Friday, June 17, 2016

Which instrument shall she play?

Women and Music in the 17th Century

Over at Hoydens and Firebrands there is an fascinating post on women and music in the 17th century: Modest or Unmannerly, Which Instrument Shall She Play? by DM Denton.
In the 17th century a refined young woman might want and even be encouraged to cultivate her musical ability and prove some accomplishment through singing and accompanying herself instrumentally—as recreation not occupation, of course. Considering her need to impress a suitor, show her figure off in the best possible way, express the sweetest tones of her personality and gentle capability of her character, which instrument should she play?

Under the Don Juan career, Honor+Intrigue notes that

A Don Juan knows just the right words, gifts, or look
to make any woman putty in his hands. He knows how
to serenade with a lute or compose love poetry, and
how to dress to impress.

Of course a Temptress (the female version of a Don Juan) has similar abilities to a Don Juan and this article provides some period information about the sorts of instruments a female Courtier or Temptress might play and also which instruments some of the men in the period found appropriate or unmannerly for female musicians.

A concert with male and female musicians

Articles at Hoydens & Firebrands tend to be focused on England more so than France or the rest of the Continent and to the later rather than the early half of the 17th century. Despite that it has some great information and it sometimes includes information about women in the period that is sometimes less commonly seen.

Check them out!

Here's another, though the two men in hats look more late Renaissance, the woman's dress and the man with the skull cap seem 17th century.


  1. I must apologize for acknowledging your sharing of some my post with a link to it on Hoydens & Firebrands SO VERY belatedly. I only just saw your comment today when I went back to the post on H & F. I love how you expanded on it. Again, thank you! All the best, Diane

    1. Diane, no apology is necessary, though one is most courteous and welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed my post and I eagerly await the next post on Hoydens & Firebrands.