Music in Anglo-Saxon England

(2263 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Anglo-Saxon texts, whether in Latin or Old English, contain many references to music and musicians, and much of the most important evidence for our knowledge of music in Anglo-Saxon England derives from such texts, although archaeological finds and manuscript illustrations of musicians and musical instruments are also of value. Only a tiny amount of the music performed and sung in Anglo-Saxon England was ever written down, of that only a fraction survives, and of that fraction much remains indecipherable.

The only music from Anglo-Saxon England which still survives and can now be deciphered is music setting Latin liturgical texts. Almost all this liturgical music is plainchant (or plainsong): monophonic music consisting of a …

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Phelpstead, Carl. "Music in Anglo-Saxon England". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 March 2003
[, accessed 06 October 2015.]