Establishing an intersection between the fields of traditional music studies, English folk music history and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, this book responds to the problematic emphasis on cultural identity in the way traditional music is understood and valued.

Williams locates the roots of contemporary definitions of traditional music, including UNESCO-designated intangible cultural heritage, in the theory of English folk music developed in 1907 by Cecil Sharp. Through a combination of Deleuzian philosophical analysis and historical revision of England’s folk revival of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, Williams makes a compelling argument that identity is a restrictive ideology that runs counter to the material processes of traditional music’s production. Williams reimagines Sharp’s appropriation of Darwinian evolutionary concepts, asking what it would mean today to say that traditional music ‘evolves’, in light of recent advances in evolutionary theory. The book ultimately advances a concept of traditional music that eschews the term’s long-standing ontological and axiological foundations in the principle of identity.

For scholars and graduate students in musicology, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology, the book is an ambitious and provocative challenge to entrenched habits of thought in the study of traditional music and the historiography of England’s folk revival.

chapter |10 pages


Traditional Music and the Principle of Identity

part 2|51 pages

Majoritarian Identities and Minor Musics in England's Folk Revival

chapter 6|13 pages

Songs of the West

English Folk Music and the Celtic Imaginary

chapter 7|12 pages

Songs of the Open Road

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Music, and the Interculturality of English Traditions

chapter 8|14 pages

Music of the Waters

English Sea Chanties and the Black Atlantic

part 3|39 pages

Traditional Music, Affect and the Folding of Dividual Subjectivities

chapter 9|21 pages

Frank Kidson

Vital Melodies and the Intensity of History

chapter 10|16 pages

Lucy Broadwood

Collecting Beautiful Mysteries

part 4|36 pages

Evolutionary Thought and the Rhizomatic Production of Traditional Music

chapter 11|14 pages

Lines and Lineages

Arborescent Evolutionary Theories of Traditional Music

chapter 12|20 pages

From Chaos to Song

Towards a Rhizomatic Evolutionary Theory of Traditional Music