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World War I’s Effect On Art And Culture During The Early 1900s

2526 words - 10 pages

World War I, starting in Europe July 28, 1914.This war that lasted only 4 years, had major effects all over the world. Although the United states did not get involved with the war until 1917, the war had many effects on American culture during the early 1900s. This major influence mainly started with music, promoting American men to join the army and for women to help in war effort. Surprisingly World War 1 not just influenced economy, music, industrial aspects of America, but other American art forms and culture as well. Specifically, WWI influenced music such as the lyrics describing war events and also to promote the war (as mentioned), gender roles as women were becoming more independent, and fashion becoming less “conservative” for women during the early 1900s.
World War I had an overall major effect on music. According to Historian Jennifer Wingate (H. Layson, P. Scanlan, World War I in U.S Popular Culture) “70 percent of all copyrighted songs in 1918 were war songs”. Not all songs in following years of 1918 were about war. Influence of wartime music did however, affect the sound of popular music to the public. Music before the world War I period was in, for most part, the classical stage. Classical music was already fading in popularity by the time that WWI started, due to a new, upbeat music style called ragtime that was uprising during the 1890s. By the early 1900s ragtime style music was booming in popularity. The upbeat and syncopated sound that made ragtime, was the style of sound behind the popular songs of the first world war. All of World War Is music was not all upbeat and happy, and describing the honors of war, some music was more depressing and described the gruesome parts as well. The lyrics in these songs portrayed to the public that war was not all patriotic and honorable, that War was dark as well. Since The United States was not the land where the war was fought, I feel that this depressing, sad sounding music wasn't as influential to American Society as it may have been in Europe’s. Music was an enormous influence on the public “Much of the music distributed during World War I greatly influenced social and political attitudes, thereby serving as an effective propaganda tool for private citizens and governments” (K. A. Wells, Music as War Propaganda). Music was a sure way to persuade the public and inform them since music was, according to K. A Wells,
“a prominent feature on the home fronts and the battlefields. Most homes had a piano, and at least one member of each family knew how to play it, providing a common form of entertainment and socialization. Popular music, therefore, saturated the citizenry and reached into all of its corners, forming a great medium for conveying messages. Recognizing this capability, governments often used it as an effective means for inspiring fervor, pride, patriotism, and action in the citizens in order to gain manpower, homeland support, and funds.”
Although “Composers and...

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