#ArchiveWeek: Music.17-27 November we are exploring our Archive….

#ArchiveWeek: Music.

17-27 November we are exploring our Archive. First up is music. In this blog former Archive Assistant Lucy Armstrong gives an insight into the music related items we hold in our Archive.


The collections at Shakespeare’s Globe Library & Archive include sheet music from Globe Theatre and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse productions and Education events such as Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank. The music is composed by a range of composers such as Claire van Kampen (founding Director of Music and Senior Research Fellow), Bill Barclay (Director of Music), Nigel Hess and others, some of whom visit the Archives to reference previous productions.

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The music is catalogued by production and typically includes a music director’s score, script, instrument parts (some musicians were multi-instrumentalists), deputy pads and onstage music. Several productions also include copies of drafts and adaptations for tours. The music is wonderfully annotated, giving us insight into musical decisions, interpretations and adaptations for the productions. Some of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse copies even include drops of wax from the candles used to light the performances!

Each pad is preserved in a separate archival file and information about the contents of the file can be found on our online archive catalogue. The music is a combination of newly written scores and collections of existing music curated for the production. For example, Apocalypse Meow (2017) included a range of well-known pieces ranging from ‘Away in a Manger’ to ‘My Favourite Things’ whereas all of the music for Romantics Anonymous (2017-18) was composed by Michael Kooman and orchestrated by Simon Hale.

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The content of each box varies greatly depending on the needs of the musicians and the extent of what was kept at the time. A good example of a comprehensive music box is the 1999 Julius Caesar. As well as the scores and instrumental parts that one would expect to find, there is also a file of research on military drums, reading lists, descriptions of dances and Roman gods as understood by the Elizabethans. In addition there is information on the sound design, band calls, instrumental ranges and a description of the slide trumpet. Several of the productions include a diagram of the position of the musicians but the most unique item in the 1999 Julius Caesar box is the ‘bluffer’s guide to act V’ which gives an entertaining insight into how the musicians navigated this part of the play including the starred instruction: ‘Ear plugs Act IV/V break *Ear plugs*’. The guide was for the signal trumpet during the battle scene and involved instructions about the location of the musician (sometimes on stage), the ‘alarms’, ‘charges’ or ‘victories’ to be played and how the entries and exits coordinated with the actors. Of course there were also directions about how to move from the Act IV/V break into Act V depending on the action on stage and a reminder at the end to return quickly to the gallery for the jig.

The music collection is only one of many unique aspects of our performance archive that helps tell the rich and fascinating story of the Globe’s 21 year performance history.