Федеральное агентство по образованию Российской Федерации
Новгородский государственный университет им. Ярослава Мудрого
Реферат на тему:
Rock music in Britain
Студент группы 1262
Иванов Я. О.
Александрова Г. П.
History of British music
Little survives of the early music of Britain, by which is meant the
music that was used by the people before the establishment of musical
notation in the medieval period. Much that survives of folk music must
have had its origins in this period, although the melodies played by
morris dancers and other traditional groups can also be from a later
Some of the earliest music to remain is either church music, or else is
in the form of carols or ballads dating from the 16th century or
earlier. Troubadors carried an international courtly style across
western Europe. It was common in times before copyright for melodies to
be interchangeable, and the same melodies will often have been used
(with differing words) for secular and religious purposes. Melodies like
that of the Sussex Carol or Greensleeves will have had a long history of
eclectic use over the centuries.
During the 15th century, a vigorous tradition of polyphony developed in
Britain, as exemplified in the music of composers such as Leonel Power,
John Dunstable and Robert Fayrfax. The music of this school was famous
on the continent, and occasionally rivaled the music of the contemporary
Burgundian school in expressiveness and renown; indeed Dunstable is
recognized as one of the strongest influences on the early development
of the music of the Burgundians. Unfortunately, however, the vast
majority of British music manuscripts from this period were destroyed
during the Dissolution of the Monasteries carried out by Henry VIII in
the late 1530s; only a few isolated survivals remain, including the Old
Hall Manuscript, the Eton Choirbook, the Winchester Troper, and a
handful of scattered sources from the continent.
16th to 17th Centuries
With the growth in wealth and leisure-time for the noble classes, tastes
in music began to diverge sharply. While in the early part of the period
it is possible for tavern songs like Pastime with Good Companie to be
attributed (apocryphally) to King Henry VIII, by the middle 16th Century
there were distinct styles of music enjoyed by the differing social
classes. Renaissance influences made the acquisition of musical
knowledge an almost essential attribute for the nobleman and woman, and
ability to play an instrument became an almost mandatory social grace.
The Rennaisance influence also internationalized courtly music in terms
of both instruments and content, the lute dulcimer and early forms of
the harpsichord were played, ballads and madrigals were sung. The pavane
and galliard were danced. Henry Purcell became court composer to King
Charles II and wrote incidental music to plays and events.
For other classes instruments like pipe, tabor, bagpipe shawm,
hurdygurdy and crumhorn accompanied folk music and community dance. The
fiddle gradually grew in popularity. Differing regional styles of folk
music developed, in geographically separated areas such as Northumbria,
London and the West Country.
British Madrigal School
From about 1588 to 1627, a group of composers known as the British
Madrigal School became well-known in Britain and abroad. These
madrigalists composed light a cappella songs for three to six voices,
based on Italian models. The School began when Nicholas Yonge published
Musica transalpina in 1588, using poetic forms like the sonnet and
inspired by the work of Alfonso Ferrabosco, an Italian composer in
Elizabeth I’s court.
As courtly music grew more elaborate and internationalised, with
composers such as Handel and Mozart, writing operas, oratorios and
symphonic works, an British musician called John Gay produced The
Beggar’s Opera, a revolutionary popular opera which used British folk
With the Industrial Revolution came a parallel revolution in British
popular music as people moved from stable agrarian communities into the
growing industrial centres with the rise of the brass band in the North
of Britain. Folk Music went through a rapid series of transformations as
different regional idioms came together and reformed themselves into the
first universally acceptable and commercial popular music. This change
began first in the alehouses and later in what became known as the Music
Hall. Music Hall became the dominant form of British popular music for
over a century from its birth in the 1850s. While folk music continued
to enjoy popularity in the countryside, it was replaced for the majority
by the new forms.
Early 20th Century
Edward Elgar was the dominant classical composer of the early part of
the century. British tastes also tended towards light classical
composers such as Edward German, Ketelbey and Eric Coates, whose music
was spread by the new medium of Radio.
Radio also played a part in the increasing popularity of big band dance
music, popularised by the orchestras of Geraldo, Ambrose, Henry Hall and
Billy Cotton, and singers like Al Bowlly, and Jack Buchanan.
Operetta and Musical Comedy were very popular forms in this period, and
leading British composers included Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, and Noel
Popular singers in the Music Hall idiom included, Marie Lloyd, Vesta
Tilley, George Formby, Flanagan and Allen and Gracie Fields. With the
advent of World War II the taste for a more reflective and romantic
style of music was led by singers like Anne Shelton and Vera Lynn.
A significant factor in the early growth of folk clubs was Topic
Records. A.L. Lloyd wrote many of the sleeve notes for the records for
the next 20 years and sang on several of their albums. Ewan MacColl
toured widely in Britain, and recorded many of the Child Ballads.
Collets records in London was the best shop to find folk records and
magazines. From the mid-fifties skiffle and Rock and Roll songs began to
be home-produced by British performers.
The modern period
In the 60s and 70s, Britain was in a state of social upheaval as a
counterculture developed, from which came an explosion of American
blues-derived musical innovation as well as a revival of British folk,
inspired by pioneering artists like the Copper family. There was mixing
between the two groups, with bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye
Span pioneering a folk-rock fusion. Nic Jones, Davy Graham, Roy Harper,
Ralph McTell, June Tabor, Shirley Collins, John Renbourn and John
Kirkpatrick were among those who balanced innovation with tradition, and
criticized the worst excesses of folk-rock. When Martin Carthy «plugged
in» in 1971, the British traditional scene erupted in an uproar of
criticizing. Ashley Hutchings and Dave Pegg had been earlier innovators
of the fusion, and Hutchings helped propel Fairport Convention into the
star position of the British folk-rock scene, starting with the album
«What We Did On Our Holidays».
The seventies were probably the heydays for Folk Music Publications. The
popularity of British folk declined in the later 1970s, however, losing
ground to glam rock, disco, punk rock, heavy metal and lovers rock. In
the mid-1980s a new rebirth began, this time fusing folk forms with
energy and political aggression derived from punk rock. Leaders included
The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Oyster Band, Billy Bragg and The Pogues.
Folk-dance music also became popular in the 80s, with the British
Country Blues Band and Tiger Moth. Later in the decade, reggae
influenced British country music due to the work of Edward II & the Red
Hot Polkas, especially on their seminal Let’s Polkasteady from 1987. In
the 21st century, Oxford produced a young duo Spiers and Boden
Northumbria, at the northern edge of Britain, bordering on Scotland
across the Tweed River has the most vital traditional music of Britain,
with a strong scene and some mainstream success. Many of the most
popular traditional songs of today were written by legendary composers
like Tommy Armstrong in the late 19th century. In contrast to the rest
of Britain, Northumbria shows a strong Irish Celtic influence in the
music, the result of immigration. Accordions and fiddles, for example,
remain popular as a lasting influence from Ireland.
Northumbria is known for its long history of border ballads, such as
«The Ballad of Chevy Chase» and dances, including social ones like the
Elsdon Reel and others, like rapper dancing and Northumbrian clog
dancing, more typically seen in concert halls.
Northumbrian folk is most characterized by the use of Northumbrian
smallpipes as well as a strong Scottish and Celtic influence.
Northumbrian pipes are small and elbow-driven and the music is
traditionally very swift and rhythmic. Another distinct form of
Northumbrian pipe is called the «half-long» or «border» pipe. Perhaps
the most important of the old masters of the pipes is Billy Pigg.
Drawing on these pioneers, popularizers like Louis Killen, The High
Level Ranters and Bob Davenport brought Northumbrian folk to
international audiences, while Jack the Lad, Hedgehog Pie and
Lindisfarne used regional sources for folk-rock fusions.
Northumbrian pipe music has seen a recent revival due to the touring of
artists like Kathryn Tickell.
The West Country is most noted for its Scrumpy and Western music, much
of it fusing comical folk-style songs with affectionate parodies of more
mainstream musical genres, delivered in the local West Country dialects.
Sea shanties are a form of work song traditionally sung by sailors
working on the rigging of ships. There are several types, divided based
on the type of work they set the rhythmic base for. For example:
* short haul shanties: for quicks pulls over a short time
* capstan shanties: for repetitive, longer tasks that require a
* halyard shanties: for heavier work that require more time between
pulls to set up
History of British Rock Music
Chuck Berry invented rock and roll in 1955. Berry was a black man
playing black music. But times had changed: white kids were listening to
rhythm and blues throughout the Northeast, and white musicians were
playing rhythm and blues side to side with country music. The music
industry soon understood that there was a white market for black music
and social prejudice, racial barriers, could nothing against the forces
of capitalism. Rock and roll was an overnight success. The music
industry promoted white idols such as Elvis Presley, but the real heroes
were the likes of Chuck Berry, who better symbolize the synergy between
the performer and the audience. The black rockers, and a few white
rockers, epitomized the youth’s rebellious mood, their need for a
soundtrack to their dreams of anticonformism. Their impact was long
lasting, but their careers were short lived. For one reason or another,
they all stopped recording after a brief time. Rock and roll was
inherited by white singers, such as Presley, who often performed songs
composed by obscure black musicians. White rockers became gentler and
gentler, thereby drowning rock and roll’s very reason to exist. Buddy
Holly was the foremost white rocker of the late Fifties, while
cross-pollination with country music led to the vocal harmonies of the
Everly Brothers and to the instrumental rock of Duan Eddy.
The kids’ malaise returned, with a much taller wave, when folksingers
started singing about the problems of the system. Kids who had not
identified with Woody Guthrie’s stories of poor people, identified
immediately with folksingers singing about the Vietnam war and civil
rights. Bob Dylan was arguably the most influential musician of the era.
He led the charge against the Establishment with simple songs and poetic
lyrics. A generation believed in him and followed his dreams. Music
became the expression of youth’s ambitions.
At the same time, the story of commercial rock music took a bizarre turn
when it hit the coast of California: the Beach Boys invented surf music.
Surf music was just rock and roll music, but with a spin: very
sophisticated vocal harmonies. California had its own ideas about what
rock and roll should be: a music for having fun at the beaches and at
the parties. The Beach Boys’ vocal harmonies, a natural bridge between
rockers and doo-wop, turned out to be a fantastic delivery vehicle for
the melodic aspect of rock and roll, that black musicians usually buried
in their emphatic shouting.
The times were ripe for change, but a catalyst was still needed.
«Mersey-beat» changed the story of rock music forever. Mersey-beat came
out of nowhere, but it came with the power of history. Britain had had a
lousy music scene throughout the early Sixties. Mainly, British rockers
were mimicking Presley. Mainstream Britain did not identify with rock
and roll, was not amused by their «rebel» attitudes, did not enjoy their
frenzy rhythm. To a large extent, though, the seeds had already been
planted. Britain had an underground before America did: the blues clubs.
Throughout the Fifties, blues clubs flourished all over Britain. London
was the epicenter, but every major British city had its own doses of
weekly blues. Unlike their rock counterparts, who were mere imitators,
the British blues musicians were true innovators: in their hands, blues
became something else. They subjected blues to a metamorphosis that
turned it into a «white» music: they emphasized the epic refrains of the
call and response, they sped up Chicago’s rhythm guitars, they smoothed
down the vocal delivery to make it sound more operatic, they flexed the
choruses, enhanced the organ arrangements, added vocal harmony. In a few
years, British blues musicians were playing something that was as deeply
felt as the American blues, but had a driving power that no other music
on Earth had.
In the early Sixties veterans of that scene, or disciples of that scene,
led to the formation of bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds
and the Animals. The Rolling Stones became «the» sensation in London and
went on to record the most successful singles of the era. The Yardbirds
were the most experimental of them all, and became the training ground
for three of the greatest guitarists ever: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and
Jimi Page. From their ashes two blues bands were born, the Cream and the
Led Zeppelin, that in a few years will revolutionize rock music again.
Liverpool did not have a great underground scene but had a more
commercial brand of rock bands. The producer George Martin was
instrumental in creating the whole phenomenon, with both Gerry And The
Pacemakers and the Beatles, the band that went on to achieve world-wide
success. The smiling faces of the Liverpool kids were in stark contrast
with the underground club’s angry blues animals. But the two
complemented each other. «Beatlemania» stole the momentum from the blues
scene and understood how to turn that music into a mass-media
attraction. Rock music as a major business was born.
The most influential bands of the second generation were the Kinks and
the Who. Both went on to record concept albums and «rock operas» that
paraphrased the British operetta at the sound of rock music. While Kinks
were still proponents of melodic rock, the Who’s manically amplified
guitars were already pointing towards a noisier and less gentle future.
The Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who represent the triad of British
rock bands of the mid 1960s that would influence entire generations of
rock bands for decades. The Who were composing autobiographical songs of
the angry and frustrated urban youth. The Rolling Stones were composing
autobiographical songs of the decadent punks of the working class. The
Kinks were composing realistic vignettes of ordinary life in bourgeois
Britain. The three together provide a complete picture of the time.
Cream and Led Zeppelin upped the ante when they started playing very
loud blues. Cream’s lengthy solos and Led Zeppelin’s fast riffs created
the epitome of «hard rock».
The impact of British electricity on the American scene was equivalent
to an earthquake. Kids embraced electric guitars in every garage of the
United States and started playing blues music with a vengeance.
On the East Coast it was Dylan again who led the charge. His first
electric performances were met with disappointment by his fans, but soon
«folk-rock» boomed with the hits of the Byrds and Simon And Garfunkel.
The psychedelic movement that had been growing across the country
somehow merged with the wave of electric rockers and the protest
movement. They became one both in New York and in San Francisco. The
Velvet Underground and the Fugs turned rock and roll into an
In Britain, rock music took more of a European feel with the
underground movement that was born out of psychedelic clubs. Canterbury
became the center of the most experimental school of rock music. The
Soft Machine were the most important band of the period, lending rock
music a jazz flavor that would inspire «progressive-rock». Among the
eccentric and creative musicians that grew up in the Soft Machine were
Robert Wyatt, David Aellen, and Kevin Ayers. Their legacy can be seen in
later Canterbury bands such as Henry Cow, no less creative and
Progressive-rock took away rock’s energy and replaced it with a brain.
Traffic, Jethro Tull, Family and later Roxy Music developed a brand of
soul-rock that had little in common with soul or rock and roll: long,
convoluted jams, jazz accents, and baroque arrangements derailed the
song format. King Crimson, Colosseum, Van Der Graaf Generator, early
Genesis, Yes and started playing ever more complex, theatrical and
hermetic pieces. Arrangements became more and more complex,
insturmentalists become more and more skilled. Electronic instruments
were employed frequently. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Third Ear Band and
Hawkwind created genres that at the time had no name (decadent cabaret,
world-music and psychedelic hard rock).
The paradigm soon spilled into continental Europe, that gave its first
major rock acts: Magma, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero.
Even Britain’s folksingers sounded more like French intellectuals than
oldfashioned storytellers. The folk revival of the Sixties was mainly
the creation of a fistful of three collectives: the Pentangle, the
Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band. But around them
singer songwriters like Donovan, Cat Stevens, Nick Drake , John Martyn,
Syd Barrett and Van Morrison established new standards for musical
expression of intimate themes.
The 1960s were the «classic» age of rock music. The main sub-genres were
defined in the 1960s. The paradigm of rock music as the «alternative» to
commercial pop music was established in the 1960s. Wild experimentation
alloweds rock musicians to explore a range of musical styles that few
musicians had attempted before 1966. Captain Beefheart and the Velvet
Underground also created a different kind of rock music within rock
music, a different paradigm within the new paradigm, one that will
influence alternative musicians for decades. More than musical giants
like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, humble musicians like Captain
Beefheart, the Velvet Underground and the Red Crayola may be the true
heroes of the 1960s.
In Britain, the early Seventies saw the proliferation of hard rock and
progressive-rock and their branching into several sub-genres. British
musicians gave rock and roll an «intellectual» quality that made it the
cultural peer of European cinema and literature. British rock was
dragged down by the same stagnation that afflicted American rock. The
momentum for innovation was rapidly lost and the new genres created by
British musicians either languished or mutated into commercial
phenomena. Musical decadence led to decadence-rock, personified by
dandies David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Eccentric remnants of
progressive-rock such as Robert Fripp and Peter Gabriel started
avantgarde careers that were to lead to an expanded notion of rock
music. New musicians such as Kate Bush and Mike Oldfield helped liberate
rock music from the classification in genres and opened the road to more
abstract music. But the single most influential musician was Brian Eno,
who first led Roxy Music to innovate progressive-rock and then invented
Later in Britain first came industrial music, invented by Throbbing
Gristle as a hybrid of avantgarde and rock music, and then dark-punk,
whose main proponents were Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux, Public Image
Ltd, the Cure, the Killing Joke, the Sisters Of Mercy.
In early 80s Britain chose a different course, almost in the opposite
direction, towards simpler and more commercial music. It all started
with the modernist sounds of Ultravox, Wire and XTC, and their vaguely
robotic melodies. Then Japan and Simple Minds turned that sound into
pompous pop songs. And finally Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark and
others created synth-pop, that typically was pop played on electronic
instruments and sung by a female or gay singer (with a few notable
exceptions). The Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys were probably the
most artistically successful of the many that climbed the charts. The
Irish U2 and the Smiths turned sharply towards melody.
In 90s Britain was the place for psychedelic music. It started with the
Liverpool revival of Echo And The Bunnymen and Julian Cope, then it
picked up speed with dream-pop (Cocteau Twins, the Australian Dead Can
Dance, the Norwegian Bel Canto, and later the formidable triad of
Slowdive, Bark Psychosis and Tindersticks) and with the Scottish
noise-pop bands (Jesus And Mary Chain and Primal Scream ) and finally
reached a climax with the shoegazers (My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3,
Loop, Spiritualized, Catherine Wheel), before folding into a new form of
By the end of the decade, Britain was awash in Brit-pop, a media-induced
trance of super-melodic pop that spawned countless «next big things»,
from Verve to Oasis to Blur to Suede to Radiohead, the band that finally
disposed of it. But the best in the melodic genre came from humbler
groups, led by girls, like Primitives and Heavenly.
The 1990s were also the decade of heavy metal, that peaked in Los
Angeles with Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, Guns And Roses, and that soon
split into a myriad subgenres (doom metal, grind-core, death metal, etc)
and funk-metal (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine in
Los Angeles, Primus and Faith No More in San Francisco). Marilyn Manson
was the late phenomenon that recharged the genre.
The Nineties were the age of electronic music, whether in dance, ambient
or noise format. Electronic musicians and ensembles spread to Belgium
(Vidna Obmana), France (Air, Deep Forest, Lightwave), Germany (Sven
Vath, Mo Boma, Oval, Mouse On Mars, Air Liquide), Canada (Skinny Puppy,
Front Line Assembly, Delerium, Vampire Rodents, Trance Mission),
Scandinavia, and especially Japan (Zeni Geva, Boredoms, Merzbow, the
triad of noise). Britain’s revitalized ambient scene yielded Orb, Main,
Britain’s dance music was far more successful (creatively speaking) than
its rock bands: Madchester (Stone Roses), rave (Saint Etienne),
transglobal dance (Banco De Gaia, Loop Guru, Transglobal Underground,
TUU) ambient house (Orbital, Future Sound Of London, Aphex Twins,
Mu-ziq), jungle (Goldie, Squarepusher, Propellerheads), trip-hop
(Portishead, Tricky), and plain techno (Meat Beat Manifesto, Prodigy,
Chemical Brothers) artists redefined compositional processes and
cross-bred countless genres.
Industrial music and grindcore somehow merged and spawned terrifying
sounds in the albums of Techno Animal and Godflesh.
The Irish Cranberries and the Scottish Belle And Sebastian are among the
revelations of the end of the decade.
Of course, it is impossible to mention all the bands and branches of
rock, but we tried to mention the brightest ones. Rock music continues
its developing and nowadays almost every band merges rock with some
other genres and classification is getting impossible and now based on
similarity between band’s style and existing branch of rock. In this
work we tried to avoid mentioning such brunches as “hardcore”, “hardcore
metal”, “death metal” etc. because links between above mentioned
branches and its parent branch is very transparent.
# ‘s Changing Roots». 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with
McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa,
Europe and the Middle East, pp 64-82. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books.
Mathieson, Kenny. «Wales, Isle of Man and Britain». 2001. In Mathieson,
Kenny (Ed.), Celtic music, pp. 88-95. Backbeat Books.