Carrie Allen Tipton on “Music and Social Change on Downton Abbey”

In case you missed it, this week The Avid Listener featured a second essay by Carrie Allen Tipton. Her topic for this week is how music represents social class in the popular BBC drama Downton Abbey, now in its last season. I’ll admit that when we first started talking with Carrie about this essay, I hadn’t watched a single episode of Downton Abbey. But this essay piqued my interest, and now I’m on season 4. I’ll catch up with the world eventually! If you’re a fan of DA, you’ll find lots of familiar moments here. If you haven’t watched the show, you might want to after reading this.

Here’s a teaser: “The first episode of the hyper-popular BBC series Downton Abbey used the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as shorthand for the aristocratic Crawley family’s sudden and jarring transition, not only into a new epoch of its own dynasty, but from the waning and comfortable Edwardian era into a strange and destabilizing phase of world history. Now, as the show enters its sixth and final season (extending into the late 1920s), Downton’s inhabitants muddle clumsily through changing gender roles, shifting economic landscapes, volatile global politics, and seismic shifts in England’s essentially medieval class system, which is crumbling at last. In compressing such an expansive story into so few seasons, the show relies heavily on music to highlight the central tension between inevitable social change and the corresponding reluctance of the British aristocracy to adjust.”

Read the entire essay here. Stay tuned for our February digest!

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