1st Edition

A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song by William Bathe

Edited By Kevin C. Karnes Copyright 2005

    Although unjustly neglected by modern writers, William Bathe’s contributions to music pedagogy in late sixteenth-century England were profound. Bathe’s A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song (1596) not only includes the first explication of a four-syllable, non-hexachordal solmization method published by an English writer (a system similar to that which would become the standard in England during the seventeenth century) but also outlines a combinatorial method for composing canons that is remarkably forward-looking in both conception and design. In addition to providing the first modern edition of Bathe’s treatise, the volume examines the complicated compilation and publication histories of the book, the historical and theoretical foundations of Bathe’s contributions, and the relationship between the 1596 book and Bathe’s 1584 treatise A Briefe Introduction to the True Arte of Musicke (the extant text of which is included as an appendix).

    Contents: Part I Bathe's A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song: History, Context, Significance: Towards a history of Bathe's treatise; The contents: a reassessment; Conclusion: Bathe's uncertain legacy. Part II William Bathe, A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song: Editorial note, Edition. Part III Bathe's A Briefe Introduction to the True Arte of Musicke: The Extant Text: Andrew Melville's commonplace book (University of Aberdeen MS 28) and its copy of Bathe's 1548 treatise; Relationship between the treatises; Editorial note; Transcription. Bibliography; Index.


    Kevin C. Karnes

    ’...Kevin C. Karnes's new critical edition of Bathe's two treatises provides a welcome addition to Ashgate's new series 'Music Theory in Britain, 1500-1700: Critical Editions'... it is in Karnes's thorough explications of Bathe's writing, and in his correction of Bathe's errors - both in the Introduction and in the notes to the edition itself, in which at times he virtually provides translations - that he makes perhaps his most valuable editorial contribution to the volume, one that will make future research relating to Bathe considerably easier... the texts of the two treatises themselves are reproduced meticulously...and therefore provide an accurate and reliable reading of Bathe's work. The inclusion of Karnes's thoughtful and perceptive commentary and notes on Bathe's pitch system...and his explanation of the numerical method for composing two-part canons, makes interpretation of Bathe's contribution to late sixteenth-century British theory considerably less onerous than it has been until now.' Music and Letters