London in Song

“London in Song” examines music to understand the history of popular entertainment in the metropolis. From the street ballads of Tyburn Fair celebrations that accompanied convicted felons on the way to the gallows, through the Pleasure Gardens at Vauxhall and Ranelagh, to song-and-supper clubs and early music hall entertainments, this lecture explores the history of London by examining the popular music that it inspired.
Jul 13, 2024


  1. A song is no good if no one is singing it. So songs have developed across time, these different tools to make sure they get sung. — Ian Newman
  2. What can song tell us about a place? What can we learn about a place by listening to the music that has come out of it? And how can song expose aspects of history that otherwise we might overlook? — Ian Newman
  3. The songs being examined in this series are very different sorts of songs in the hopes that we can explore unique backgrounds, areas, and histories. — Ian Newman
  4. In its natural habitat, a song trends towards variation. — Oskar Cox Jensen
  5. It helps to emphasize just how fluid a culture this is, in social space and geographic space. — Oskar Cox Jensen
  6. A lot of these songs can still be applicable to our lives today, even going so far to be the origin of common phrases we still use. — Oskar Cox Jensen
  7. The forms of experience that you can have when you open your mind out beyond what he thought of as the five senses. — Ian Newman
  8. There is an infinity to music that words just can’t quite capture. — Ian Newman
  9. Mainstream popular song is trying to make itself seem respectable, not necessarily consciously in the song itself, but as part of the general historical trend of where popular mainstream music is going. — Ian Newman
  10. The nightingale historically represented spring, nighttime and mourning in literature and song, but became a cliched image that was only used in an ironic fashion by the time Michael Arlen wrote his short story. — Ian Newman

Interested in learning more?

This series is hosted by ThinkND, the University of Notre Dame’s online learning community that connects you with videos, podcasts, articles, courses, and other resources to inspire minds and spark conversations on everything from faith and politics to science, technology, and your career.

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Featured Speakers

Ian Newman, Professor in the English Department and Fellow of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, University of Notre Dame

Rev. Jim Lies C.S.C., Senior Director for Academic Initiatives and Partnerships for the Notre Dame London Global Gateway, University of Notre Dame

Learn About The Tyburn Fair

Jack Hall has its origins in the Tyburn Fair celebrations that occurred in London on the days when convicted felons were paraded around the streets before their public hangings.

Listen to the Broadside Ballads

As well as being performed regularly on the stage, Dibdin’s song had a simultaneous existence in print, particularly as a broadside ballad.

Here’s a link to the Hesburgh Library broadside ballad of the Jolly Young Waterman.

Watch: The Royal Wedding “Jerusalem,” as sung at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011.

“What can song tell us about a place? What can we learn about a place by listening to the music that has come out of it? And how can song expose aspects of history that otherwise we might overlook?”

– Ian Newman

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