Christmas carols: a brief history

Course Dates: 04/12/19
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Discover the rich heritage of Christmas carols. Learn about traditional forms of the carol and the history behind selected examples from the medieval to twentieth century.


What is the course about?

This course will focus on the carols written for the Christian celebration of Christmas and its associated feasts: Advent and Epiphany. We may also consider a few carols from the feast of the Annuciation, which in medieval times were traditionally sung at Christmas. Many of the carol tunes will be known from modern, regularised versions but they will be studied here in their older forms.

What will we cover?

- What is a carol
- various forms of carols
- What makes a Carol a ‘Christmas Carol’
- Technical language of carols: burden, refrain etc…
- Examples of Christmas carols in manuscript and performance.

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

- recognise key forms of Christmas carols (including ‘traditional’ examples)
- feel confident using some technical language to describe carols
- read lyrics and recognise several common themes.

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

This course is suitable for absolute beginners. However, we will look at some music manuscripts and learn to identify key features of music notation (how many voices are singing, etc…) so this course will be most suitable for those who are curious and ambitious to learn.

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

The single session will comprise combinations of lecture, question-and-answer, guided listening, video and manuscript study. You may wish to do extra reading after this class and suggestions will be made for this.
There will also be Spotify and Youtube playlists for this course if you wish to do extra listening.

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

You will need to bring a pen/pencil and a folder to keep your notes and handouts organised. You may also wish to purchase some of the music books or recordings discussed in class, links to these materials will be available online after the session.

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

To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme 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.

Tutor Biographies
Edward Breen Tutor Website

Edward teaches music history and music theory at City lit where he is Head of Programme: Advanced Studies in the School of Performing Arts. His specialism is early music (medieval, renaissance and baroque periods) and he completed his PhD in historical musicology at King's College London (2013) on the performance of medieval music. Outside of teaching, Edward is a regular contributor to Gramophone magazine and has lectured for Dartington International Summer School, London's Southbank Centre and The British Library. He has also worked as a researcher for BBC Proms and written for the journal Early Music (OUP). His recent essays are published in: The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Historical Performance in Music, (Cambridge University Press); The Montpellier Codex: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music 16 (Boydell Press); Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen (Ashgate 2018); and 30-Second Classical Music (Ivy Press).

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.

Book your place

Course Code: MD040A

Wed, day, 04 Dec - 04 Dec '19

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £29.00
Senior fee: £23.00
Concession: £18.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2630

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.