Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare

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Cambridge University Press


The musicality of Shakespeare’s language has inspired a fascinating range of creativity in diverse musical genres and hybrids. These include art song, folk song, opera, music hall and popular song, and last, but by no means least, jazz. Recent scholars have described a shift in our understanding of Shakespeare as enduring cultural phenomenon: from popular cultural participant to highbrow literary icon and back to contemporary pop “culture chameleon.” This chapter charts the triple confluence of Shakespeare, jazz, and popular culture in the twentieth century, with special attention to Johnny Dankworth’s and Cleo Laine’s singular contributions to Shakespearean song and sonnet-setting.

Topics covered in this chapter include

• Development of jazz

• Development of “jazz Shakespeare”

• The 1974 “Will Power” event

• Jazz “jouissance”

• “Such Sweet Thunder” and “Timon of Athens”

• Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth

• Laine, Dankworth, and the sonnets

• Ambivalence and dualism

• The alchemy of music and poetry

• “Start quoting him now”

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9780521113939



Recommended Citation

Ingham, M. (2016). Jazz. In B. R. Smith (Ed.), The Cambridge guide to the worlds of Shakespeare (pp.1852-1859). New York : Cambridge University Press.

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