Grays Inn Masque

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GRAY'S INN MASKE/MASQUE. AKA - "Graies Inne Maske." AKA and see "Poor Tom," "Mad Tom," "New Mad Tom of Bedlam." English, Air and Country Dance Tune (4/4 and 6/4 time). D Dorian (Playford): G Dorian (Chappel). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCDCD (Playford): AABCDEF (Chappel). Gray's Inn [1] was one of the four great Inns of the Temple Barr to which lawyers allied themselves in 17th century England. Prior to the Commonwealth, Gray's Inn, along with Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Middle Temple, held annual revels which included music and dancing. During the reign of James I the inns, singly or in pairs, presented masques at the royal court. The Gray's Inn structure was built in 1545 and lasted until World War II, when it became the victim of the Blitz and burned to the ground. Luckily, however, key features of the interior were rescued and the building was rebuilt along original lines.

William Chappell (1859) remarked that the air was used, as the name implies, as accompaniment to a suite of dances in a Masque, though he admited there is no way of knowing whether it was written for that purpose or rather as a song. He believed it to have been "considerably older" than Playford's English Dancing Master (1651) because one of the ballads was directed to be sung to the tune of "Mad Tom" which was "lately sung at the Curtain, Holywell;" the Curtain Theatre was all but closed by 1625, and "Mr. Collier, in a note to Heber's catalogue, even gives the date of one of the performances of the tune at that theatre as 'about 1610.'" He further stated that the air had been ascribed variously to the famous composer Henry Purcell and to Henry Lawes, however, these assertions are speculative and, in fact, the music was in print before Purcell was born. Lawes was said by Sir J. Hawkins to have been mentioned as the composer in Choice Ayres and Antidote against Melancholy, however Chappell finds no reference to him in those works.

Since Chappell's time more information has come to light about the origins of the melody. Graham Christian (2015) writes that it was the work of Giovanni Coprario (born John Cooper) and is contained in a manuscript of five pieces entitled "Graysin" or "Grayes Inne Masque" (now in the British Museum MS ADD, 10444). Coprario/Cooper (c. 1570–1626) was an English composer, viol player and lutenist assocaited with the court of James I, who had changed his name probably due to the influence of Italian music at the time. Christian thinks the five pieces were probably used in The Masque of the Inner-Temple and Gray's Inn, written by Francis Beaumont for the part of the rather extravagent wedding of the daughter of James I, Elizabeth, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, in 1613. It is possible, speculates Christian, that the music formed a part of the "anti-masque," which provided an interlude of comic relief to the "high-toned mythography of the main action." The flavor of the anit-masque in 1613 can be gleaned from this report of a Gray's Inn Christmas celebration in 1594, at which a court of mock royalty was chosen and:

...his Highness [the Prince of Purpoole] called for the Master of Revels, and willed him to pass the time in dancing so his gentlemen-pensioners and attendants, very gallantly appointed, in thirty couples, danced the old measures, and then galliards, and other kinds of dances, reveling until it was very late.

The air appears in the first edition of John Playford's English Dancing Master (1651), his Antidote against Melancholy (1669), and his Choice Ayres' (1675). It also appears in the ballad operas Penelope (1720) and The Bay's Opera (1730).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barlow (Compleat Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 2005; No. 30, p. 23. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 53. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times, vol. 1), 1859; p. 179. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; pp. 41-42. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 47.

Recorded sources: Familiar Records 59, Pyewackett - "The Man in the Moon Drinks Claret" (1982).

See also listing at:
Hear a version of Coprario's "Gray's Inn" played on guitar on youtube.com [2]




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