William Shakespeare

This website attempts to identify every music reference in context in each play and in a number of poems where they occur. Music in Shakespeare is a wide-ranging subject embracing terms and phrases of many differing kinds and definitions. For the purposes of this website, ‘music’ has been interpreted as relating to sound (instruments, voice and vocalization, noise such as shouting and ordnance, natural phenomenon such as tempests, thunder, wind, etc), theory and philosophy (pedagogy, rudiments, neo-classical philosophy and ideas), dance (accompanied by instruments), military cues (alarum, march, retreat, parley, usually or notionally involving an instrument such as trumpet or drum), expressive or ‘emotional’ terms (sigh, doleful, mournful, etc), generic terms (anthem, ayre, madrigal, etc), performative procedures (strike drums, wind horns, blow trumpets, touch the lute, sing a song), and miscellaneous or stand-alone terms which may have only an oblique connection with music but which nonetheless support a musical context—Shakespeare tends to cluster musical references rather than present them in isolation.

Explore the Website

Through this website you can browse our database of musical references in works by Shakespeare. You can also find a range of useful information.


To get in touch with us about the Music in Shakespeare project, please get in touch with the project's Research Director Professor Christopher R. Wilson.

Professor Christopher R. Wilson MA(Oxford), DPhil(Oxford), FSA

Department of Music Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences University of Hull Hull, UK HU6 7RX Tel: 01482 465609 Email: christopher.wilson@hull.ac.uk