Music in Elizabethan England

February 11, 2017
Play at an Elizabethan Inn

Picture of Queen Elizabeth I

  • Famous Elizabethan Dancing Masters
  • List and description of Elizabethan Dances of the Upper Class
  • List and description of Elizabethan Dances of the Lower Class & Elizabethan Country Dances

Picture of Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabethan Dance

Elizabethan Music - Elizabethan Dance
Elizabethan Music complemented the different forms of Elizabethan Dance. Dancing was an extremely popular pastime during the Elizabethan era. Dancing in the Elizabethan era was considered "a wholesome recreation of the mind and also an exercise of the body". The emergence of different styles of music and new musical instruments combined with various experiments combining different instruments led to new dances being created. Elizabethan dance varied according to the social class.

The court dances enjoyed by royalty, nobility and the Upper classes were often imported from Italy, Spain or France. These dance forms varied considerably from the energetic Galliard to the refined and stately Pavane. The lower classes enjoyed the more traditional country dances such as the Jig, Morris Dancing or the Brand or the Brawle which were closely associated with the customs and festivals celebrated in Elizabethan England.

Elizabethan Dance - Dances of the Upper Class

Elizabethan dances differed between the Upper and Lower Classes. The Upper Classes enjoyed new types of music at court. They had a taste for new music and new dances.

Many courtiers travelled abroad and returned to the Elizabethan court with dances from Italy, Spain and France. These foreign influences were found in the development of new Elizabethan court dances and music. These new dances had to be learnt and Dancing Masters were suitably employed. These Elizabethan dances were highly sophisticated and stately with intricate steps and nuances, although the old favorite English country dances were still popular. Many of the Court dances were performed as couples and the suggestive Elizabethan court dance called the Volt was the only dance which allowed the dancers to embrace closely. The form of entertainment called the Masque was popular with the Upper classes. Masques were accompanied with music and dance at the beginning and end of the performances and during the interludes. The dances which accompanied the masques had unusual names such as the 'Tinternell', 'Maske of Queens', 'The Earl of Essex's Measure', Lord Zouch's Maske and the 'Turkeylony' - many of these titles reflected the names of the patrons. The most important Elizabethan dances were the Pavan, Galliards and Almain.

Source: www.elizabethan-era.org.uk
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