‘To Propagate Sound for Sense’: Music for Diversion and Seduction at Ranelagh Gardens

Joncus, Berta. 2013. ‘To Propagate Sound for Sense’: Music for Diversion and Seduction at Ranelagh Gardens. The London Journal, 38(1), pp. 34-66. ISSN 0305-8034 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Through its music, Ranelagh Gardens became a soundscape as well as a landscape. Characteristic of the vocal music performed at its Rotunda, Europe’s first purpose-built concert space, was the projection — through
words, orchestration, and pairings of singers — of the pastoral myth that the Gardens laboured to evoke. Pastoral-themed masquerades and their musical conceits offered visitors the chance to enact, as well as witness, an Arcadia-themed erotic abandonment, as when a maid of honour to the Princess of Wales appeared at a masquerade half-naked in the character of Iphegenia, the event lampooned in a vocal cantata by Thomas Arne.
By working ‘to propagate sound for sense’, as Defoe had it, music helped overpower visitors’ rationality at this ‘Grand Seminary of Luxury’.

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Arcadia, ballad, feminine, John Beard, music, Ranelagh

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014


March 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Apr 2013 08:02

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 09:44

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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