Elway Bevin's A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke begins with rudimentary instruction on consonance, dissonance and proportions but quickly turns to a presentation of examples of plainsong-based canonic writing of increasing complexity and remarkable diversity. Bevin's book was well known in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was quoted or commented upon by Christopher Simpson, Henry Purcell, Charles Burney, John Hawkins and Augustus Kollmann. In the introduction to this modern edition of the work, the first edition to appear since the original was published in 1631, Denis Collins establishes the great importance of A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke in the history of canon. He assesses Bevin's relationship to English theories of canon and to manuscript collections of plainsong canons from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and he proposes a typology for canonic processes and structures which is applied in the discussion of Bevin's canons.
’… [the book] will give its readers new insights into English musicians' thinking and activity during Bevin's lifetime.’ The Consort ’… Collins's critical edition of Bevin's treatise is excellent and provides readers with insight into English musicians' thinking and activities during the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century.’ Renaissance Quarterly
Contents: Series editor's preface; Part I Introduction: Elway Bevin and canon in England: Background to Bevin; An overview of the typology of canons; English theories of canon before Bevin; Collections of plainsong canons; The contents of A Briefe and Short Instruction ; English theories of canon after Bevin; Part II Elway Bevin A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke: Editorial note; Edition; Notes. Bibliography; Index.
The purpose of this series is to provide critical editions of music theory in Britain (primarily England, but Scotland, Ireland and Wales also) from 1500 to 1700. By 'theory' is meant all sorts of writing about music, from textbooks aimed at the beginner to treatises written for a more sophisticated audience. These foundational texts have immense value in revealing attitudes, ways of thinking and even vocabulary crucial for understanding and analysing music. They reveal beliefs about the power of music, its function in society and its role in education, and they furnish valuable information about performance practice and about the context of performance. They are a window into musical culture every bit as important as the music itself.
The editions in this series present the text in its original form. That is, they retain original spelling, capitalization and punctuation, as well as certain salient features of the type, for example, the choice of font. A textual commentary in each volume offers an explication of difficult or unfamiliar terminology as well as suggested corrections of printing errors; the introduction situates the work and its author in a larger historical context.
Jessie Ann Owens is assisted on the series by Series Assistant Editor, Minji Kim.