Oskar Cox Jensen

Published On


Page Range

pp. 195–218


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

8. ‘The Arethusa’: Slip Songs and the Mainstream Canon

In the realm of cheap print, eighteenth-century musical culture was dominated by the slip song. In this chapter, the song ‘The Arethusa’ acts as a case study of this broader culture and is used to examine issues of authorship, performance, distribution, and consumption. It is argued that, although materially inextricable from the ‘cheap’ world of the street and the ballad printer, the slip as a format allowed songs to move easily between disparate social and geographical spheres. More broadly, the slip is conceived as being at the heart of a burgeoning musical mainstream, fuelled by the creativity of a loose ‘canon’ of middlebrow songwriters, primarily British in origin but in debt to Continental influences, whose compositions came to be ubiquitous across British society by means of the theatres, street printers, and singers – and an inveterate culture of piracy.


Oskar Cox Jensen

NUAcT Fellow (ICMuS) at Newcastle University