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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the complex role of songs and ballads in Britain from the 1760s to the 1830s. It traces the emergence of a new critical discourse about song and explores how songs and ballads were presented to the public by publishers. It investigates the lyric form as it was understood and utilized by Romantic writers and discusses the importance of antiquity within modern song culture, as well the relationship between popular and art song. The chapter shows how Romantic authors worked with songs in a variety of ways, from writing about songs (Clare) and producing texts to match existing melodies (Clare, Burns, Moore) to finding inspiration in the power of live performance (Wordsworth, Shelley). Contemporary interest in the genre of national song, shaped by historical factors including the Irish Rebellion and the Napoleonic wars, is traced through the work of Moore, Hemans, and Dibdin.

Keywords: song, ballad, lyric, bard, minstrel, orality, aurality, performance, national song, singer

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