Popular Entertainment (Sound and Music)

Popular Entertainment (Sound and Music)

Middle Ages (c.500-1500)

  • Church music was central to Middle Ages’ social life. Compositions mostly focused on religious themes and were used in liturgical services.
  • Minstrels were travelling musicians who performed songs and stories at castles and fairs. They were the main source of secular music and their songs often told tales of chivalry and love.
  • Instruments commonly used included the lute, recorder, and the harp.

Early Modern Period (c.1500-1800)

  • Operas, oratorios and the Italianate style began influencing English music. Composers, such as Henry Purcell, began creating music using these formats.
  • Music was still often associated with the church, but secular music, particularly in more rural areas, continued through folk songs and dances.
  • The printing press led to the production of ballad sheets which cheaply distributed popular songs, poems and news among the population.

19th Century

  • The Victorian era saw an increase in the variety of musical entertainment. Music halls became popular venues for mass entertainment.
  • Musical composition shifted towards a more Romantic style, with composers such as Edward Elgar gaining prominence.
  • Technological advancements such as the phonograph and gramophone began to change the way music was consumed.

20th Century to Present

  • The advent of media such as radio, television and later the internet, revolutionised the dissemination of music. This allowed for a greater variety of sounds and styles, and for influences from around the world to blend into British music.
  • Genres like jazz, rock & roll, pop and electronic music defined the 20th century. Bands such as The Beatles had worldwide influence and transformed the popular music scene.
  • The music industry emerged, with recording studios, record labels, and music charts determining the popular songs and styles of the time.
  • Festival culture developed, with events such as Glastonbury becoming significant in Britain’s musical calendar.
  • In the present, digital platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have dramatically changed music consumption, with streaming becoming the main method people access music.