The abolition of the Book of Common Prayer services in 1645 and the dissolution of royal and cathedral musical organizations during the Commonwealth forced professional musicians into private employment as music tutors and helped to develop a broad-based audience of enthusiastic musical amateurs. Stationer John Playford shrewdly provided music for this new market—instruction manuals, country dances, catches, songs, and psalms. A committed royalist, he used music to help sustain royalist aspirations during the Interregnum.
Some of Playford's most popular titles included:
The English Dancing Master (1651)
A Musicall Banquet (1651)
Catch that Catch Can (1652)
Musicks Recreation (1652)
Introduction to the Skill of Musick (1654)
Court Ayres (1655)
As a stationer and a musician, Playford was particularly suited to collect and promote music. He posessed some training and a genuine interest in music. Consequently he seems to have been accepted in London musical circles where could easily copy music from friends and associates.
The manuscript above is an example of Playford's musical copying used for singing and playing with his music club. It records a version of Robert Johnson’s "Full
fathom five," most likely written for a Jacobean restaging of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Although Playford and Johnson never met, Playford probably received the piece from Johnson’s fellow theater musician John Wilson.