The Elizabethan Era, named for Queen Elizabeth I, the reigning queen of England from 1558 to 1603 is also known as The Golden Age of English History. This was a time in which music flourished along with other art forms including literature, painting, sculpting, fashion and architecture. Music during this era played a significant role in the lives of citizens from all social classes and also led to many composers and songs becoming famous. Although music of today is very different in comparison, it was affected and molded by the music of the Elizabethan Era.
Elizabethan music affected almost every area of a person’s life and was divided into five different types. These types were church music, theatre music, court music, street music and town music. Music during this era originated with poetry being sung. The music of this era was known for its steady rhythm and its polyphony. Polyphony is the use of establishing a simple main theme at the beginning and then playing it in a more complex manner. Elizabethan music was also marked by its keen ability to reflect a variety of moods and emotions.
Though the Puritans of the era wanted to eliminate music in a church setting, nonetheless, church music began being incorporated into the services. The style of music composed for church use was known as choral polyphony. Many composers of church music also composed music for the court. The most well known composers of this type music were Robert Parsons, John Cosyn and William Damon. They wrote songs for church use that were uplifting and inspiring. Hundreds of hymns were written during this time and many of them are still being sung. The Elizabethan arrangement of The Psalms is still sung in churches today.
In 1562 music was incorporated into theatrical performances. William Shakespeare, whose plays
are among the most well known, divided his works into three categories. These categories were
comedies, tragedies and histories. Each of the categories conveyed different emotions. Music
was first used in a theatrical setting during a performance of Gorboduc, in 1562, which was a
tragedy and it was very well received. The...