Bass Viol
Bass Viol

This morning, thursday I’ve decided to lighten up from the Puritan books and what I’ve found are their exact Opposite! Music and Dance. Music books were extremely popular in England and yet today they are scarce, perhaps it is because they were considered ‘down market’ and used until the point of ultimate fatigue (fell apart) or passed along until they went of style and then disposed of , like 8 track tapes?  In  either case the two books I have described below are both in great condition, and really lovely copies.

89g John Playford 1623 1686/7, Henry Purcell. 1659-1695

An introduction to the skill of musick : in three books: by John Playford. Containing I. The Grounds and Principles of Musick, according to the Gamut: In the most Easy Method, for Young Practitioners. II. Instructions and Lessons for the Treble Tenor, and Bass-Viols; and also for the Treble-Violin. III. The Art of Descant, or composing Music in Parts: Made very Plaion and Easie by the Late Henry Purcell. 

London, Printed by William Pearson, for John and Ben. Sprint … 1718.                          $2,900

Octavo, 6 X 4 inches.  The seventeenth edition. Corrected, and done on the new-ty d note.
A-M8  (A1 , frontispiece; M8 , advertisements both present!)

 There are engraved  and woodcut musical notation, two letterpress engravings. (of a Bass-Viol and a Treble-Violin) This copy is bound in full contemporary calf, the front board has become detached but is present.
“A pastoral elegy on the death of Mr. John Playford. By N. Tate”: verso of 8th prelim. leaf. ”The order of performing the divine service in cathedrals, & collegiate chappels”: p. 53-60.
Purcell’s legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no other native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar.

Playford, bookseller, publisher, and member of the Stationers’ Company,  published books on music theory, instruction books for several instruments, and psalters with tunes for singing in churches. He is perhaps best known today for his publication of The English Dancing Master in 1651, during the period of the Puritan-dominated Commonwealth (later editions were known as ‘The Dancing Master’). This work contains both the music and instructions for English country dances. This came about after Playford, working as a war correspondent, was captured by Cromwell’s men and told that, if he valued his freedom (as a sympathiser with the King), he might consider a change of career. Although many of the tunes in the book are attributed to him today, he probably did not write any of them. Most were popular melodies that had existed for years.

 These were quavers or semiquavers connected in pairs or series by one or two horizontal strokes at the end of their tails, the last note of the group retaining in the early examples the characteristic up-stroke. Hawkins observes that the Dutch printers were the first to follow the lead in this detail. In 1665 he caused every semibreve to be barred in the dance tunes; in 1672 he began engraving on copper plates. Generally, however, Playford clung to old methods; he recommended the use of lute tablature to ordinary violin players; and he resisted, in an earnest letter of remonstrance (1673), Thomas Salmon’s proposals for a readjustment of clefs.

Playford’s printers were: Thomas Harper, 1648 1652; William Godbid, 1658 1678; Ann Godbid and her partner, John Playford the younger, 1679 1683; John Playford alone, 1684-1685








Wit & Mirth

253g Playford, Henry. 1657-1706?
Wit and mirth or, Pills to purge melancholy: Being a collection of the best merry ballads and songs, old and new. Fitted to all humours, having each their proper tune for either voice, or instrument: many of the songs being new sett. The 4th edition. To which is also added, a collection of excellent poems. Volumes I- III
London: printed by William Pearson, and sold by John Young, musical-instrument seller at the Dolphin and Crown in St. Pauls Church-Yard,1714- 1719                                 $2,500

Three Octavo Volumes.,6.25 X 3.75 .  Fourth edition, .but the first edition with printed music.   Bound  in three matching polished calf bindings by Pratt.  All three volumes are crisp and clean these are very nice copies.

Wit and Mirth: Or Pills to Purge Melancholy is the title of a large collection of songs by Thomas d’Urfey, published between 1698 and 1720, which in its final, six-volume edition held over 1,000 songs and poems.
 The collection started as a single book compiled and published by Henry Playford who had succeeded his father John Playford as the leading music publisher of the period. Over the next two decades, Pills went through various editions and expanded into five volumes; in 1719 Thomas D’Urfey reordered and added to the work to produce a new edition (also in 5 volumes) with the title Songs Compleat, Pleasant and Divertive, published by Jacob Tonson. Volumes I and II now consisted entirely of songs (words, not tunes) by D’Urfey. The edition sold out quickly and in the second printing D’Urfey reverted to the Pills title. He added Volume 6 in 1720. The title itself may derive from a 1599 pamphlet A Pil to Purge Melancholie..l
           Thomas D’Urfey was one of the most prolific and popular poets and musicians of his age, famous for his comic skills. He entertained five monarchs and wrote over 32 plays and 500 songs. He published the several- volume work, Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, which included his songs and others as well as older airs and ballads.   D’Urfey began work as a scrivener’s apprentice. He turned almost immediately from that occupation to entertainment. His first play, The Siege of Memphis was staged in September 1676 and was a failure. However, in November 1676 he turned his efforts to comedy. Madam Fickle was produced at the Dorset Garden Theatre. Charles II and the Duke of Ormonde attended and Ormonde presented D’Urfey to the king. Despite a distinct stutter “except when singing or swearing” and a decidedly unhandsome appearance, Thomas D’Urfey became an intimate of Charles.(1) His voice and his talent for composing the sort of witty songs Charles enjoyed, along with his “good natured willingness to be the butt of a jest as much as the author of one” (2) made him nearly a court jester as well as singer and songwriter for Charles. Except for a brief period in 1689 when he was a singing teacher at a girls school he served each succeeding monarch and many wealthy patrons.
          D’Urfey’s songs were of three types: political songs, court songs and country songs. His political songs invariably celebrated the monarch – from Stuart to Hanover. He wrote numerous political satires. His country songs were coarse and popular, dealing with common folk and their relationships. His words were set to music by Henry Pucell, Dr. John Blow, John Eccles and others – nearly forty composers in all. His songs were often labelled as vulgar – not without reason. One of his popular songs was The Fart; Famous for its Satyrical Humour in the Reign of Queen Anne. His musical reputation was one of carelessness, and his music did not enjoy a great reputation. D’Urfey did not deny it but stated that “irregularities disappear when his songs are sung.”
           D’Urfey was also well aware that his music was looked down upon. “The Town may da-da-damn me for a poet,” he said, “but they si-si-sing my Songs for all that.” (4) A friend of essayists Richard Steele and Joseph Adidson, D’Urfey often quarrelled with other poets of the time and was the subject of many less than flattering verses. His play Love for Money was attacked in a clever pamphlet Wit for Money: Or, Poet Stutterer. He was ridiculed for his pretensions. Despite a lack of funds he insisted upon being accompanied by a page and in 1683 added the apostrophe to his name to promote his association with aristocracy. An amusing eleven verse poem was printed after Durfy changed the spelling of his name to D’Urfey. In 1689 he fought a duel with a musician named Bell. Tom Brown wrote of the duel: Betwixt them there happen’d a horrible Clutter, Bell set up the loud Pipes, and Durfey did splutter. Draw, Bell, wer’t thou Dragon, I’ll spoil they soft Note, Thy squeaking, said t’other, for I’ll cut thy Throat. With a Scratch on the Finger the Duel’s dispatch’d, Thy Clineas (Oh Sidney!) was never so match’d. (4) Thomas D’Urfey’s music was the rage among the common people. Pope, in a letter of 1710 wrote: “Dares any Man speak against him who has given so many Men to eat? So may it be said of Mr. Durfey to his Detractors: What? Dares any one despise him, who has made so many Men drink? Alas, Sir! This is a Glory which neither you nor I must ever pretend to.”
(5) (1)Day, 6 (2)Ibid., 6 (3)Ibid.,39 (4)Ibid.,30 (5)Ibid.,30 (6)Ibid., 28 Sources The World’s Best Music: Famous Songs and Those Who Made Them, The University Society, New York, 1902
”D’Urfey, Thomas” Encyclope dia Britannica Online. [Accessed 20 July 2012]. And The Songs of Thomas D’Urfey, Cyrus Lawrence Day, Havard University Press, Cambridge, 1933.
Day and Murrie,English song-books, 1651-1702, and their publishers
Wit & Mirth Bindings
Wit & Mirth Bindings

In my current Inventory, there are a few more books with ‘songs” but they are without musical notation, feel free to ask about them