Play is the waking equivalent and active counterpart of a dream; the creative and cathartic activity of non-work. As a dream cleanses the soul, play refreshes the spirit. So much the better when it is done playfully.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Anthony D. Pellegrini and Peter E. Nathan, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Play (Oxford University Press, 2010).
- Dorothy Singer, RobertaMichnik Golinkoff and Kath Hirsh Pasick,Play = Learning : How Play Enhances Children's Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth (Oxford University Press 2006).
- Vivian Gussin Paley, A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play (University of Chicago Press, 2005).
- Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul (Avery, 2009).
- David Elkind, The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally (Da Capo Press, 2006).
- Grant Peterson, Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide To Riding Your Bike (Workman Publishing, 2012): “No matter how much your bike costs, unless you use it to make a living, it is a toy, and it should be fun.”
- Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson, The State of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture (Seven Stories Press, 2015): “. . . a collection of essays by a variety of academics, bloggers and independent game designers, also chooses for its theme how our ‘digital and real lives collide.’ Its editors . . . are interested in the way in which writing about the video game medium has grown from product criticism to social and political commentary.”
- Joe L. Frost, A History of Children’s Play and Play Environments: Toward a Contemporary Child-Saving Movement (Routledge, 2009).
- Howard P. Chudacoff, Children At Play: An American History (New York University Press, 2009).
- Sabine Frühstück and Anne Walthall, eds., Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan (University of California Press, 2017).
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Girl with a Hoop (1885)
Foreign correspondent Arthur Ransome, who covered the Bolshevik Revolution but “found revolutionary fervor less exhilarating than taxing,” took up a new career at age 45, writing young adult novels in which “children on holiday in the Lake District of England and elsewhere occupy themselves sailing camping, fishing and playing at pirates.”
- Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons (1930).
- Arthur Ransome, Swallowdale (1931).
- Arthur Ransome, Peter Duck (1932).
- Arthur Ransome, Winter Holiday (1933).
- Arthur Ransome, Coot Club (1934).
- Arthur Ransome, Pigeon Post (1936).
- Arthur Ransome, We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea (1937).
- Arthur Ransome, Secret Water (1939).
- Arthur Ransome, The Big Six (1940).
- Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941).
- Arthur Ransome, The Picts and the Martyrs; or Not Welcome At All (1943).
- Arthur Ransome, Great Northern? (1947).
- Jake Tapper, The Devil May Dance: A Novel (Little, Brown and Company, 2021): “The seriousness of this book never gets in the way of the breathless fun. Tapper obviously enjoyed sourcing it, writing it and using can-you-top-this gamesmanship from start to finish.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Mozart, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) (1791): “Generations of spectators have been fascinated by the melodies and adventures of Papageno, the Queen of the Night, Tamino, and Pamina, the ordeals faced by the young lovers, and the work’s inexhaustible allegorical depth.” “On one level, The Magic Flute is a simple fairy tale concerning a damsel in distress and the handsome prince who rescues her. Beneath the surface, however, the piece is much more complex. It is an allegory of the quest for wisdom and enlightenment as presented through symbols of Freemasonry . . .” Musically, Mozart makes an extended joke out of it. Here are links to performances conducted by Beecham, Fricsay, Klemperer, Böhm, Solti, Colin Davis, Christie, Abbado, Jacobs, and Östman. Here are performances, with video, conducted by Ivan Fischer and Muti.
Along the same line as Mozart’s Magic Flute is Michael Tippett, The Midsummer Marriage (1952).
Playful short romps on piano or, better still, a fortepiano of Beethoven’s era:
- Beethoven, 7 Bagatelles, Op. 33 (1802)
- Beethoven, 11 New Bagatelles, Op. 119 (1822)
- Beethoven, 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126 (1823)
- Playful marches and other band pieces by Julius Fučík
- Fossa, Guitar Trios, Op. 18: being playful, with others
- Bax, In the Faery Hills (1909)
- Bizet, Jeux D'Enfants (Children's Games), Op. 22 (1871)
- Works of Ryan Latimer – see the album “Antiarkie”: his music has been described as “deliciously playful”
- Berwald, Symphony No. 2 in D Major, "Sinfonie Capricieuse" (1842)
- Gemmingen, Violin Concerti: No. 3 in D Major; No. 4 in A Major
- Raga Kirvani (Kirwani) (Keerwani) (Keervani), a Hindustani classical raag adapted from a Carnatic ragam, is “playful in nature” (performances by Sharma & Chaurasia, Parvez and Ali Akbar Khan)
- Raga Khamaj, a Hindustani classical raag for late evening. “The Khamaj terrain ranges over all manner of melodic twists and turns and has been extensively mined.” “Many ghazals and thumris are based on Khamaj”, which “depicts a Chanchal (Playful) nature.” Linked performances are by Nikhil Banerjee in 1984, Vilayat Khan, and Budhaditya Mukherjee in 1997.
- Harbach, Cuatro Danzas for Flute and Piano
- Feigin, Aviv: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
- Satie, Sports et divertissements
- Jane Ira Bloom, “The Red Quartets”
- Claude Bolling, “Toot Suite”
- Claude Bolling, “Picnic Suite”
- Stephen Riley, “Oleo”
- Joe Fiedler, “Open Sesame”
- Kirk Knuffke & Harold Danko, “Play Date”
- Camille Bertault & David Helbock, “Playground”: play as creation
- Andy Findon & Geoff Eales, “The Dancing Flute: The flute and piano music of Geoff Eales”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Franz Schubert (composer), Die Forelle (The Trout), D. 550 (1817) (lyrics)