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Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867$
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Catherine Jones

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684618

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684618.001.0001

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Magic Numbers and Persuasive Sound

Magic Numbers and Persuasive Sound

(p.33) Chapter 1 Magic Numbers and Persuasive Sound
Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867

Catherine Jones

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines attitudes to music and its performance of leading figures of the American Enlightenment and Revolution, notably Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and the attempts of Francis Hopkinson and others to harness the Orphean power of music so that it should become a progressive force in the creation of a new society. It focuses on Franklin's open letters on music, published in the 1769 edition of his Experiments and Observations on Electricity (1751), and his ballad compositions of the 1760s and 1770s; Jefferson's Literary Commonplace Book and draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776); and Hopkinson's masque-oratorio America Independent(1781). Jefferson's musical experiences in Paris while United States Minister to France (1784-9) are also discussed. The chapter suggests that the theory and practice of rhetoric continued to shape the musical intellectual and performance cultures of the Atlantic world throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Keywords:   American Enlightenment, American Revolution, ballads, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas Jefferson, Orpheus, music, performance, rhetoric

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