Mapping English Song

The map below is an interactive, visual guide to the music of medieval England, from the polyphonic compositions of the Winchester Troper (ca 1000 AD) and the Old Hall manuscript (compiled ca 1421) to the monastic chants of Sarum and Syon.  It provides some historical context for the small number of musical compositions which survived the English Reformation.  What is “English” song, after all?  Many of the composers, manuscripts, and performers represented here spent significant time outside England.  Place is a difficult category in medieval performance, but of real importance: nearly all of the compositions represented here were meant to be sung in a specific liturgical setting, and, in the case of the Nuns of Syon, the song itself was cloistered, a part of the manifestation of the liturgical space itself.  Medieval song thus shows itself to be both in place and placeless.  This map, always in development, welcomes and troubles the work of music in its many contexts in the medieval period.

To use the map, toggle between different musical networks by using the windowpane icon in the upper left.  To hear audio examples, select any location with a star.  For further information off-site, follow the links to other pages.