Music changes with the times, just like people do.

Music changes with the times, just like people do. Music is also an important part of all cultures, but some genres of music were actually a direct creation of war. War brings violence, turmoil, and stress to many, which is why these people used music to escape. However, music also helped soldiers during the wars. The soldiers use music to cope with the cruelty of war. Music provided entertainment for soldiers, relieved stress, and allowed the families back home to express their joy and grief of the war with the world. Music is an easily obtainable source of entertainment for all types of groups. During WWI however, music was utilized for many types of reasons. Music also “helped bring solidarity to groups, strengthen morale and help diminish fear and quite simply, they helped reduce the boredom, frustration and monotony of military life”(Music of the Great War). Not only did music help with those things, during the start of the war, music was also used as a recruitment tactic (Stempel). Soldiers would use music as an escape from the horrible way of living that built up around them. The government also provided the troops with marching bands, although the soldiers took the musical approach to a different level. When not in trenches, “Soldiers would regularly put on concert parties and almost every division had its own entertainment troop”(Music of the Great War). Soldiers also sang songs while marching, which could have helped with boredom, and help keep the soldiers going at a steady pace. Soldiers were under a great deal of pressure during wartime. So, they often use songs to relive their frustration with the world. The Soldiers often created their own versions of the songs. They lived under close military discipline in much the same predicament in the hellish environment of the trenches. They couldn’t openly challenge their situation, legitimacy, nor freely express their discontent and anger at their fate. Only in writing their own colourful words could they vent their frustration. Many of their revised lyrics were comic or ironic, questioning or casting doubts. It was a form of sanctioned disrespect, which permitted them to endure and even to mock what they could not change”(Music of the Great War).The songs the soldiers revised and adapted to their situation, helped them connect with each other on a deeper level, reduced their fear, and helped keep the soldiers entertained and not bored while waiting for enemy fire. The songs that they sang were across a wide genre of music. They went “from jubilant (“Over There”) to hesitant (“Don’t Send My Darling Boy Away”) to anti-German (“Bing! Bang! Bing ‘Em on the Rhine”)”(Gassmann). The bandsmen that accompanied soldiers were not only for entertainment, but also for carrying stretchers. “Initially, the bandsmen also acted as stretcher carriers,” explains Mr Allison. “But this was a very vulnerable position – they were highly susceptible to gunfire. So from 1916 after the battle of Pozières, High Command decided to take them off these duties and for bandsmen to focus solely on playing for the troops”(May).In the 1900’s, people didn’t have tv’s, and the radio was still a new concept. So, these people went to music halls. Today, music halls aren’t as common as they were during the 1900’s. Instead, the modern person goes to the movies, look at our phones, listen to music, etc. Before these things were widely used, people who stayed home during wartime went to music halls to have fun, drink, and have a good time. A music hall was a combination of the theatre and a pub. People flocked in the hundreds to get away from their problems and just relax. Although, more often than not, the inebriated people would throw objects –like bottles if the waiters hadn’t chained them down– at the acts that were a flop. Many famous songs were performed in music halls, which is how they came to be famous. Songs such as Novello, Ivor’s “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, which portrayed a hopeful meaning. Debussy, Claude’s “Noel des enfants”, was composed as a prayer for the children and orphans of the war. Finally, Powell, Felix and George Henry’s “Pack Up Your Troubles”, which was an upbeat and cheery matching song, most likely intended for soldiers to sing while marching. All types of songs intended for different purposes, became apart of the people back home, which allowed them to share their experiences, hopeful messages, and grief with the world. Singers who were sympathetic to the allied powers found a way to give back to the soldiers. They would leave home, choosing instead to entertain the soldiers fighting for their country. At first, there was a struggle for this to happen. A woman named Lena Ashwell was one of the first singers to want to entertain the soldiers. In the beginning, the generals didn’t agree with her, merely stating that the soldiers could entertain themselves. And entertain themselves they did! “Boredom among the troops led to bawdy concert parties with skit and song routines performed by soldiers in drag with substantial cleavage”(Adie). Upon hearing this, Ms. Ashwell wanted the war offices to have some type of theatre for the soldiers. Again, they declined.  Eventually, they decided that it might be a good idea. On January of 1915, the performers entertained the soldiers at 39 concerts in about two weeks. The performers didn’t get any special treatment though, they went through all of the hardships that the soldiers did. When not performing, the entertainers would sing to the wounded, and keep them company.  Another famous singer on the front lines was Henry Lauder. His only son, ” Captain John Lauder, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed on December 28, 1916, at Poiziers,”(Stempel). He stayed on the front lines even when he received this news. He continued to entertain the soldiers, and still wrote songs that were relatable to the people back home. Music provided entertainment, helped relieve stress, and gave families at home a way to vent. Music had a greater impact on the war than others may think. Music can change the way we process things, feel and even how we perceive the world. Wars help push the world to change and adapt. Which is why many great things came out of wars. Things like jazz, the blues, and even ragtime came to be because of war. World War I may be getting forgotten, but we will always remember the technological advances, alliances, and the music and entertainment that came out of it.

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