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By the time of Henry the VIII the English were recognized throughout Europe as a musical nation. Erasmus writes � they excel the whole world in the beauty of their women, their knowledge of music and the excellence of their table.� The folk music of England evolved over the centuries to produce a quintessentially English quality that bore no resemblance to the folk music of any other land. The use of poetry was a powerful influence on the character of the English song and composers continually strove to fit the music closely to the poetry to add pathos to the words. In Henry Lawes collection of �Ayres and Dialogues� there are many fine examples of the marriage of sound to sense and Lawes desired to �set words with just note and accent.�
Henry Lawes was unquestionably the foremost name among the songwriters of the reign of Charles I. His songs have no characteristic of the Italian music of the day his main characteristic being the desire to fit the music to the metre of the words, so they are thoroughly English.
Reviews of English Song: Lawes, H. - About the sweet bag of a bee - arr. for Soprano & String Quartet by Gerald Manning
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