Music Colloquium Series: Ross Duffin (CWRU Distinguished Professor of Music, Emeritus)

Ross Duffin photo (outdoors)
Friday, September 8, 2023

4:00 PM 
Harkness Chapel, Classroom

Music colloquia provide a weekly forum for presentation and discussion of recent research by distinguished visitors and CWRU faculty and graduate students in musicology, historical performance practice, and music education. 

All talks happen on Fridays at 4:00 PM (Eastern) in Harkness Chapel, Classroom, and are open to the public unless noted otherwise. 

About the Talk

"Singing Psalms to Hornpipes: William Slatyer’s Scandalous Collection”

In 1631, the English clergyman William Slatyer published Psalmes, or Songs of Sion, a collection of forty-five new psalm paraphrases in verse. That he specified popular tunes for singing them, however, was regarded as “scandalous” and the reaction was swift and decisive. Prelates of the Church of England immediately ordered Slatyer’s imprisonment, summoned him before the High Commission to repudiate his collection, apologize, and promise never to do it again, and they ordered his book to be burned.

Two copies of Slatyer’s little volume survive, however, and the thirty-three titles given in its offending table constitute a veritable catalogue of popular tunes from around 1630. Clearly, Slatyer sincerely believed it would be an enjoyable recreation for people to sing his sacred poems to these lively and memorable tunes. This talk introduces Slatyer and his work, and gives the background to a new musical edition of his scandalous collection.

About the Speaker

Ross W. Duffin is Distinguished University Professor and Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music Emeritus at Case Western Reserve University, having led the Historical Performance Practice program there from 1978 to 2018. He now divides his time between Pasadena CA and Washington DC. A winner of the Thomas Binkley and Howard Mayer Brown Awards from Early Music America, and the Noah Greenberg and Claude V. Palisca Awards from the American Musicological Society, his scholarship on early modern English songs is best known from his Shakespeare’s Songbook (W.W. Norton, 2004) and Some Other Note: The Lost Songs of English Renaissance Comedy (OUP, 2018). He has also published widely in historical performance practice, including on musical iconography, historical pronunciation, theory, notation, improvisation, and tuning—the latter most notably with his monograph How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care) (W.W. Norton, 2007).

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