Rattling Soundscapes of Witch Drama and the New World
“Rattling Soundscapes of Witch Drama and the New World” analyzes the important role of the rattle and maraca in ritual ceremonies practiced by various indigenous peoples of the New World during the Renaissance. It argues that travelers to the New World, including John Smith and Jean de Léry, perceived the sound of the rattle as unintelligible noise, and thus, a sonic indicator of the demonic. Both witches and peoples of Brazil and Virginia were described as producing nonmusical, disordered sounds through their “howling” voices and by shaking “hollow” rattles while dancing in a circle. Due to these associations in the English imagination, the rattle was employed in the staging of a witch séance as the antimasque to Ben Jonson’s Masque of Queens.