While I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be a member of the school’s radio station and host my own weekly program for four years. Even though I’ve graduated, there’s still a part of me that is a DJ at heart. I love arranging playlists for family gatherings and road trips, and my writing life is no different.
Because of this, it seemed only right to introduce a little something I’m calling Soundwave Wednesday on my blog. These weekly posts will feature some of my favorite music from the Regency Era where the majority of my stories are set, songs that would find themselves on a project’s soundtrack, tracks that give me the little jolt of motivation I need for another writing session, and more.
Music can be a defining mark of its day. We have the 1970s as the Disco Era. The 1980s the neon and big hair that have become a popular spirit week theme at high schools in recent years. Boy Bands like the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and 98 Degrees dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, with another wave with the likes of One Direction and Big Time Rush a few years after. Through all of it, whether through recorded cassettes, burning CDs, or sending a link via Spotify, sharing music is a huge part of who we are as a culture.
The 1800s were hardly different. While there may not have necessarily been musicians with the same exposure as The Beatles or BTS, sharing music still played a great role in day to day life. Many people knew how to play instruments and sing, with small recitals being a common source of entertainment at home, as Marianne Dashwood and Mary Bennet demonstrate in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, respectively, both works of Jane Austen (who was said to be quite the pianist herself).
Additionally, there was a similar care in sharing music in the nineteenth century. Today, we spend a great deal of care when we curate playlists for our loved ones. It may be easier to accomplish with digital means than with a mixtape, but we strive to ensure each song added into the mix fits.
Now imagine having to copy the music by hand! In the Regency Era, it was common for people to reproduce sheet music note for note by hand if they liked a piece. As someone who lacks patience at times, the painstaking nature of the act would put me over the edge. Granted, I live in an era where I can have my favorite songs playing at the tap of a screen and download or print out sheet music online, so I’m sure I would have had a stronger dedication to copying the piece without the perk of instant gratification.
Soundwave Wednesday thankfully spares you the trouble of copying down music, too!
As a historical fiction author, I’m always looking for ways to step into the lives of my characters and get a sense of their world. One of my favorite ways of doing that is through the music of their time.
This week’s post features a piece from a CD I purchased while visiting London, England this past spring as part of the Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Britain travel course with my college. Jane Austen Entertains is a collection of music popular in her time and was recorded in the drawing room of her Chawton home. Given the two centuries between us, this is among the best ways to get close to stepping into the Regency Era.
Among my favorite songs on the album is Katharine Ogie.
I love the melody of this one and hope to eventually learn it on piano, myself, though I doubt I will ever be able to boast the impressive soprano of vocalist Sara Stowe to accompany it (such is the life of an alto).
Join me next week for another Soundwave Wednesday.