The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape

The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape➥ [Epub] ➟ The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape By Richard King ➯ – Bluevapours.co.uk ROUGH TRADE AND CAUGHT BY THE RIVER BOOK OF THE MONTHThe Lark Ascending , Ralph Vaughan Williams pastoral romance for orchestra was premiered on June, Over the course of the twentieth century this p ROUGH TRADE AND CAUGHT BY THE RIVER Ascending: The eBook ☆ BOOK OF THE MONTHThe Lark Ascending , Ralph Vaughan Williams pastoral romance for orchestra was premiered onJune,Over the course of the twentieth century this piece of music, perhaps than any other, worked its way into the collective consciousness to seemingly define a mythical concept of the English countryside babbling brooks, skylarks, hayricks But the birth and legacy of the composition are much complex than this simplified pastoral vision suggests The landscape we celebrate as unsullied and The Lark MOBI :✓ ripe with mystique is a living, working, and occasionally rancorous environment not an unaffected idyll that forged a nation s musical personality, and its dissenting traditionsOn a chronological journey that takes him from postwar poets and artists to the late twentieth century and the free party scene which emerged from acid house and travelling communities, Richard King explores how Britain s history and identity has been shaped by the mysterious relationship between music and nature From the far west of Wales to the Thames Lark Ascending: The PDF Í Estuary and the Suffolk shoreline, taking in Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Boards of Canada, Dylan Thomas, Gavin Bryars, Greenham Common and The Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, The Lark Ascending listens to the land and the music that emerged from it, to chart a new and surprising course through a familiar landscape.

Librarian Note There isthan one author in Ascending: The eBook ☆ the Goodreads database with this name This profile may contain books from multiple authors of this name.

The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape
  • Hardcover
  • 346 pages
  • The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape
  • Richard King
  • 20 June 2017
  • 0571338798

10 thoughts on “The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape

  1. Joseph says:

    In the past years, particularly in Britain, there seems to be a widespread urge to reconnect to the landscape and to the nation s rural past Is this an escape from the stress of 21st Century urban life Does it stem from disillusionment at the current political scene Is it an expression of a search for an alternative spiritual source, outside the norms of mainstream religion s Is it simply another facet to contemporary ecological concerns I will hazard no guess, but this cultural phenomenon In the past years, particularly in Britain, there seems to be a widespread urge to reconnect to the landscape and to the nation s rural past Is this an escape from the stress of 21st Century urban life Does it stem from disillusionment at the current political scene Is it an expression of a search for an alternative spiritual source, outside the norms of mainstream religion s Is it simply another facet to contemporary ecological concerns I will hazard no guess, but this cultural phenomenon is inescapable and manifests itself in a myriad of ways from the newfound popularity of travel and nature writing to a rediscovery of ancient pilgrimage routes, from a resurgence of interest in folklore and traditional music to a renewed obsession with folk horror in literature and cinema.Richard King s The Lark Ascending taps into the zeitgeist Its title refers to a composition for violin and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams, possibly the composer who did most to wed the tunes of British traditional music to classical forms Inspired by a poem by George Meredith, RVW s famous work portrays the flight and song of the eponymous lark through soaring folk tinged melodies King takes this piece as a starting point for an exploration of 20th Century British mainly English music and its connection to landscape and rural life In particular, the book provides intriguing insights into how the landscape has been politicised across the decades of the last century It may come as a surprise, for instance, that between the wars, the concept of the land was glorified at either end of the political spectrum on the one hand by left wingers who believed in public access to the land and, on the other hand, by right wingers for whom the call of the land chimed with the blood and soil mentality influenced by Nazi Germany After the war, the land became a veritable and in some cases, literal battleground reflecting wider class struggles History tends to repeat itself and, in the book, a pattern start to establish itself fringe communities settling in rural outposts such as the Travellers converging on Stonehenge and being broken up either by the authorities as in the infamous Battle of the Beanfield or, sometimes eveneffectively, by their own popularity as in the case of the open air free raves of the 1990s before they entered the capitalist mainstream Throughout this intriguing, alternative history of Britain s landscape, there is the sound of music, weaving in and out of the narrative, acting sometimes as subject and at others as commentary King s choices reach far and wide from good old Ralph, that least typical of typical Englishman as he is described in the acknowledgments section at the end of the book to the folktronica of Ultramarine and Boards of Canada, via the folk prog rock of the 60s and 70s, the experimental works of Gavin Bryars, Brian Eno and Michael Nyman, the stateless world music of the Penguin Caf Orchestra, the lyricism of Kate Bush and muchAs mixtapes go, there can hardly be aeclectic one than that compiled by Richard King.Every traveller follows their own itinerary and I am quite sure that different readers may have approached the subject through different choices of music depending on their background In my case, for instance, the choices would have veeredtowards the classical music world Ralph Vaughan Williams is just one of several composers of the pastoralist school George Butterworth and Gustav Holst come to mind, but they only get a passing mention in the book the less lucky Gerald Finzi gets none Benjamin Britten was one of the major figures in 20th century English music and his oeuvre is shaped by the bleak coastal landscape of Suffolk and the town of Aldeburgh which he made his home He is not featured King mentions the rock artists who moved to rural Wales and Scotland but does not refer to Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen s Music, whose musical style changed radically when he settled in remote Orkney From the jazz scene, I m rather surprised at the non inclusion of John Surman, an ECM label stalwart who has combined the seemingly disparate influences of John Coltrane and English folk in albums such Road to St Ives and Saltash Bells On the other hand, much as I enjoyed the chapters on Gavin Bryars and the Penguin Caf Orchestra, I also felt that their link to the landscape theme was, to say the least, tenuous But I m not complaining I do appreciate that Richard King s book is a very personal one, and therefore also bound to reflect personal choices I also couldn t help feeling that some of the musical movements portrayed in the book especially in the final chapters tend to be rather over romanticised It is, obviously, natural and just, that one should sympathise with fringe groups such as the Travellers who were often the victims of aggressive, heavy handed and indeed illegal actions by the police and the authorities However, there were also less savoury aspects to these groups These include prevalent drug use, which, in this book, tends to be shown in a benign light either as a contributing factor to the spiritual aura of open air music festivals or, at worst, as an unpleasant but excusable side effect of the injustices suffered by these outsiders at the hands of the law Whether one agrees or not with certain aspects of the book, including the choice of featured music, The Lark Ascending is essential reading and not just for music lovers Its distinctive mixture of nature writing, music criticism and cultural history, spiced with elements of memoir and psychogeography, never fails to be original and fascinating

  2. Paul says:

    The piece of music behind the title of the book was first played in 1921 Ralph Vaughan Williams evocative piece has filtered its way into the national consciousness to portray a gentle countryside of meadows, quiet country lanes and of course, skylarks But this rose tinted view of a past that probably didn t even exist Unless you were in the upper echelons of society, living on the land was hard and relentless But that emotive connection we have to our landscape is the same one that connect The piece of music behind the title of the book was first played in 1921 Ralph Vaughan Williams evocative piece has filtered its way into the national consciousness to portray a gentle countryside of meadows, quiet country lanes and of course, skylarks But this rose tinted view of a past that probably didn t even exist Unless you were in the upper echelons of society, living on the land was hard and relentless But that emotive connection we have to our landscape is the same one that connects us to music.King meanders through the links that have existed between a variety of music genres and the countryside Some of the connections are obvious, folk music has very strong ties to the landscape and the farming seasons, but there are chapters on political action, Greenham Common, hippies and druids and most recently the Acid house scene and rave parties that were the precursor to clubbing.I thought that this was an interesting take for a subject on a book People connect to the landscape in all sorts of ways, and I had never thought of it with regards to music I wasinterested in thecontemporary accounts to do with the travelling community and rave culture in the later chapters in the book It was interesting how this bought all sorts of draconian laws to curb their excesses It did feel for a couple of the chapters that connections between the music elements and landscapes were an afterthought There is a playlist to go with the book here

  3. Steven says:

    Fascinating, if uneven, social history of 20th century Britain, told through the relationship between the land nature music Sometimes this idea doesn t always work such as the Greenham Common chapter sometimes there s too much music to mention without losing the narrative focus Nonetheless, the author succeeds in drawing a thread through some interesting points in recent history.Read this on holiday with some pretty fucking shonky WiFi, so this is going in the reread pile when I can enjo Fascinating, if uneven, social history of 20th century Britain, told through the relationship between the land nature music Sometimes this idea doesn t always work such as the Greenham Common chapter sometimes there s too much music to mention without losing the narrative focus Nonetheless, the author succeeds in drawing a thread through some interesting points in recent history.Read this on holiday with some pretty fucking shonky WiFi, so this is going in the reread pile when I can enjoy the music mentioned herein a bit

  4. Siobhan Markwell says:

    This was an enchanting and wide ranging read and had me Googling and listening to the musical pieces that are explored in these pages intensely King is sharp, knowledgeable and articulate and manages to meld music and landscape in a way that doesn t seem contrived He opened my eyes to some of the deeper narratives of tunes I thought I knew inside out and the biographical details were fascinating King voyages seamlessly from Vaughan Williams war experiences through Henry Williamson s fascism This was an enchanting and wide ranging read and had me Googling and listening to the musical pieces that are explored in these pages intensely King is sharp, knowledgeable and articulate and manages to meld music and landscape in a way that doesn t seem contrived He opened my eyes to some of the deeper narratives of tunes I thought I knew inside out and the biographical details were fascinating King voyages seamlessly from Vaughan Williams war experiences through Henry Williamson s fascism and arrives at the Battle of the Beanfield with just the right level of detail to be educative without being bogged down in the banal He paints British music and the landscapes that birthed it, both literal and social political, in vivid colours that can only open your eyes and ears to subtle new meanings I would read it again in a heartbeat and recommend wholeheartedly

  5. Marcus Wilson says:

    This book takes Ralph Vaughan Williams 1920 composition of the same name as its starting point and explores the changing face of the British countryside through the 20th century and of the individuals and musicians that have been inspired by it It is an interesting and sedate journey across the century and serves as a fascinating social history, introducing the reader to a wide variety of both the savoury and unsavoury characters who have found solace and identity in the nature of the English This book takes Ralph Vaughan Williams 1920 composition of the same name as its starting point and explores the changing face of the British countryside through the 20th century and of the individuals and musicians that have been inspired by it It is an interesting and sedate journey across the century and serves as a fascinating social history, introducing the reader to a wide variety of both the savoury and unsavoury characters who have found solace and identity in the nature of the English countryside We learn of those seeking to escape the horrors of WWI to the blood and country ugly politics of the inter war years which mixed communing with nature with a nationalist ideology and folk music dance that still pollutes much of the outside edges of folk music and on to back to basics pioneers like John Seymour who s West Wales small holding along with the books and programmes he made through the 60s and 70s championed the cause into a movement which was parodied in much loved British sitcom The Good Life I particularly enjoyed the later chapters which focus on the latter half of the century which were my formative years We get an overview all be it a one sided one of the Greenham Common Women s Peace Camp, the Peace Convoy, the free festivals which led to the infamous Battle of the Beanfield in 1985, and the early rave scene and of the various legislations introduced to curtail all these activities, namely the utterly despicable Criminal Justice Act.The book also serves as a handy music guide as we travel from Vaughan Williams via Cecil Sharp and the various folk archivists through the acid folk generation to Hawkwind, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Boards of Canada and beyond You will find yourself wanting to check much of it out, and that s a great thing, even if we don t get to hear muchof the voices of the actual musicians and their views on how the landscape had influenced their work

  6. Ivan Monckton says:

    I came across this book purely by accident The author did a couple of readings from it at a music art poetry event in Hay on Wye which I enjoyed and so bought the book from him It then got buried under other books to be read for a few months, but I am mightily glad I pulled it out of the pile a few days ago.The blurb on Goodreads is pretty extensive, but still does not really do justice to the book, which is ostensibly about the interaction of landscape and music If you are thinking ah, I came across this book purely by accident The author did a couple of readings from it at a music art poetry event in Hay on Wye which I enjoyed and so bought the book from him It then got buried under other books to be read for a few months, but I am mightily glad I pulled it out of the pile a few days ago.The blurb on Goodreads is pretty extensive, but still does not really do justice to the book, which is ostensibly about the interaction of landscape and music If you are thinking ah, folk music think again Traditional folk music is in there, but there is so much , from frankly unbelievable but factual stuff on early fascists and their movements Kibbo Kift anyone to Free Festivals and Raves So much stuff in the book coincided with my own interests over the years it felt uncanny at times, from Cecil Sharp, the Kinder Scout Trespass to the Battle of The Beanfield, and musically from John Fahey, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Nick Drake to Eno and the wonderful Sinking of the Titanic byGavin Bryars.Brilliant

  7. Kevan Manwaring says:

    This recently published celebration of music of the British landscape is a perfect companion for perambulations in the countryside, as I found, taking it with me in e book format on a long distance hike recently in the north of Britain Ostensibly inspired by King s penchant for going for a rural stroll with an evocative personal soundtrack piped to his ear pods, this jackdaw s nest of a book does read at times like someone s music collection on shuffle, flipping from Vaughan Williams to the This recently published celebration of music of the British landscape is a perfect companion for perambulations in the countryside, as I found, taking it with me in e book format on a long distance hike recently in the north of Britain Ostensibly inspired by King s penchant for going for a rural stroll with an evocative personal soundtrack piped to his ear pods, this jackdaw s nest of a book does read at times like someone s music collection on shuffle, flipping from Vaughan Williams to the Aphex Twins It does offer a broad and effective introduction to the subject, discussing diverse iterations of the nation s musical landscape from the canonical to the counter cultural Not surprisingly, it discusses Vaughan William s perennial classic in some depth, but provides a wider context both of the musical traditions that informed it, and the socio historical context It does not shirk away from the disturbing nationalist strain in the direction such evocations of place and paeans of national character took in the Twentieth Century, and the chapters on Britain s own Fascist movements Sun Awareness The Wide World s Drift , such as the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift with its un healthy obsession on youth, vigorous physical exercise, discipline, and dodgy dogma is particularly resonant in the light of the current resurgence of such loathsome ideology However it strikes a bum note in equating the crypto Fascist campfire songs with the sentiment of 60s and 70s English folk to mention Fairport Convention or Nick Drake in the same paragraph as these English Wandervogel is creating a laboured moral equivalence Another weakness of the text is in the actual quality of the prose, which is sometimes plodding Considering the main subject of the book it feels surprisingly cloth eared in its use of language, not that one expects a non fiction book to be overtly lyrical, but when the material is predominantly about the affect of music in the landscape, aeuphonic register would at times not have gone amiss At worst, this results in tedious sections about the Common Agricultural Policy and the like, which King insists on going into in great detail at best, this reportage style results in some powerfully restrained and lucid accounts of the crushing of the Peace Convoy in the mid 80s and the rise of the Rave scene, culminating in Castlemorton in the early 90s The chapter on the Greenham Common Peace Camp stands out as an exceptional piece of writing, charting an important piece of social history in a sensitive way The book is undoubtedly a very subjective representation of the music of the British landscape , but none the worse for that King is making no claims here about being authoritative or comprehensive in his survey it is a cross section of his personal tastes and interests In as much as it may lack the scope or prose of analogous works like The Ballad of Britain by Will Hodgkinson, or Electric Eden by Rob Young, The Lark Ascending is an affectionate and singular addition to this subgenre of musical genius loci Well worth a stroll with, and it will certainly attune you to the musical dimensions of the landscape, and the landscapes of music.The Lark Ascending the music of the British landscape is published by Faber and Faber.Kevan Manwaring 2019

  8. Luke Stacks says:

    It s hard not to compare this work to Rob Young s Electric Eden and find it wanting, even though it is a complementary work and even identifies a few landmarks that Young probably should have explored in his longer, deeper, and altogethermagical book King s work surveys the past century or so of British art usually music that evokes or harnesses the landscape Alongside this art, King provides a cliff notes version of British policy and social action surrounding that landscape, with a f It s hard not to compare this work to Rob Young s Electric Eden and find it wanting, even though it is a complementary work and even identifies a few landmarks that Young probably should have explored in his longer, deeper, and altogethermagical book King s work surveys the past century or so of British art usually music that evokes or harnesses the landscape Alongside this art, King provides a cliff notes version of British policy and social action surrounding that landscape, with a focus on trespassing He lacks a large scale argumentthan once, I imagined him writing and striking out, In sum, Britain is a land of contrasts As an American, I don t have a good sense of whether King is making good connections or just rehashing commonplace knowledge King could change up his styleoften His historical details could use some showmanship, a murmuring narration that could stress some syllables and tease readers.The collection of artists is surprising besides Ralph Vaughan Williams, the book also covers Paul Nash, Dylan Thomas, John Cameron, John Seymour, Gavin Bryars, and Ultramarine Stalwarts such as Kate Bush and the Incredible String Band make appearances but are noprominent than Traffic or Kevin Ayers A musician like Bryars barely appears in popular press, so it s a treat to read a dozen pages about him he gets about a page in Paul Griffiths Modern Music and After, but that isof a reference work King gets a lot out of his interview subjects, to the point where they can take over whole chapters This contributes to the unbalanced feeling I get while reading, wondering if some subjects, some topics, have pride of place due to superior access At the same time, I sense that he s deliberately avoiding some musicians for variety s sake who would surely invigorate his narrative For example, it boggles the mind that King doesn t have anything to say about Richard Thompson s song Roll Over Vaughn Williams, even though that musician and that song are featured in many classic music books, especially its memorable cameo in England s Dreaming I wish King went long on his artists work , rather than primly documenting their efforts, but he made me curious about the ones I didn t know, which is the primary thing I want from a music book King does a good job placing us with him at intimate moments where we re experiencing music with him, crying to a Stan Tracey performance, or humming Final Day while walking through the Greenham Common Peace Garden

  9. Martin says:

    This resonates with me I spent a good portion of my young adult years at various gatherings, music festivals and just plain wandering around in the countryside With the advent of the Sony Walkman I had a soundtrack for these wanderings which never detracted from the actual natural sounds of wherever i happened to be The authors s contention that wherever groups of people gather in outdoor locations away from the urban that music is inevitable is true The mixture of humans and hills and music This resonates with me I spent a good portion of my young adult years at various gatherings, music festivals and just plain wandering around in the countryside With the advent of the Sony Walkman I had a soundtrack for these wanderings which never detracted from the actual natural sounds of wherever i happened to be The authors s contention that wherever groups of people gather in outdoor locations away from the urban that music is inevitable is true The mixture of humans and hills and music has existed since time began.This is a good survey of land use and land miss appropriation and land being sung about Our history is a long song The book doesn t shirk from pointing fingers at various politicians down through the ages and as such acts a very good socio political document Incidentally, The Lark Ascending is still one of my all time favourite pieces of music and the author does Vaughn Williams and this piece really well It s good to read something about music that isn t prejudicial in any way Oftentimes, we here of an author s love of music and then we get a rant concerning stuff that is considered unworthy Not here.There are, however, some glaring omissions The author does mention Glastonbury festival, but in passing I was at the 1979 Fayre which might just as well have been a free festival This was my first experience of being in a magical place with some incredible music and a head full of mushrooms There was definitely magic in the air and the sun shone down Steve Hillage, Hawkwind and Gong among others ensured that the place resonated Also, he completely misses out on early Green Gatherings in Somerset from the early 80 s The convoy were there and as place for experimentation and information these festivals were so special Not sure why these quintessential bits of English musical madcapery were not included in the book

  10. Russell Barton says:

    Overall an entertaining and informative read There are a few instances where it feels like unconnected areas are put together, but this is probably because the author knew lots of interesting things and he wanted to fit them all in The Kate Bush section in particular seems to appear from nowhere.

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