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England has produced some of the world’s best music throughout history. In fact, as a country, England has spearheaded some of the world’s most significant musical movements and trends.

Since its earliest days, English music has been particularly diverse and culturally relevant. It was made up of religious music, folk music, classical music and many other styles.



Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. A man playing a street organ with children dancing around him circa 1870.

There were styles designed for the wealthy and elite and others for the working class and the poor. English music was particularly influenced by European movements. However, there are also many trends and styles that originated from within the country itself. Notable examples are the Celtic chants and the medieval carols.

During the 16th Century, the Protestant Reformation hit England, introducing an increased tendency towards religious music. This restricted certain events that had been associated with music in the past and forced local musicians and composers to create distinct styles for worship, nationalism, and so on. The court music maintained its integration with Europe, while opera dominated other areas.

The Baroque era of the 17th and 18th centuries was characterised by formalised orchestral classical music that was ornamental, dramatic and complex. The Baroque style was especially popular amongst the royals and the elite, but was certainly not limited to these ones.


Folk music was the music of the people and was, therefore, distinctive to England (i.e. different to the folk music of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). This dynamic style evolved over the years and reflected the personal experiences of the immigrants, working classes and more esteemed classes. Folk music existed in various forms from the medieval times right through until the industrialisation of the society during the 19th and 20th centuries. The folk style usually involved a combination of song and dance. This musical form has experienced several revivals over the years. Today, there continue to be folk artists, who combine a traditional style of storytelling with more modern media (such as electronic equipment, for example).

In the 1800’s, brass bands were introduced and used to convey the typical classical styles of music in a more fun and modern way. This was largely brought about by the social and economic changes experienced by England at the time.

Then, during the 1930’s, American jazz music infiltrated the English market. This forced the creation of local bands and musicians, who explored and experimented with their genres, styles and audiences. The radio belted out popular dance tunes and every occasion to celebrate was marked by the presence of vibrant music and dancing. By 1962, the English people were accustomed to using music as an expression of joviality and joy. However, The Beatles revealed an entirely new perspective on musical entertainment in this year. This 60’s band was the most popular of its time, luring young and old to their performances and hitting global charts over and over again. Their songs were catchy, displayed excellent musical abilities and sometimes broke the bounds of conservatism. Indeed, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr revolutionised English and international music forever.

Since then, many musical giants have come from this talented country. These include The Rolling Stones, Queen, Elton John, George Michael, Blur, Robbie Williams, Oasis, Radiohead, and Muse.

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