Textual Notes

This page represents a list view of the complete set of Textual Notes that are linked within the text of the play.

Each Note also provides a link to the placement within the text.


Dramatis Personae presentation: This edition preserves the typography and punctuation of FE, except for the brackets marking out Macheath’s Gang and The Women of the Town.

Dramatis Personae, comma after “Harry Paddington”:In FE1, there is a comma after “Harry Padington.”  It is corrected in TE.

Dramatis Personae, “Mat of the Mint”: The text alternates between “Mat” and “Matt,” and there is no clear way to establish which one Gay prefers.  We might seek an answer from instances where he is referred to by another character, but this does not clarify matters. For instance, in I.iii., Peachum, reading from his list of the gang, refers to him as “Mat” while Macheath addresses him as “Matt” in III.iv.  The abbreviation of his name in his speeches alternates between “Mat.” and “Matt.” within a couple of lines in II.1 in FE and SE, though altered in TE.  However, there is an instance in the Dramatis Personae in III.15 where TE uses “Mat.” The spellings are thus left as they are in the FE, since no case can be made for the correction in the name of consistency or avoiding semantic confusion.

Air II (Act I, Scene 2)  The title of this air was changed from “grey-ey’d” in SE and TE.

[more notes to text in process]


[links to come]

* A few obvious errors appear in the third edition of the score. We have marked these errors with an asterisk.

    • In the overture, bar 46, there appears to be an error in the first violin line. Here the violins are doubling the first oboe line, but where the oboe jumps down from an A to a C, the violins jump from A to E-flat. This is likely a scribal error.
    • In AIR VII m. 5, this is a D-natural where it clearly should be a D-sharp. Note that when this passage repeats later, the note is a D-sharp.
    • In AIR XII m. 8, this is an A where it clearly should be a G.
    • In Air XL, the bassline from m. 12/beat 4 to m. 14/beat 4 makes no harmonic sense. See Barlow for a more logical alternative.
    • In AIR XLI bar 17, the final note is a C-sharp that should be a C-natural.
    • In Air XLV, the Gs in the bass in mm. 6–7 are most likely meant to be tied, as in mm. 15–16. 
    • In AIR XLVI, measure 12 has 6 full beats followed by a pickup to measure 13, resulting in 7 beats. This is reproduced as written.
    • AIR XXXIX is mislabeled as AIR XXX.
    • In AIR LIV m. 8, the tied notes in the bass are dotted quarter to quarter in the original score, which adds a half a beat to the measure.
    • In AIR XLIV, mm. 14 to the end, there occurs what appears to be a copying error. The scribe forgot upon turning the page that they were midway through a bar and started a new bar on the next page, causing the barring to be offset by a measure from midway through measure 14 to the end. The result is a 9 beat measure 14, followed by two 6 beat measures. 
  • In the original score, measures are often split between two systems due to spacing issues. Occasionally, this means that notes will be notated differently than they would have been if the measure were presented on a single system. For example, this happens twice in AIRXXXVIII. In measures 4 and 18, what would have been a whole note in the bass is notated as two tied half notes. For clarity, we have printed these notes as whole notes. 
  • + In Air 40, bar 11, the 3rd edition refers to the “wary pack.” As the editorial note to the text [link] indicates, while the text in TE follows SE in changing the text to “wary,” there is no clear authorial warrant for doing so, which changes the meaning of the line.