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American Wartime Music Composers - Cohan & Berlin - Term Paper Example

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The paper will investigate their diverse backgrounds and how their songwriting influenced war propaganda and American musicals at the same time…
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American Wartime Music Composers - Cohan & Berlin
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Download file to see previous pages The 20th century was such a juxtaposition of styles, forms, and genres of music that it was difficult to chose two "composers" who had something in common. Perception is one of the most important tools of propaganda. For the first time aural perception was combined with the visual. Audiences became more demanding as the subjective choice of music was more diverse and more complicated . The radio was a significant factor in the mass distribution of different types of music. By World War II, composers of all genre were put in the forefront for the first time in history . Contrary to social believe, composers were highly touched by the effects of the number of deaths of the World War I and the number of deaths by the flue pandemic which closed theaters for almost 3 years. The two World Wars created different levels of propaganda and thus music was used differently. By World War II, audiences expected to be entertained by going to dance halls, jazz bands, musicals, music revues…. As radio was a major form of entertainment in the majority of American households, music stations flourished. By World War II, it was common to go to cinema once a week. The United States War Office had a "Wartime Music Committee". (Sheppard 304) Audiences at home were under the influence that all was going well in both wars and soldiers were played music when they were in the mess hall; saw movies and were fed propaganda that the Americans were winning battles. Music was an important part of the war effort Each soldier was given a book of military songs. Over 9 000 songs were composed from the start of World War 1. Composers and producers were drafted or volunteered to entertain the troops. At the turn of the century, Musical theatre was a juxtaposition of a group of songs with a slight story line. George Cohan (b. 1878 d.1942) was raised in a family of vaudeville performers. (Kenrick) In the early 1900's the US was in a state of economic stability and patriotism. American Musical theater was in its infancy. Vaudeville performances were still common. A group of diverse traveling performers would perform on stage with no continuity in the program. He is quoted as saying his family was making $1 000.00 a week in the late 1800's. (Kenrick)When he came to New York, he began writing and composing his own songs and "sketches". They were the equivalent of musicals but they were simplistic and missed the continuity of full musicals of today. They were a group of songs, perhaps in different keys without any or a few common musical themes. He is considered the father of American Musical Theatre.(Ewan 68) As a proud chauvinist, his song writing was one of the first to be used to promote national cause or "national propaganda". As soon as President Wilson declared war, his most famous song "Over There" became a national hit. (Kenrick) It showed the value of fighting the war. His war songs showed the negative side of staying out of the war. His songs did not take into account the human emotional side of fighting a war. Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was one of many Jewish immigrants who came to the US as a child. He lived in abject poverty. His father was a singer (cantor) in the synagogue so his son would have had vocal religious training. This fact is not to be neglected as a young orthodox Jew he chanted his studies. (Kenrick) Once in the US, his father died within 2 years and as a child I Berlin went to work on the streets to help support his family. Little by little ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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