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« What Voices Can Be Heard in British Music Hall During the Great War ? »

Abstract : Popular music of many kinds has frequently been claimed as expressing a particular voice. For Cecil Sharp and many others, folk music was or is the voice of the people; rap or punk rock for example have been presented as the voice of marginalized dominated youth. So, a hundred years ago what can we say about British music hall? What voices could be heard ? The title of my paper is deliberately ambiguous. It would normally be taken to mean ‘Whose interests and priorities are expressed in music hall songs of the war period?’ My (tentative) answers to this question will constitute the first part of my paper, during which I will briefly look at elite voices, working class voices, and gendered voices in music hall repertoires and practices. But in the second part of the paper I will look at the question “How was voice used by music hall singers during the Great War?” with the help of a small number of extracts from songs, since time is limited. Finally I will try to sketch out some links between the two sets of conclusions. All of this in the context of my more general contention that popular songs are not an illustration of real history which happens elsewhere in politicians’ offices or muddy trenches, but are part of a mass activity which itself belongs to history.
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Contributor : John Mullen <>
Submitted on : Thursday, April 30, 2020 - 11:00:50 AM
Last modification on : Friday, May 1, 2020 - 1:42:43 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-02559144, version 1

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John Mullen. « What Voices Can Be Heard in British Music Hall During the Great War ? ». « Alternate Spaces of the Great War », University of Plymouth, Sep 2014, Oxford, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02559144⟩

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