The harmonic idiom, too, is purely English (well, English-Scandinavian), even in the “French-textured” sections. No continental conductus sports strings of parallel or nearly parallel triads such as Flos regalis blazons forth from the very start. To this extent at least, the English idiom was indeed insular. And to an extent that continental composers may not have felt any need to match, the English seemed to flaunt their insular idiom within the “universal” (i.e., “catholic”) ecclesiastical genres they had adopted.
This assertion of a local style within a universal genre may suggest the beginnings of something comparable to what we now call nationalism—a concept that, according to some historians, can be identified in England earlier than in other European nations. Those historians identify that emergence, it so happens, precisely around the 1270s and 1280s, the period of the pes motets and rondellus-style conductus settings so slenderly preserved in the Worcester fragments.
At this early date nationalism—or better, national consciousness—is identified with the crown, not with ethnicity, and is associated with propaganda aimed at conscripting a national army under the king’s command. So far it may be viewed as merely a weaker, more abstract form of the personal loyalty one pledged to one’s lord under feudalism. Nor is it easy to distinguish nationalism from imperialism: England’s sense of itself as a nation had a lot to do with the efforts of the Anglo-Normans to conquer and rule their Celtic neighbors to the west and north. But an island country inevitably has a higher consciousness of its boundaries than a continental one, and this can promote a greater sense of civic “commonweal.” As always, though, we should think twice before calling a tendency “progressive” simply because it “looks like us.” There are reasons, after all, why the word “insular,” denoting “island,” tends also to connote the parochial, the provincial, and the narrow-minded. These too are often ingredients of nationalism.
- Citation (MLA):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 11 Island and Mainland." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011006.xml>.
- Citation (APA):
- Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 11 Island and Mainland. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 29 Mar. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011006.xml
- Citation (Chicago):
- Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 11 Island and Mainland." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 29 Mar. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011006.xml