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Chapter 1: What Voices Can Be Heard in British Music Hall Songs of the First World War?

Abstract : Following on from my book, 'The Show Must Go On': Popular Song in Britain during the First World War published in 2015 by Routledge, this chapter will look at two aspects of wartime song, both included in the term 'voices'. Firstly, it will look at the interests and priorities defended in the repertoire: can we speak of 'a voice of the people' or 'a voice of the elite' or both? Similarly, the question of gendered priorities expressed in the song repertoire will be examined. The second part of the chapter will look at the sound material of the World War one singers: what different voices did they use on stage (operatic, stage cockney, feminine, regional, working-class and so on), why did they make these choices and what did they mean? The voice is one of the few musical tools in First World War music hall to remain under the comprehensive control of the artiste (since generally the singers were accompanied by a different house orchestra in a different town each week), and its theatrical usage and technological constraints (no microphone in a two or three thousand seat theatre) can tell us much about the meaning of music hall in people's lives during the war.
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John Mullen. Chapter 1: What Voices Can Be Heard in British Music Hall Songs of the First World War?. Routledge. John Mullen, Popular Song in the First World War – an International Perspective, 2018, 978-1-138-47846-6. ⟨hal-02480094⟩

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