Musical Transformations of the City Soundscape: King James I’s Entry into London in 1604

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The staging of civic pageantry dramatically altered the soundscape of a city, replacing everyday sounds of daily business with cheering crowds, bells, artillery, music, and song. The aural experience of this altered soundscape is invariably lost and even description of the noises and music is minimalistic. Nevertheless, the potential meanings of such celebratory soundscapes often can be reconstructed. In the case of King James I’s entry into London in 1604, the musical metamorphosis of the city soundscape was ascribed particular meaning within both the pageants and the published accounts. The transformative power of monarchy to banish unrest and vice was made audible though association with the traditionally powerful effects of music. Thomas Dekker’s account stresses how the king’s presence transformed the city into a royal court and even a kingdom, while the musical resources deployed created an aural journey that symbolised an increasing intimacy between king and city. London’s musical transformation signified both its submission to the king who could so profoundly alter its soundscape and identity, and the city’s privileged relationship with the Crown. Moreover, the pageant authors articulated the city’s hopes for the new reign, illustrating though music the transformative potential of monarchical power if wisely used.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivic Performance
Subtitle of host publicationPageantry and Entertainments in Early Modern London
EditorsJ. Caitlin Finlayson, Amrita Sen
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315392707
ISBN (Print)9781138228399
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Performance and Early Modern Drama


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