United Kingdom Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

Great Britain – music

Great Britain has a glorious musical tradition that shows some independence from the development of the rest of Europe.

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Middle Ages

The Gregorian chant was introduced in 597. Among the local variants of the Roman tradition, the one especially associated with the Cathedral of Salisbury became the most widespread in English churches. Around 1000, Winchester was a significant music center, and the earliest large collection of polyphonic church music originated here (Winchester Troper, approximately 1025). A Welsh clergyman gives some interesting glimpses of the musical life of the British Isles in the 12th century, especially of Irish instrumental music and of improvised polyphonic singing by the Welsh. The latter is compared to a special way of singing in two voices, which could be heard in England in the area “north of the River Humber”; it is attributed to Danes and Norwegians who had long inhabited these areas.

British musicians were in contact with French music in the 1200’s; thus the probably oldest transcript of a collection of polyphonic church music (organa) associated with the Notre-Dame church in Paris (Magnus liber organi) is apparently written in Scotland. However, the manuscript also contains a unique collection of stylistically different music of British origin. A contemporary, probably English observer of music in Paris approximately 1275 also refers to the distinctiveness of British music. This is evident in the contemporary secular Sumer is icumen in, one of the most remarkable songs of the Middle Ages.

The sources of British music in the 1300’s. are relatively few and fragmentary, but the music often shows a cult of the triad, possibly. in parallel thirteenth and sixteenth intervals, which reinforces the impression of a stylistic independence of the continent. One of the few almost complete manuscripts (the Old Hall manuscript) contains a large collection of church music written approximately 1370-approx. 1420. It contains music by composers such as John Dunstable and Leonel Power (d. 1445), who had a significant influence on the development of Renaissance music on the continent in the 1400’s.


During the Tudor Dynasty (1485-1603), British music experienced a period of glory. Church music reached a peak with Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521) and John Taverner, before Henry VIII broke with the pope in 1534. A simpler liturgy was prepared for the Protestant Anglican Church (Book of Common Prayer, 1549, revised 1552). Thomas Tallis, Christopher Tye and John Sheppard (approximately 1515-approx. 1560) were among the composers who helped to establish Anglican church music (services, anthems), but during the short-lived re-introduction of Catholicism under Mary I the Bloody resumed the the masses, motets and antiphons of Roman ritual. With Elizabeth I, the church again became Protestant, however, Latin was not completely abolished, and the greatest composer of the time, William Byrd, remained Catholic.

British composers occupied a prominent place in the cultivation of instrumental music (Thomas Tallis, John Bull, Giles Farnaby, Orlando Gibbons, John Dowland, Thomas Tomkins, etc.) for organ, harpsichord (virginal), string ensemble (viol consort), mixed ensemble (broken consort) and lye. Folk songs such as carols and polyphonic, worldly song were cultivated under and by Henry 8. Solo singing accompanied by lute (ayre) or viol consort (Byrd, Dowland) was printed in large quantities, and under inspiration from Italy, the madrigal flourished in English. 1590-1630 (Thomas Morley, Thomas Weelkes among others).

Baroque and classical

The opera did not gain ground in England, where the masque genre was maintained in the 1600’s. as the preferred form of union of poetry, song, dance, orchestral playing, and performing arts. During Cromwell’s Puritan Republic (1649-60), church music was abolished and theaters closed. These institutions had to be rebuilt by the re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 as described in Samuel Pepys’ diary. Henry Purcell in particular mastered all genres of music, including opera, but after his early death there was no English composer of format who could challenge Georg Friedrich Händel when he came to England in 1712. He was for almost half a century the dominant figure in English. musical life and achieved especially with its oratorios to be considered part of the English tradition.

Many composers from the continent took up residence in England during this period and contributed to a flourishing musical life. The German JC Pepusch arranged folk songs for John Gay’s immensely and eternally popular The Beggar’s Opera (1728), thereby launching the special “ballad” or “English” opera with spoken dialogue; public concerts were established by JC Bach and Karl Friedrich Abel, and several pleasure gardens such as Vauxhall offered music. Among the significant British composers are William Boyce and Thomas Augustine Arne. 1700-t. is characterized by a growing interest in the music of the past; Among other things, Boyce published an anthology of church music from the two previous centuries (Cathedral Music, 1760-73). At the same time, Charles Burney and John Hawkins (1719-89) published the first two complete, and still useful, musical stories.

Through a rich production of polyphonic songs (including glees) and by the musical clergy brothers John and Charles Wesley’s determined commitment to hymn singing in the church, the British in the 1700’s. encouraged to sing as a social occupation. Samuel Wesley, a son of Charles, became a significant composer and organist; he was an advocate of JS Bach’s music, whose rediscovery in the 1800’s. was promoted by Wesley’s performances and releases. His son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-76), became the most important church musician of his time as an organist, composer and agitator for better conditions for church music.


The Irish pianist and composer John Field gained a reputation on the continent, where his nocturner influenced Frédéric Chopin. Also W. Sterndale Bennett (1816-75), an early student of the Royal Academy of Music, founded in 1822 with the aim of raising the music education in England, became internationally famous as a pianist and composer, and for a time he maintained English music; in much of the 1800’s. concert life in England, however, was dominated by musicians from the continent.

A special British card tradition, based on Purcell’s oder and Handel’s oratorios, unfolded in a network of “choral societies”, choral festivals and concerts. Against the background of this tradition, in the last two decades of the 1800’s, some composers emerged who promised to once again be able to highlight British music in a European context. Among them were C. Hubert Parry and Charles V. Stanford leading figures in British musical life, highly respected as composers, as professors at resp. Oxford and Cambridge Universities and valued teachers for many of the next generation of composers at the Royal College of Music (founded 1882). Arthur Sullivan had his greatest success at the theater, where in the 13 “light operas”, created in collaboration with the witty WS Gilbert, he left a lasting monument. The,

20th century

A growing interest in music history and musicology led to the release in the late 1800-t. of older English music, and the rediscovery of this proud past helped young British composers around 1900 to overcome the feeling of continental superiority. Many found in their own tradition, including folk music, inspiration for the creation of a national musical expression (Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst et al.), Which succeeded to such an extent that there is even talk of a “second renaissance” in British music in 1900. -t. Legends and landscapes from “the Celtic fringe” (Ireland, Wales, Scotland) also provided material for late romantic and impressionist works (Arnold Bax, Granville Bantock, John Ireland). Very personal was Frederick Delius, who was strongly attached to Scandinavia. 1. World War II brought contacts with new trends in European, primarily French music (Arthur Bliss, William Walton, Constant Lambert). The whole of British music life received a huge boost through the creation in 1922 of the British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation, BBC), which in 1946 was supplemented by the unique Third Program, where a serious treatment of music was given high priority. A leading figure after World War II was Benjamin Britten, whose music, not least operas enjoyed international recognition. The influence of Schönberg and Webern was only felt in British music after the war (Humphrey Searle et al.) And has no more than other new compositional techniques formed school. Among composers in the latter half of the 1900’s. such as Michael Tippett, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle.

United Kingdom (Popular Music)

Together with the United States, Great Britain has been the innovative force in popular music; in particular, African American music has inspired the British scene, which, however, has also influenced American music, especially after World War II. An actual popular music industry emerged from the mid-1800’s; a British copyright law of 1842 secured both authors and performers the rights to their works and performances. Increased prosperity and a change in norms, so that women also began to go out, created a larger audience base for music hallsand a profitable market for the sale of sheet music. Music life was divided into a serious and vulgar (popular) part. From the 1920’s, gramophone records and radio became important new media. Jazz, first ragtime and then swing, became popular, in the period from 1920 until World War II. Many American names performed during that period in Britain and Europe, but there were also a number of British dance orchestras and soloists within a wide field of popular music. In the UK, there were strong reactions to the American rock’n’roll in the 1950’s, which was banned by the BBC. In a more subdued version, Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard were launched as the British answer to rock’n’roll. Until the early 1960’s, the music industry had been centered around Denmark Street in London, but the interest in dixieland, blues and skiffle got many young people started playing themselves, and clubs were formed by music enthusiasts. It became the basis of the beat culture that gained ground in the British provincial towns. The Beatles, who came from Liverpool, had great success with their mix of Motown, blues and Tin Pan Alley, while The Rolling Stones, which linked to the London rhythm & blues milieu, had success with their declared African-American inspired music. The beat music that culminated in the concept of Swinging London around 1966, suffered a collapse as many musicians wanted to improve the music and make it serious. The many dance venues with live music were replaced by discos, which helped to form the backdrop for a very style-conscious scene. It was especially expressed in the 1970’s via David Bowie, who with all his identities and characters challenged the rock music that otherwise distanced itself from stylized professionalism and show. At the same time, a so-called “progressive”, partly psychedelic rock scene was developed with suite-built, symphonic compositions and concept albums as well as theatrical concerts, with groups like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull. Groups like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple outgrew the rhythm’n’blues music and created heavy rock that became the precursor to the later successful heavy metal scene of the 1980’s with names like Iron Maiden and Motörhead. Punk’s showdown with stadium rock and burnt out rock stars gained great importance from the mid-1970’s (with the Sex Pistols and The Clash as the leading names), not least through the many idealistic and experimental indie record companies that emerged in its wake (see indie). Also the subsequent new wave was a musically very style-conscious mixed culture that was quickly split up in many different directions as goth (The Cure), new romantic (Adam & The Ants) and electropop with the synthesizer as the main instrument (Depeche Mode). In the late 1980’s, it was elements from American subcultural music environments that were amplified in the UK as British DJs and musicians further developed house and techno from Chicago, Detroit and New York and founded a new music scene, built around pirate radio stations and large-scale parties. in disused factory halls. As the events were linked to the use of the psychedelic drug ecstasy, such parties were prohibited by law. In the 1990’s, this so-called rave scene grew big. Local music environments in the larger British cities contributed new stylistic expressions such as the trip hop in Bristol, a fusion of house and rock in Manchester, and jungle music in London and Central England, while rock got a revival in the form of the retrospective, nationally proud Britpop, who resumed many elements from the beat in the 1960’s with names like Oasis, Blur and Radiohead; this guitar rock-influenced scene got a boost in the 2000-t. with eg Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys. British rap had long been under the American scene and did not create great profiles, but around the grime scene and names like The Streets, Dizzy Rascal and Lady Sovereign emerged after the year 2000 with its own British tone and a style of music that drew on both jungle, 2 -step, rock, reggae, film music and world music. Since the 1960’s, the large West Indian population has helped to shape the music scene, London had a very strong reggae scene in the 1970’s. In the 1990’s, pop bands such as Take That and the Spice Girls also contributed alongside Sting, Kate Bush, George Michael, Elton John and Peter Gabriel to hold pop music to one of the UK’s most significant exports. For culture and traditions of United Kingdom, please check aparentingblog.

Great Britain (Folk Music)

Since the 1970’s, the terms folk music and folk song have been replaced by traditional and vernacular music in response to the selective and romanticizing perceptions of the 1800’s and 1900’s of especially ballad and folk song. Contemporary and older sources together, however, give an impression of especially vocal traditions: ballads, including broadsides (carols songs), carols, work songs, street shouts, lullabies and children’s songs, in a decorated and often nasal performance. The dance music used early drum and one-handed flute, but took over the instruments of the church chapels in 1750-1850: strings, flutes, clarinets, bassoons, etc.; in addition, chopping board, banjo and accordion. Country dances(tour dances) were popular from the 1600’s. in all walks of life. The bagpipe is significant in Scotland and Northumbria, where it accompanies dances such as hornpipe, reel, jig and polka. With FJ Childs The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-98) a text canon was created, but it was not until the 1890’s that melodies were collected, especially by Cecil Sharp. From 1903 he became the protagonist of a movement that wanted to resurrect English music on the basis of the newfound folk song that emerged as an unspoiled village tradition. Also eg morris danceand sword dancing got a renaissance. Criticism has later rejected Sharp’s idealized universe, including the dominance of church tones. In the 1960’s, industrial folk song was added. After a recession in 1970-90, musicology research has focused on regional traditions and the still practicing ballad singers. In Scotland and Wales, special Gaelic traditions have been perpetuated through revivals: dance songs, whale songs, love songs, Welsh polyphony and in the Hebrews the role of the bard.

United Kingdom Geography