays survive with original music; of about sixty song lyrics, only a handful have come down to us with musical settings. For over 150 years, scholars have aspired--without success--to fill that gap. In Shakespeare's Songbook, Ross W. Duffin does just that.

Eight years in the making, Shakespeare's Songbook is a meticulously researched collection of 155 songs--ballads and narratives, drinking songs, love songs, and rounds--that appear in, are quoted in, or alluded to in Shakespeare's plays. Drawing substantially on the unmatched resources of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Duffin brings complete lyrics (many newly recovered) and music notation together for the first time, and in the process sheds new light on Shakespeare's dramatic art. With performances by leading early-music singers and instrumentalists, the accompanying audio CD brings the songbook to life. Shakespeare's Songbook is the perfect gift for lovers of Shakespeare and an invaluable reference for singers, actors, directors, and scholars.

Author Notes

Ross W. Duffin, the Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of the award-winning Shakespeare's Songbook. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this obvious labor of love, Duffin (music, Case Western Reserve Univ.) outlines the historical context for songs used or alluded to in Shakespeare's plays and provides an alphabetical rundown of these pieces (predominantly ballads), with complete verses, suggested tunes, and a discussion of their role in the plays. The author has an affinity for his topic and uses his expertise in medieval and Renaissance musicology to good effect, though the book is geared to general readers with little musical background. A pronunciation guide is especially helpful, and the wide-ranging documentation prompts further exploration. While works of a similar nature dating back to at least the mid-19th century have paired texts with tunes (many written long after Shakespeare's time), this is one of the first to match song texts with tunes contemporary to the plays' original productions. The accompanying CD has engaging and idiomatic performances by renowned early-music specialists (with more verses and other songs to be available at; period engravings and facsimiles add to the charm of this tome. Highly recommended. [For an interview with Duffin, see "The Bard Remastered," p. 97.-Ed.]-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Lib., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In his plays, Shakespeare quoted or mentioned 160 songs and ballads, and Duffin (Case Western Reserve Univ.) has discovered the original musical notation for most of them. He places each example within the context of the drama in which it occurs, and accompanies each with commentary on origins and history. This beautifully assembled volume is a welcome addition to the performance literature and to Shakespearean scholarship. An accompanying CD includes a number of the songs, performed by a well-balanced group of musicians who tastefully unite the assumed period with contemporary vocal styles. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels; all collections. R. Miller Oberlin College