Simon Smith
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‘I see no instruments, nor hands that play’
Antony and Cleopatra and visual musical experience

Sources describing visual musical experience range from works of music theory and the paratexts of printed music books, through to dramatic texts and the prefaces of popular psalm settings. This chapter considers early modern accounts of the importance of visual musical experience, before examining accounts of musical response when music is hidden and unavailable for such engagement. These sources offer a clear picture of the reactions expected from contemporary subjects when faced either with visible or with unseen music. The chapter also considers responses to unseen music that were invited from playgoers at early performances of Antony and Cleopatra. Early modern sources are clear about responses to unseen music, and it is through these responses that visual musical experience took on a particular significance for playgoers. Hidden music is used with precise dramaturgical intentions in Act 4, Scene 3 of Antony and Cleopatra in a supernatural context.

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