Throughout its history, the United Kingdom has been a major producer and source of musical creation, drawing its artistic basis from the history of the United Kingdom, from church music, Western culture and the ancient and traditional folk music and instrumentation of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
In the 20th century, influences from the music of the United States became dominant in popular music. Following this was the explosion of the British Invasion, where British rock bands themselves became highly influential in the United States and globally, while subsequent notable movements in British music include the new wave of British heavy metal and Britpop. The United Kingdom has one of the world's largest music industries today, with many British musicians having influenced modern music.
Music in the British Isles, from the earliest recorded times until the Baroque and the rise of recognisably modern classical music, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite.Each of the major nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation, but British music was highly influenced by continental developments, while British composers made an important contribution to many of the major movements in early music in Europe, including the polyphony of the Ars Nova and laid some of the foundations of later national and international classical music. Musicians from the British Isles also developed some distinctive forms of music, including Celtic chant, the Contenance Angloise, the rota, polyphonic votive antiphons and the carol in the medieval era.
Church music and religious music were profoundly affected by the Protestant Reformation which affected Britain from the 16th century, which curtailed events associated with British music and forced the development of distinctive national music, worship and belief. English madrigals, lute ayres and masques in the Renaissance era led particularly to English language opera developed in the early Baroque period of the later seventeenth century.In contrast, court music of the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, although having unique elements remained much more integrated into wider European culture.
The Baroque era in music, between the early music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods and the development of fully fledged and formalised orchestral classical music in the second half of the eighteenth century, was characterised by more elaborate musical ornamentation, changes in musical notation, new instrumental playing techniques and the rise of new genres such as opera. Although the term Baroque is conventionally used for European music from about 1600, its full effects were not felt in Britain until after 1660, delayed by native trends and developments in music, religious and cultural differences from many European countries and the disruption to court music caused by the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and Interregnum.Under the restored Stuart monarchy the court became once again a centre of musical patronage, but royal interest in music tended to be less significant as the seventeenth century progressed, to be revived again under the House of Hanover.
British chamber and orchestral music drew inspiration from continental Europe as it developed into modern classical music. The Baroque era in British music can be seen as one of an interaction of national and international trends, sometimes absorbing continental fashions and practices and sometimes attempting, as in the creation of ballad opera, to produce an indigenous tradition.However, arguably the most significant British composer of the era, George Frideric Handel, was a naturalised German, who helped integrate British and continental music and define the future of the classical music of the United Kingdom that would be officially formed in 1801. 2006
Musical composition, performance and training in the United Kingdom inherited European classical traditions of the eighteenth century (above all, in Britain, from the example of Handel) and saw a great expansion during the nineteenth century.Romantic nationalism encouraged clear national identities and sensibilities within the countries of the United Kingdom towards the end of the nineteenth century, producing many composers and musicians of note and drawing on the folk tradition. These traditions, including the cultural strands drawn from the United Kingdom's constituent nations and provinces, continued to evolve in distinctive ways through the work of such composers as Arthur Sullivan, Gustav Holst, Edward Elgar, Hubert Parry, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. Notable living English classical composers include Harrison Birtwistle, Michael Nyman, James MacMillan, Jeremy Peyton Jones, Gavin Bryars, and Andrew Poppy.
Each of the four countries of the United Kingdom has its own diverse and distinctive folk music forms. 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 three folk revivals, one in the late-19th century, one in the mid-20th century and one at the start of the 21st century which keeps folk music as an important sub-culture within society.
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. Through three periods of revival from the late nineteenth century much of the tradition has been preserved and continues to be practiced.It led to the creation of a number of fusions with other forms of music that produced subgenres such as British folk rock, folk punk and folk metal and continues to thrive nationally and in regional scenes, particularly in areas such as Northumbria and Cornwall.
Ireland, including Northern Ireland, has vibrant folk traditions. The popularity of traditional instruments such as fiddles has remained throughout the centuries even as analogues in Great Britain died out. Perhaps the most famous modern musician from Northern Ireland influenced by folk tradition is Van Morrison.
Scottish folk music includes many kinds of songs, including ballads and laments, sung by a single singer with accompaniment by bagpipes, fiddles or harps. Traditional dances include waltzes, reels, strathspeys and jigs. Alongside the other areas of the United Kingdom, Scotland underwent a roots revival in the 1960s. Cathy-Ann McPhee and Jeannie Robertson were the heroes of this revival, which inspired some revolutions in band formats by groups like The Clutha, The Whistlebinkies, The Boys of the Lough and the Incredible String Band.
Wales is a Celtic country that features folk music played at twmpathau (communal dances) and gwyl werin (music festivals). Welsh music also includes male voice choirs and songs accompanied by a harp. Having long been subordinate to English culture, Welsh musicians in the late 20th century had to reconstruct traditional music when a roots revival began. This revival began in the late 1970s and achieved some mainstream success in the UK in the 1980s with performers like Robin Huw Bowen, Moniars and Gwerinos.
In the sense of commercial music enjoyed by the people, British popular music can be seen to originate in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the arrival of the broadside ballad, which were sold cheaply and in great numbers until the nineteenth century.Further technological, economic and social changes led to new forms of music in the 20th century, including the brass band, which produced a popular and communal form of classical music. Similarly, the music hall sprang up to cater for the entertainment of new urban societies, adapting existing forms of music to produce popular songs and acts. In the 1930s, the influence of American Jazz led to the creation of British dance bands, who provided a social and popular music that began to dominate social occasions and the radio airwaves.
Forms of popular music, including folk music, jazz, rapping/hip hop, pop and rock music, have particularly flourished in Britain since the twentieth century. Britain has influenced popular music disproportionately to its size, due to its linguistic and cultural links with many countries, particularly the United States and many of its former colonies like Australia, South Africa, and Canada, and its capacity for invention, innovation and fusion, which has led to the development of, or participation in, many of the major trends in popular music.In the early-20th century, influences from the United States 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 is particularly true since the early 1960s when the British Invasion, led by The Beatles, helped to secure British performers a major place in development of pop and rock music. Since then, rock music and popular music contributed to a British-American collaboration, with trans-Atlantic genres being exchanged and exported to one another, where they tended to be adapted and turned into new movements, only to be exported back again. Genres originating in or radically developed by British musicians include blues rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, ska, hard rock, punk rock, Bhangra, British folk rock, folk punk, acid jazz, trip hop, shoegaze, drum and bass, goth rock, grime, afroswing, Britpop, Industrial and dubstep.
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk music and rock music, which arose in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. In the U.S., folk rock emerged from the folk music revival and the influence that the Beatles and other British Invasion bands had on members of that movement. Performers such as Bob Dylan and the Byrds—several of whose members had earlier played in folk ensembles—attempted to blend the sounds of rock with their pre-existing folk repertoire, adopting the use of electric instrumentation and drums in a way previously discouraged in the U.S. folk community. The term "folk rock" was initially used in the U.S. music press in June 1965 to describe the Byrds' music.
The music of the United States reflects the country's pluri-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. It is a mixture of music influenced by West African, Irish, Scottish and mainland European cultures among others. The country's most internationally renowned genres are jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, americana (music), rock, rhythm and blues, soul, ragtime, funk, hip hop, doo wop, pop, techno, house, folk music, disco, boogaloo, reggaeton, and salsa. American music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near-global audience.
Germany claims some of the most renowned composers, singers, producers and performers of the world. Germany is the largest music market in Europe, and third largest in the world.
The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. These compositions have existed for millennia: they originated in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity; there is a continuous development which appears in the language, the rhythm, the structure and the melody. Music is a significant aspect of Hellenic culture, both within Greece and in the diaspora.
The term American folk music encompasses numerous music genres, variously known as traditional music, traditional folk music, contemporary folk music, or roots music. Many traditional songs have been sung within the same family or folk group for generations, and sometimes trace back to such origins as Great Britain, Europe, or Africa. Musician Mike Seeger once famously commented that the definition of American folk music is "...all the music that fits between the cracks."
British popular music and popular music in general, can be defined in a number of ways, but is used here to describe music which is not part of the art/classical music or Church music traditions, including folk music, jazz, pop and rock music. These forms of music have particularly flourished in Britain, which, it has been argued, has influenced popular music disproportionately to its size, partly due to its linguistic and cultural links with many countries, particularly the former areas of British control such as United States, Canada, and Australia, but also a capacity for invention, innovation and fusion, which has led to the development of, or participation in, many of the major trends in popular music. This is particularly true since the early 1960s when the British Invasion led by The Beatles, helped to secure British performers a major place in development of pop and rock music, which has been revisited at various times, with genres originating in or being radically developed by British musicians, including: blues rock, heavy metal music, progressive rock, punk rock, British folk rock, folk punk, acid jazz, drum and bass, grime, afroswing, dubstep and Britpop.
The folk music of England is tradition-based music, which has existed since the later medieval period. It is often contrasted with courtly, classical and later commercial music. Folk music has been preserved and transmitted orally, through print and later through recordings. The term is used to refer to English traditional music and music composed, or delivered, in a traditional style. English folk music has produced or contributed to several important musical genres, including sea shanties, jigs, hornpipes and dance music, such as that used for Morris dancing. It can be seen as having distinct regional and local variations in content and style, particularly in areas more removed from the cultural and political centres of the English state, as in Northumbria, or the West Country. Cultural interchange and processes of migration mean that English folk music, although in many ways distinctive, has particularly interacted with the music of Scotland. It has also interacted with other musical traditions, particularly classical and rock music, influencing musical styles and producing musical fusions, such as British folk rock, folk punk and folk metal. There remains a flourishing sub-culture of English folk music, which continues to influence other genres and occasionally gains mainstream attention.
Portuguese music includes many different styles and genres, as a result of its history. These can be broadly divided into classical music, traditional/folk music and popular music and all of them have produced internationally successful acts, with the country seeing a recent expansion in musical styles, especially in popular music.
Scotland is internationally known for its traditional music, which remained vibrant throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, when many traditional forms worldwide lost popularity to pop music. In spite of emigration and a well-developed connection to music imported from the rest of Europe and the United States, the music of Scotland has kept many of its traditional aspects; indeed, it has itself influenced many forms of music.
Scottish folk music is music that uses forms that are identified as part of the Scottish musical tradition. There is evidence that there was a flourishing culture of popular music in Scotland during the late Middle Ages, but the only song with a melody to survive from this period is the "Pleugh Song". After the Reformation, the secular popular tradition of music continued, despite attempts by the Kirk, particularly in the Lowlands, to suppress dancing and events like penny weddings. The first clear reference to the use of the Highland bagpipes mentions their use at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547. The Highlands in the early seventeenth century saw the development of piping families including the MacCrimmons, MacArthurs, MacGregors and the Mackays of Gairloch. There is also evidence of adoption of the fiddle in the Highlands. Well-known musicians included the fiddler Pattie Birnie and the piper Habbie Simpson. This tradition continued into the nineteenth century, with major figures such as the fiddlers Neil and his son Nathaniel Gow. There is evidence of ballads from this period. Some may date back to the late Medieval era and deal with events and people that can be traced back as far as the thirteenth century. They remained an oral tradition until they were collected as folk songs in the eighteenth century.
Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.
The expression Italian popular music refers to the musical output which is not usually considered academic or Classical music but rather have its roots in the popular traditions, and it may be defined in two ways: it can either be defined in terms of the current geographical location of the Italian Republic with the exceptions of the Germanic South Tyrol and the eastern portion of Friuli Venezia Giulia; alternatively it can be defined as the music produced by all those people who consider themselves as Italians and openly or implicitly refer to this belief. Both these two definitions are very loose: due to the complex political history of the Italian Peninsula and the different independent political states, cultural and linguistic traditions which sprang within them, it is rather difficult to define what may be considered to be truly Italian. Since before the formation of a unified educational system and the spread of information through the radio and the press during the twenties, all the different cultural and linguistic groups within the country were independent from one another, and a unified Italian Country was still only a political or ideological concept far from the daily life.
Progressive folk was originally a type of American folk music that pursued a progressive political agenda, but in the United Kingdom the term became attached to a musical subgenre. The latter describes a substyle of contemporary folk that draws from post-Bob Dylan folk music and adds new layers of musical and lyrical complexity, often incorporating various ethnic influences.
Australian folk music is the traditional music from the large variety of immigrant cultures and those of the original Australian inhabitants.
The British folk revival incorporates a number of movements for the collection, preservation and performance of folk music in the United Kingdom and related territories and countries, which had origins as early as the 18th century. It is particularly associated with two movements, usually referred to as the first and second revivals, respectively in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and the mid-20th century. The first included increased interest in and study of traditional folk music, the second was a part of the birth of contemporary folk music. These had a profound impact on the development of British classical music and in the creation of a "national" or "pastoral" school and led to the creation of a sub-culture of folk clubs and folk festivals as well as influential subgenres including progressive folk music and British folk rock.
Baroque music of the British Isles bridged the gap between the early music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods and the development of fully fledged and formalised orchestral classical music in the second half of the eighteenth century. It was characterised by more elaborate musical ornamentation, changes in musical notation, new instrumental playing techniques and the rise of new genres such as opera. Although the term Baroque is conventionally used for European music from about 1600, its full effects were not felt in Britain until after 1660, delayed by native trends and developments in music, religious and cultural differences from many European countries and the disruption to court music caused by the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and Interregnum. Under the restored Stuart monarchy the court became once again a centre of musical patronage, but royal interest in music tended to be less significant as the seventeenth century progressed, to be revived again under the House of Hanover. The Baroque era in British music can be seen as one of an interaction of national and international trends, sometimes absorbing continental fashions and practices and sometimes attempting, as in the creation of ballad opera, to produce an indigenous tradition. However, arguably the most significant British composer of the era, George Frideric Handel, was a naturalised German, who helped integrate British and continental music and define the future of the classical music of the United Kingdom that would be officially formed in 1801.
Music of the United Kingdom began to develop in the 1950s; from largely insular and derivative forms to become one of the leading centres of popular music in the modern world. By 1950 indigenous forms of British popular music, including folk music, brass and silver bands, music hall and dance bands, were already giving way to the influence of American forms of music including jazz, swing and traditional pop, mediated through film and records.
Music of the United Kingdom developed in the 1960s into one of the leading forms of popular music in the modern world. By the early 1960s the British had developed a viable national music industry and began to produce adapted forms of American music in Beat music and British blues which would be re-exported to America by bands such as The Beatles, The Animals and Rolling Stones. This helped to make the dominant forms of popular music something of a shared Anglo-American creation, and led to the growing distinction between pop and rock music, which began to develop into diverse and creative subgenres that would characterise the form throughout the rest of the twentieth century.