chapter  5
The idea of English music: Identity, ethnicity and musical style
Pages 16

English music reflects influence from further afield as well as contributing to ideas outside its borders, and the ways in which this has occurred has been imagined and documented in many accounts from the Middle Ages to the present day. Music moved with musicians, and there were numerous reasons for musically trained people – especially but not exclusively those employed by the church – to take their practices around the country and beyond. Whether for study, diplomatic service or pilgrimage, many musicians would have travelled, taking with them current knowledge of repertoire and notation. Nevertheless, we have a limited picture of such movement. Crucial data have been lost, such as the records of many noble household chapels. Some travels have left little impression on the records: consider, for example, the musical sounds associated with pilgrimage to major sites such as Canterbury or Santiago de Compostela. What songs and vocal styles did someone like lay pilgrim Margery Kempe (c. 1373-after 1439) hear on her journey to the Holy Land? What music did she hear at Mass or in the streets of Venice, Rome, Lincoln, Aachen, Calais, London or Jaffa? What differences between English and foreign musics and performance styles would Margery have perceived as an active and sensitive listener at Mass, ‘herying hir messe’ as she put it?1