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Part of the Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre book series (PSBMT)


The Prologue introduces the rationale for this book. It explains the parameters of the research and outlines the research questions to be explored, which are: what are the practical working processes within which live and recorded, onstage and offstage music performances have been produced since the inception of the RSC in 1961? What are the consequences of developments and alterations in these processes for creative teams, performers and audiences? How has the development of sound design and the collaboration of sound and music changed the way music and sound signify in performance? Have the functions of theatre music and sound altered as a consequence? Can the vocal sound of performers be excluded from a discussion of sound and music, and if not, where are the limits of the sound world? It then outlines the methods to be used and the structure of the book.


  • Sound World
  • Sound Design
  • Music Theory
  • Popular Musical Theatre
  • Eighteenth Century Practice

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-95222-2_1
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  1. 1.

    Adrian Curtin, writing in 2016, talks of the growing importance of sound design over the last 30 years. Although the job title may have emerged in the 1960s the practice really became significant from the late 1970s onwards.

  2. 2.

    This is a reference to Claudia Gorbman’s book Unheard Melodies in which she makes the case that film scores are designed to influence and manipulate audiences without their presence actually being noticed (1987).

  3. 3.

    For more on the work of Filter Theatre see Roesner (2014) and Curtin (2016).

  4. 4.

    As Van Kampen remarks this work was pioneered in England in the 1960s by the Early Music Movement and the pioneering work of David Munrow, who was a contracted player at the RSC in the 1960s.


  • Curtin, Adrian. ‘Designing Sound for Shakespeare: Connecting past and present’ in John Brown and Stephen di Benedetto (eds), Designer’s Shakespeare. London: Routledge 2016, 152–69.

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  • Lindley, David. Shakespeare and Music. London: Bloomsbury, 2006.

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  • Naylor, Edward. Shakespeare and Music. New York: Da Capo Press and Benjamin Blom, Inc. 1965 [1931].

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  • Roesner, David. Musicality in Theatre: Music as Model, Method and Metaphor. London: Routledge, 2014.

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  • Smith, Bruce R. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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  • Van Kampen, Claire. ‘Music and Aural Texture at Shakespeare’s Globe’ in Carston, Christie and Karim-Cooper, Farah (eds), Shakespeare’s Globe: A theatrical Experiment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, 79–100.

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Taylor, M. (2018). Prologue. In: Theatre Music and Sound at the RSC. Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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