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Staging HarmonyMusic and Religious Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Drama$
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Katherine Steele Brokaw

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501703140

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501703140.001.0001

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Learning to Sing

Learning to Sing

The Plays of Nicholas Udall

(p.86) Chapter 3 Learning to Sing
Staging Harmony

Katherine Steele Brokaw

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the plays of Nicholas Udall. Udall composed reformist plays for Henry VIII and Edward VI before likely writing Ralph Roister Doister and Respublica to be performed at court during the first year of Mary’s reign. It is argued that the music and musical features of Udall’s plays demonstrate the possibility of a hybridized musical liturgy for the new Marian church, one that combines elements of traditional Roman Catholic religion with those of Edward’s evangelical reforms. Only a playwright as cagey and adaptable as Udall could have suggested such a musical–religious compromise. Udall’s caginess—his ability to be oblique, even to dissemble—is represented in the plays themselves. Such shrewdness is also a hallmark of the survival strategies employed by the many people in the mid-Tudor years that chose to adapt to a quick series of confessionally diverse monarchs rather than flee into exile.

Keywords:   plays, Nicholas Udall, Ralph Roister Doister, Respublica, musical liturgy, Marian church

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