Cat and the Fiddle: Images of Musical Humour from the Middle Ages to Modern Times

Overview

In The Cat and the Fiddle, Jeremy Barlow explores 700 years of musical humor, a topsy-turvy world in which monkeys fiddle and pigs play the bagpipes. It is a vision of chaos and devilry as depicted in a variety of sources—the illuminated borders of medieval manuscripts, eighteenth-century prints of urban life, and even the illustrations of children's books.

Barlow reveals the shifting meanings behind such images, as they were often symptomatic of larger cultural trend such as ...

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Overview

In The Cat and the Fiddle, Jeremy Barlow explores 700 years of musical humor, a topsy-turvy world in which monkeys fiddle and pigs play the bagpipes. It is a vision of chaos and devilry as depicted in a variety of sources—the illuminated borders of medieval manuscripts, eighteenth-century prints of urban life, and even the illustrations of children's books.

Barlow reveals the shifting meanings behind such images, as they were often symptomatic of larger cultural trend such as rapid industrialization and urbanization, an emerging class system, and the moral movements of the late nineteenth century. As he compellingly argues, the development of the printing press, the popular spectacle of public concerts, and the rise of new political uses for music all played a critical role in musical history and were distinctly evident in images of musical humor.

The archives of Oxford's Bodleian Library provided a rich supply of previously unpublished material for Barlow's research. With full-color images throughout, The Cat and the Fiddle will be a delight for scholars of art and political history as well as lovers of music everywhere.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851243006
  • Publisher: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  • Publication date: 1/15/2007
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Barlow is a writer, performer, and broadcaster whose studies have focused on English popular music and dance music from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. He is the author of The Cat and the Fiddle: Images of Musical Humour from the Middle Ages to Modern Times.

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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Marginal Musicians

2. Animal Amusements

3. Carnival, Coxcombs, and Commedia

4. Social Satire

5. Class Contrasts

6. Mind your Manners

7. Victorian Ventures

8. Soulful Soloists

Notes

Works Consulted

List of Illustrations and Sources

Glossary of Obsolete Instruments

Index

Jeremy Barlow has made a special study of English popular and dance music from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. His group, the Broadside Band, has won an Edison award, and his many broadcasts include a recent BBC Radio 4 series on the history of social dance.

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