Explain in brief the Music and Songs in the Play The Tempest

Of all the plays of Shakespeare The Tempest has the most intimate connection with music. It floats throughout the play. It is not only the omnipresent background in the play. It is organic to it. It moves the action onward. Music leads Ferdinand to the dwelling place of Prospero where he meets Miranda. He is first enchanted by the melody of music and they by the beauty of Miranda. It also saves the lives of Alonso and Gonzalo. Caliban is witness that “the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” The music is delightful and soothing. It allays the fury of the tempest and the passion of Ferdinand. There is a considerable amount of instrument music. The play abounds in songs. It contains eight songs. The songs are sung by Ariel, Caliban and Stephano.

The first song is ‘Come unto these yellow sands, And then take hands. This is sung by Ariel in Act one, scene two. This ‘pied piper’ song, which draws Ferdinand entranced after it, is just the light and skipping kind we should expect from the vivacious spirit. Stopfold Brooke has said about this song, “It is so evanescent, so delicate, so rippling that no criticism can touch it without hurting it.” This song surprises Ferdinand like an April shower. The song neither feeds nor pleases his grief nor encourages him to sit brooding. It allays his passions. He gets to his feet and follows music.

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The second song is

Full father lies :……. rich and strange.

This song is contrasted with the first. Its movement is solemn and its mood is said, with a funeral bell tolling for chorus. It blends the sorrow and solace of life. This dirge like song seems more relevant to Ferdinand.



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