The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD,
Senior Contributing Editor.
The inauguration of the Globe Theatre in 1599 must have created some
welcome new opportunities for the resident musicians of London. Most were
still making a meager living, as they had for centuries, either by accompanying
dances or by playing antiphonal music to the greater glory of God. Most were
no more than idle craftsmen, and poorly paid ones at that.
But the newly discovered powers of music were concordant with early
17th-century theatrical sensibilities. Playwrights and opera composers were
struck with Plato's idea that bodily humors were tuned to particular musical
intervals. Music was mathematics made audible, its harmonic relations ideas
in the mind of an orderly God who formed the flesh in His divine image. Thus,
a brilliant sequence of diatonic notes was ordained to warm the audience's
blood to its natural sanguine state. But a progression of minor chords would
loose the dolorous black bile of that defining Elizabethan humor, melancholy.
Lurie SJ. Theatrum Instrumentorum. JAMA. 2002;288(9):1050-1051. doi:10.1001/jama.288.9.1050