TEXT 2. Music of the United Kingdom
Records of music of the United Kingdom date back to the medieval era and indicate it was already a rich and diverse culture, including Church music, court and popular music, and folk music. Church music and religious music in general was profoundly affected by the Reformation from the XVI century, which curtailed many of the events associated with such music and forced the development of a distinctive national music of worship and belief.
In contrast court music, although having many unique elements remained much more integrated into wider European culture, often drawing on composers born in continental Europe as it developed into modern classical music. It began to obtain clear national identities in the components of the United Kingdom towards the end of the XIX century, producing many composers and musicians of note and drawing on the folk tradition.
There are four primary components of the United Kingdom, each with their own diverse and distinctive folk music forms. Each of the major nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation. England has a long and diverse history of folk music dating back at least to the medieval period and including many forms of music, song and dance. Notable types of English folk tunes include the ballad, love songs of various sorts, and songs attached to particular occasions or activities, such as carols, sea shanties, children’s singing games, and street cries.
A carol is a festive song, generally religious but not necessarily connected with church worship, and often with a dance-like or popular character. Today the carol is represented almost exclusively by the Christmas carol, the Advent carol, and to a much lesser extent by the Easter carol. In the 19th century many surviving non-religious carols were re-discovered and arranged for church use with new Christian lyrics. In modern times, songs that may once have been regarded as carols are now classified as songs, even those that retain the traditional attributes of a carol – celebrating a seasonal topic, alternating verses and chorus, and danceable music.
Shanties are the work songs that were used on the square-rigged ships of the Age of Sail. Their rhythms coordinated the efforts of many sailors hauling on lines. Traditional shanties can be grouped into three types: short haul shanties, for tasks requiring quick pulls over a relatively short time; halyard shanties, for heavier work requiring more setup time between pulls; and capstan shanties, for long, repetitive tasks requiring a sustained rhythm, but not involving working the lines.
A singing game is an activity based around a particular verse or rhyme, usually associated with a set of actions and movements. The origins of most singing games are obscure and have been evolved by children over many generations. Traditionally there were many calling rhymes, used to assemble players of a game or often used as counting out, a means of starting a game by choosing special roles, usually by eliminating all but one player, most famously in rhymes like “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”, etc.
Folk music flourished until the era of industrialisation when it began to be replaced by new forms of popular music, including Music hall and brass bands. Realisation of this led to two folk revivals, one in the later XIX century and the mid-XX, which kept folk music as an important sub-culture within society. In the early XX century American influences became most dominant in popular music, with young performers producing their own versions of American music, including rock n’ roll from the late 1950s and developing a parallel music scene. This led to the explosion of the “British Invasion” of America of the early 1960s, spearheaded by the Beatles, from which point rock music and popular music in general became something of an Anglo-American collaboration, with movements on one side of the ocean being exported to the other, where they tended to be adapted and turned into new movements, only to be exported back again. As a result of these factors the United Kingdom had remained a major source of musical innovation and participation in the modern era.
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