British folk music: a rough guide

Course Dates: 20/04/21 - 29/06/21
Time: 18:20 - 20:30
Location: Online
Explore the recent history of British folk music and discuss some of the key performing artists on this overview course. This course has a scheduled break week: 8 June 2021.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £209.00 Senior fee £209.00 Concession £127.00

This course has now started

Course Code: MD809

Started Tue, eve, 20 Apr - 29 Jun '21

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Learn how post-war British folk drew on the rich heritage of British traditional songs of magic, lust and murder. Artists studied will include: Shirley Collins, Martin Carthy, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, the Unthanks and (Trad.).

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

- The UK Folk Revivals: Francis James Child and Cecil Sharp etc in the 1890s/1900s; Ewan McColl and AL Lloyd in the 1940s/1950s; rise of folk clubs in late 50s/60s; impact of Dylan; folk music and the counterculture.
- Shirley Collins (and Dolly Collins)
- Martin Carthy (and Dave Swarbrick)
- Ann Briggs, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and The Watersons
- British Electric Folk 1: Fairport Convention
- British Electric Folk 2: Steeleye Span
- British Electric Folk 3: Mr Fox, The Albion Band, Trees, 5 Hand Reel.
- Murder, Lust and Magic: studies of four key British ballads
- The ‘lost’ years – the 80s and 90s: Martin Simpson, June Tabor and Dick Gaughan
- Millennial Folk Revival: Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy, Lisa Knapp, The Unthanks, Jim Moray, Bellowhead, Chris Wood etc.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Relate the key stages in the history of British folk music
- Isolate several key British folk singers/act and albums.
- Begin to characterise folk songs into groups, genres and styles.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

All you need is a basic appreciation of music in general and enthusiasm for British folk music in particular, and an open mind! You do not need to be able to read music or understand musical terminology (though your teacher will introduce some easy musicology).
All texts – handouts, PowerPoint presentations - will be in English.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate
Listening and reading outside class is encouraged and once enrolled further online resources will be available.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring a notebook and pen.
You may wish to buy some of the music or books recommended in class.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

Toby Manning

Toby Manning teaches and writes about music, literature, television and film. As a music journalist he wrote regularly for NME, Select, Q, The Word, The Big Issue, and has also contributed to The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, Arena, The Quietus and The Face. He is the author of the Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (2006; 2016) (link to the new version: He is also the author of John le Carré and the Cold War (2018). He is currently working on a book of new music writing and a book about Cold War books, film and music.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.