Episode 101: The Birth of English Song

Advances in musical notation allowed the first English folk songs to be preserved in writing in the early 1200s. These songs include “Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast”ย  and “Sumer Is Icumen In.” In this episode, we explore the Greek contribution to music, and trace those developments to Medieval England and the earliest songs composed in the English language.

15 thoughts on “Episode 101: The Birth of English Song

  1. Sumer is Icumen In is also the first song written down in the C-major scale, not in an older mode. This makes it the oldest piece of modern music, if great interest to all Western mudic.

  2. Enjoyed this episode a lot. One note: “Bleat” (as in the sound a sheep makes) is still in common use in Australian English (and I think British English as well)

    • In the US too, though I have to ensure I enunciate EXTREMELY well, or people think I’m saying “bleeding”- consonantal merger underway?

      Either way, I use bleat when I talk about my sheep.

  3. Loved it! Very well done. In this episode you’ve combined two of my favorite topics (music and English language origins) and knocked it out of the ballpark! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The History of English is now my favorite podcast. Thanks for keeping it going!

  4. Love this podcast and love this episode! I just recently discovered this fascinating treasure trove and am going through the earlier podcasts that I originally missed. Most of my podcast listening is ‘casual’ — I go about my daily business while listening. Not this one! I am at complete attention on every carefully chosen word. Thank you, thank you!

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