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Early British popular music

 This article is part of the 
Music of the United Kingdom series.
 English folk
 Irish folk
 Scottish folk
 Welsh folk
 Cornish and Manx folk
 Early popular music
 1950s and 60s
The diverse nations that now make up the United Kingdom were much more distinct from each other prior to modern times. There was little culturally uniting the varying Welsh, Scottish, English and Irish villages and regions until relatively recently. Broadside ballads were the first pan-British popular music tradition, and were quickly followed by popular British operas and musicals, music hall and, following the invention of recording technology, pop music.

Broadside ballads

Main article: Broadside ballad

The earliest forms of music popular across all of the United Kingdom were broadside ballads. These were popular folk songs printed on sheets of varying lengths (broadsides); most were originally lyrics with a note on the sheet that the words were to be sung to some well-known tune. Broadside ballads were popular across Western Europe beginning in the 16th century. They were written by hand before the invention of the printing press, and only grew extremely popular after they could be cheaply reproduced. Broadside ballads were sold by travelling peddlers or by merchants in stalls in a town's marketplace, and were pasted on walls or other locations before being learned; after the words had been committed to memory, the broadside was replaced or pasted by another.

The earliest broadsides come from about 1506, and their popularity grew quickly -- one merchant sold 190 ballads in 1520, a remarkable sum considering the rarity of literacy at the time. After 1556, printers were required to register with the Stationers' Company in London, and had pay four pence to register each balld beginning in 1557 and continuing to 1709.

Broadsides were often folded into pamphlets called chapbooks, which were popular in the 18th century, sold by chapmen. The earliest garland, or a collection of songs and ballads in chapbooks. By the beginning of the 20th century, broadsides were declining in popularity due to the influx of newspapers, and the tradition soon died out.

Music hall

Main article: Music hall

Music hall is a specific form of popular music that developed as a result of the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation of previously rural populations. The new urban communities, cut off from their cultural roots, required new and accessible means of entertainment. Music halls were originally bars which provided entertainment, in the form of music and speciality acts, for their patrons. By the middle years of the 19th century the first purpose-built music halls were being built in London. The halls created a demand for new and catchy popular songs that could no longer be met from the traditional folk repertoire. Professional songwriters were enlisted to fill the gap.

Music hall songs are characterized by a simple beat and a strong melody or tune which can be easily acquired by the audience. Typically a music hall song consists of a series of verses sung by the performer alone, and a repeated chorus which carries the principal melody, and in which the audience is encouraged to join. Leading music hall stars included: Marie Lloyd, Harry Champion, George Formby, Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen. Musical hall composers included Lionel Monckton, Felix Powell, Noel Gay, Fred W. Leigh.

Stage and film musicals continue to be influenced by music hall.