Continuity, change and the emergence of idiomatic organ repertoire in seventeenth-century England

David J. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The Reformation in the sixteenth century meant that there was no place left for chant-based polyphonic organ music, but just as the Latin Mass and motet were replaced by the English anthem and service, so too was the Catholic organ repertoire replaced by 'verse' and 'voluntary'. The use of 'voluntary' to describe organ music used liturgically in the latter part of the seventeenth century has led to a more general association of voluntary, verse and other contrapuntal genres with the organ and therefore with church music. Fantasias and voluntaries provided an opportunity to work in a polyphonic idiom free of chant or any other pre-existing material. In terms of both virginal and organ music there was a remarkable consistency throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From the middle of the seventeenth century, writing for keyboard music intended for harpsichord or virginal became much more idiomatic, reflecting French style in terms of ornamentation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in English Organ Music
EditorsIain Quinn
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781315163857
ISBN (Print)9781138059139
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameAshgate Historical Keyboard Music Series

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