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The Cover
September 4, 2002

Theatrum Instrumentorum

Author Affiliations
 

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2002;288(9):1050-1051. doi:10.1001/jama.288.9.1050

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.

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