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Musical Creativity in Restoration England

After a six figure award, the Arts and Humanities Research Council were able to run a project entitled 'Musical Creativity in Restoration England'.

In December 2005, the Arts and Humanities Research Council made an award of £198,284, within the Research Grants scheme, for a project entitled 'Musical Creativity in Restoration England', which was hosted by the University of Manchester, under the direction of Rebecca Herissone, Professor of Musicology within the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures.

The project, which ran from September 2006 to May 2010, comprised the first systematic investigation of professional musical creativity in Restoration England. It had three main strands:

Major study

The research team undertook extensive and detailed analytical study of the primary sources of English music (manuscripts and prints) from the period c. 1660 to 1715, within the social and cultural contexts in which they were produced, considering three main research questions:

  1. How can surviving primary sources help us to understand concepts of musical creativity in the period? 
  2. How should the purposes for which music was created - relating to issues such as patronage, commercial markets and religious conviction - inform our knowledge of musical composition and the creative process in the Restoration? 
  3. How do the circumstances in which music was recorded and transmitted, and the use of different formats and media, influence musical creativity in the period?

The project aimed to establish a framework within which musical creativity in the Restoration period can be understood in modern times, to develop terms that describe the creative processes appropriately, and to interpret the creative relationships between composition, notation, performance and improvisation in Restoration music produced within professional contexts. Rebecca Herissone’s monograph, Musical Creativity in Restoration England, reflecting the main research outcomes of the project, is published by Cambridge University Press.

Musical Creativity in Restoration England: Appendix and accompanying files

From here you can download the Appendix to Rebecca Herissone's monograph Musical Creativity in Restoration England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), along with its two accompanying files, which comprise the Appendix's bibliography and a list of the abbreviations used in the main document. 

The Appendix is a catalogue of the Restoration music manuscripts that formed the main corpus of research materials for the book. While it has primarily been designed to provide context for the book's investigation of musical creativity, it is also intended to be an ongoing research tool for scholars and editors working in the field. Thus, although the majority of the sources included here have been consulted for the study, the catalogue has been broadened to include manuscripts peripheral to the project in order to make it a more useful resource for future research. Further explanation of the criteria for inclusion in the catalogue is given at the beginning of the catalogue.

Comments on, corrections and potential additions to the catalogue are very welcome and can be emailed to Rebecca using the email address below:

Download the documents below:

International symposium

In September 2008, Manchester hosted a two-day international symposium, 'Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England', which was designed to allow exploration of some of the interdisciplinary elements of the project. The principal aim was to situate musical composition within the broader framework of what we would understand as creative activity in seventeenth-century England. It brought together scholars working in cultural studies, print culture and the history of ideas, and historians of art, architecture, theatre, literature and music.

The keynote paper was given by Prof. James Winn, William Fairfield Warren Professor of English and Director of the Boston University Center for the Humanities; invited papers were also given by Prof. Linda Austern, Associate Professor of Musicology at Northwestern University, Prof. Amanda Eubanks Winkler, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University, and Prof. Andrew Walkling, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Early Modern Studies at Binghamton University.

A selection of twelve essays developed from the twenty papers given at the conference, Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England, co-edited by Rebecca Herissone and Alan Howard, is published by Boydell and Brewer.

Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England: Music audio examples

From here you can stream the audio examples used in Chapter 2 of Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2013), James Winn’s ‘Creativity on Several Occasions’.

  • Example 2.1: Henry Purcell, Fantazia 7, bb. 1–26; London, British Library, Add. MS 30930, fol. 64r. Performance: Henry Purcell, Complete Fantasies for Viols, Phantasm (Simax, B00002642R, 2008). Used by permission.

  • Example 2.2: Henry Purcell, From Hardy Climes, bb. 41–79; London, British Library R.M. MS 20.h.8, fol. 206v. Performance: Paul Guttry, bass; Peter Sykes, harpsichord; Reinmar Seidler, cello. 

  • Example 2.3: John Blow, ‘They encourage themselves in mischief’, Hear my Voice, O God, bb. 168–85; London, British Library, Add. MS 47845, fol. 20. Performance: Paul Guttry, bass; Peter Sykes, organ; Reinmar Seidler, cello.

PhD project

The project included a three-year PhD studentship, held by Stephanie Carter, to support research for a dissertation entitled 'Music publishing and compositional activity in England, 1650-1700'. Stephanie’s PhD, which was awarded in 2011, focused on the flourishing music-publishing industry in the period from 1650 - seen particularly (but not exclusively) through the work of the Playford family - and its relationship to and influence on the activities of professional musicians.

The study investigates: to what extent commercial markets may have determined compositional activities, the genres of music produced and the instruments used; how publication (including posthumous publication) related to the image and status of the composer; and the interaction between public music-making (particularly in the theatre), compositional activity and music publishing. Her completed thesis can be downloaded from Manchester eScholar.

Research Team

Project Director: Rebecca Herissone 

Rebecca is Senior Lecturer in Musicology and Head of Music at the University of Manchester, and a co-editor of Music & Letters. She is the author of Music Theory in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2000) and ‘To Fill, Forbear, or Adorne’: The Organ Accompaniment of Restoration Sacred Music (Ashgate, 2006). Her article on the scoring of Purcell’s Come ye Sons of Art won the Westrup Prize for 2007, and she has also written extensively on approaches to composition in late seventeenth-century English music.

Research Associate: Alan Howard 

Alan Howard studied music at Selwyn College, Cambridge to Master's level, moving to King's College, London in order to pursue doctoral studies. His thesis, 'Purcell and the Poetics of Artifice: Compositional Strategies in the Fantasias and Sonatas', explored the potential of contrapuntal techniques to provide analytical insight into Purcell's creative process. After completing his work as research associate on the project, Alan moved to a lectureship at the University of East Anglia.

PhD Studentship Holder: Stephanie Carter

Stephanie gained a first class BMus degree at the University of Hull, and was awarded the Special Prize in Music for her contribution to the department. She then continued at Hull under the supervision of Dr Graham Sadler, being awarded a distinction for an MMus for a critical edition of various works by the seventeenth-century French composer Étienne Moulinié. She was awarded a PGCE by the University of Bristol before coming to Manchester. Since completing her PhD she has become Learning Officer for the Old Newcastle Project.