Drink, Dance, and Devotion: The Role of Restoration Popular Music in Creating a Protestant English National Identity

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In Restoration England (1660–1707), religious disputes between Protestants and Catholics dominated not only politics but everyday life and mapped onto the long-simmering conflicts between England and France. Popular music both referenced these seemingly constant tensions and also participated in reifying the antagonistic, xenophobic relationship between the two religions and regions. Drawing upon theories of musical topic, intertextuality, semiotics, and nationalism, this dissertation presents three case studies of how Restoration popular music helped to create a Protestant English national identity. The folia, a ground bass and one of the most popular foundations for musical structure in the history of Western art music, became disassociated from its original genre and, through texts and performance practices, became a set of fixed melodies that indexed and embodied a community among those in Restoration England. Building on this idea, a second case study expands the musical content from melody to genre by focusing on the cibell dance and how it functioned to produce a sense of historical continuity in England, eventually becoming an invented tradition. In a final case study, the musical focus is expanded yet again to consider both the metrical psalm and ballad genres. The musical and thematic relationship between the proper tune for Psalm 124 and the ballad tune “Fortune My Foe” speaks to how popular music moved across boundaries of venue and genre, and in doing so, helped to make commonplace the idea of the Protestant Self—defined against the Catholic Other—as the standard for belonging in and to England.