Born in Exeter, England, where as a boy he was chorister in the Cathedral. He was first a pupil of the Rev. Edward Gibbons, organist and priestvicar of the Cathedral, and he next studied under William Wake, also an organist of the Cathedral. He was diligent in his studies and produced a number of compositions, his first of note being his music "for ye King's sagbutts and cornets," performed during the progress of Charles II. from the Tower through the city to Whitehall, April 22, 1661, the day before his coronation. This brought him the appointment of Composer in Ordinary to the King. He composed several anthems for the Chapel Royal in 1666, and he produced there a Kyrie and Credo which was different than usual in that it had different music to each response. About this time he produced thirteen anthems for three and four voices. Soon after this he became a convert to the Romish faith. He was appointed organist to the Queen. In 1664 he had composed the music, instrumental, vocal and recitative, for Sir Robert Stapylton's tragic-comedy, The Stepmother. Three years later he furnished music for Dryden and Dayenant's alteration of The Tempest. It is supposed that he composed the vocal music for Davenant's alteration of Macbeth in 1672. The next year he composed the music, with the exception of the act tunes, for Shadwell's Psyche and this music, together with his Tempest music, he published in 1675 under the title of The English Opera. In 1672 he had a bitter controversy with Thomas Salmon, who had published An Essay to the Advancement of Musick, by casting away the perplexity of different clefs. Locke did not agree with him, and replied, which led to a number of pamphlets by both of them. Locke finally had
the better of the argument. The old practise has continued in use to this daly, while Salmon's proposed innovation was never accepted. Locke lived on the most intimate terms with Henry Purcell and his family and Purcell composed an ode, solo, and chorus On the Death of his Worthy Friend, Mr. Matthew Locke. Locke died in Savoy. His compositions are numerous, there being besides those already mentioned many instrumental pieces, anthems, hymns, and songs in various collections; a small treatise, entitled, Melothesia, or Certain General Rules for playing upon a Continued-Bass. This is said to be the first book of its kind published in England.