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« Why Singalong? The meanings and uses of the singalong chorus in First World War music hall. »,

Abstract : PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES: PERFORMANCE CULTURES IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR Wednesday 27th – Friday 29th April 2016, University of Kent Proposal John Mullen, Professor in British studies, Université de Rouen, France Research centre: ERIAC, Why Singalong? The meanings and uses of the singalong chorus in First World war music hall. The experience of group singing of a refrain was so central to the music hall experience that the songs were often referred to by non music-hall people simply as “chorus songs”. However, the exact contours of this kind of performance have been little studied, and such study is hindered by the fact that all recordings of the time are studio recordings, where audience singalong is not heard. In addition, textual analysis of a large corpus of music hall songs has been almost completely neglected. My contribution, following on from my recently published full-length study on music hall song, aims at exploring the reasons for the sing-along chorus, the different ways that the chorus could be used, and some of its ambiguities. It will be based on a corpus of a few dozen hit songs from the war years. It will show that the choice to place certain sentiments in the refrain rather than in the verses is not neutral, that the centrality of live music in a pre-radio context has an enormous influence, and that the musical structure of the chorus can sometimes make more complex the sentiments being sung. “Patriotic” refrains, “war-weary” refrains and “escapist” refrains will all be examined, in addition to “anxious” refrains which comment on the enormous social changes going on at the time. John Mullen is a professor in British history at the University of Rouen in France. He has published widely on the history of British popular music. Articles include a reflection on ‘ethnic’ music festivals and immigrant identity (1960–2000), and a piece on racial stereotyping in music-hall songs from 1880 to 1920. His website is www.johncmullen.net.
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John Mullen. « Why Singalong? The meanings and uses of the singalong chorus in First World War music hall. »,. Pack Up Your Troubles ! Performance Cultures in the First World War, Apr 2016, Canterbury, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02464514⟩

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