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American Music Project Essay

1750 words - 7 pages

Throughout history, music has been a form of communication, a medium that is understood by the masses. Form the drumbeats of the Swahili and Navajo to the Guitar riffs of Chuck Berry and crooning of Bing Crosby, most of what their music represents is the need to convey a message of some kind. Whether it is a sign of the times, as with the formation of rock and roll or the need to warn other tribes that trouble is coming over the horizon, music and its many manifestations have been used as a form of popular communication. Many events in history are marked with the music from the time. Each big event worth talking about in a history book usually has a song to commemorate its occurrence. Many times music will reflect public opinion as with the patriotic tunes of World War I and the anti-war music of the Vietnam era.It is obvious that opinions on war changed in just a few decades. The two songs from the World War I era give two distinct views. In one instance the patriotism that the government would want the public to have is very prominent in George M. Cohan’s “Over There”. As the song begins we can hear the flutter of the fife and the semblance of a march which at times can have patriotic connotations due in part to John Phillip Souza and his “Stars and Stripes forever”. In “Over There”, just before the words begin, an army bugle call is heard, which carries throughout the song. This particular song seems to be a sales pitch to enlist in the army. Johnny is supposed to go and make his daddy proud by rolling up his sleeves fastening his bayonet flexing his muscles and showing the Hun who is boss for the sake of Europe. During the time of WWI this was a classic attitude to have. This song seems designed to catch the ear of the common man of the time. It has a catchy rhyme scheme, a quick beat, simple words and it tugs at our patriotic heartstrings.At the time of World War I, the United States made an attempt at being neutral. However, in 1917, Great Britain uncovered a plot to have Mexico declare War on the United States and in return, Mexico would have German support in the reclaiming of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The decrypted correspondence was known as the Zimmerman Telegram. A cynical plot had been set in motion to halt American involvement and for Germany to tighten its chokehold (World War I 2007). It appeared that Germany was guilty of a crime of passion rather than necessity in its attempt to control Europe. “Over There” was written with these situations in mind. It seems to be a positive rallying cry for the young men of the United States to, “Show your grit, do your bit”. Considering the turn of events that involved the United States in World War I, the patriotism was justified. If not for these tunes and the brave young men that answered the call to duty, the world may have turned out drastically different.Despite the service that songs like “Over There” provided, there...

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