This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's key themes. This book aims to recover the multiplicity of ideas about music in Renaissance England, arguing that Shakespeare is extremely skeptical about the claims to authority made on their behalf. It documents the ways in which Shakespeare denaturalizes his culture's presumptions about music, both in the text of the plays and in their musical performances. It argues that the plays of Shakespeare reveal connections between theories of music and specific ideological ends. Throughout, the book presents examples that throw into relief the ideological and cultural presumptions behind theories of music. Rather than approach music in Shakespeare's plays as a code to be deciphered, the book examines the ideological implications of musical codes themselves.
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