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Music of War
Resources, Patriotism, Propoganda and Protest

First Nation Songs, Civil War, WW1, WW2, Military War music Patriotic, Protest and Union Songs

"U can't march off 2 war in 3 / 4" ~ Karen Ellis

Question: There is a song that is played at all the state arrival ceremonies the White House holds for foreign leaders but the monarch of Britain.

What is it?

The special song is "Yankee Doodle"

It is a tradition for the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, a military band dressed in 18th-century colonial uniforms, to perform it while marching in front of the visiting foreign leaders.

However, because soldiers from the Thirteen Colonies used to sing it when they fought against the British armies for independence, the song will be spared in ceremonies for British kings and queens.

Black Fife and Drum Music originally from Senagal ~ Otha Turner's Family Picnic

Songs of War [America]

Black Fife & Drum
The Turner property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. That's where, for the last 50 years, an annual event called the Turner Family picnic has taken place near the end of the summer. Now the Turner Family Picnic is called a picnic. And they've got plenty of goat barbecue for the goat barbecue lovers of the world. But what really sets the event apart is a singular style of music that one can hear there --- and only there -- called "Black Fife & Drum." It's a style of music derived from traditional West African music that features a fife player (basically playing a handmade flute carved out of bamboo) plus two or more drummers WAILING away on their drums in a fairly improvisational manner. The fact that the picnic was begun by Sharde Thomas's legendary grandfather, Otha Turner, makes it better yet. And the fact that she may be the last purveyer of this iconic musical style; descended from West African music and on the verge of dying out completely, makes it both exciting and a tad bittersweet. But for you, dear viewer, it can be a glimpse into something rare and extraordinary.

Gravel Springs FifeDrum - Otha Turner





1930's clip from the Library of Congress, veterans stepped up to the mic, taking turns with their version of the "Rebel Yell."

It depends what you mean by the "real" words. The lyrics that George Washington probably heard sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" are NOT the words now known around the world. The earliest known appearance of the common words relating to "pony, feather, and macaroni" is in James Orchard Halliwell's The Nursery Rhymes of England (London, 1842), p. 82. No earlier reference to these lyrics has been found. But Washington probably did know the chorus about minding the music and the step. It comes from the Boston area in 1775 and was set to the tune we all know. The song must have struck home because by 1830, over one hundred more topical lyrics were printed, sung to the same tune and using the same basic chorus. In the twentieth century, this chorus was added to the "macaroni" verse from 1842, making up the song we know today. Transcribed from a broadside in the Rosenbach Collection in Philadelphia, illustrated in Vera Brodsky Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents: Harmonies and Discords of the First Hundred Years (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1975), p. 61.

Star Spangled Banner Lesson Plan
Musical Vocabulary Links:  Learning by Association and Repetition Teach The Star Spangled Banner - The method can be used by parents, by school volunteers working with individuals or groups, and by teachers in classrooms. Two basic memory techniques are association (linking new learning to previous knowledge) and repetition. This method can be adapted for any age and any language.

"In 1940 Igor Stravinsky re-orchestrated 'The Star Spangled Banner' for the Boston Symphony. Someone alerted the Boston police, who arrived at Symphony Hall, confiscated the instrumental parts to the Stravinsky orchestration and arrested Stravinsky for 'tampering with public property.'"

The Battle Hymn- of the Republic
Americas song of itself The USA's "second national anthem" "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861 is a warrior's cry and a call to arms.It was a fitting finale to the life of a great American because the story of the "Battle Hymn" is the story of the United States. The song, now approaching its 150th anniversary, is a hallowed treasure and a second national anthem. The "Battle Hymn" has inspired suffragists and labor organizers, civil rights leaders and novelists—like John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. The editor of the Atlantic Monthly, James T. Fields, paid Howe five dollars to publish the poem, and gave it a title: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." You can listen here to a 1908 recording of the song from "The Edison Phonograph Monthly," featuring "Miss Stevenson, Mr. Stanley and Mixed Quartette." But most of all, the "Battle Hymn" is a warrior's cry and a call to arms. Its vivid portrait of sacred violence captures how Americans fight wars, from the minié balls of the Civil War to the shock and awe of Iraq.

World War One Gold Star Mothers Song - 1926
Gold Star Mothers Day On June 23, 1936 the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 (49 Stat.1895), further recognized the sacrifice of these Gold Star Mothers when it set aside the last Sunday in September of each year as Gold Star Mothers Day, and authorized the President to issue a proclamation in observance of that day.

 How many national anthems are plagiarised?
Several of the world's national anthems are shockingly similar to other compositions. Is this because composers pilfer other people's tunes - or does it tell us more about the difficulties of writing an original melody

The scrolls depicted ceremonial songs "concerning the most fundamental laws and needs of the [Ojibwe] people." A group of elders has confirmed that they are long-lost records of the Bois Forte lodge of the Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, a selective Ojibwe religious order that preserved its rites on birch bark and was driven underground for most of the 20th century, when Indian religions were outlawed by the U.S. government. Experts who have studied similar scrolls say they most often contain "mnemonic," or memory-aiding symbols, to recall songs among a people with no written language. Similar scrolls were destroyed by missionaries and others during the century that the Midewiwin was outlawed.

Irving Berlin wrote "God Bless America" Sung by Kate Smith.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) wrote "God Bless America
"Initially, he wrote it in 1918 for his WWI revue "Yip, Yip, Yaphank." It was cut from that show, but Berlin reviewed it with slightly revised words in 1938. It was introduced during a nation-wide radio broadcast by Kate Smith on Armistice Day, 1938. Musically, I would agrue that it really is a great song, and far less bellicose than the Star Spangled Banner. To his credit, Berlin donated all royalties from it to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

God Bless America.
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies ,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home.
God Bless America.
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies ,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home.
God bless America
My home sweet home.

Yankee Doodle Dandy
by George M. Cohan


I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Yankee Doodle, do or die
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam
Born on the Fourth of July

I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart
She's my Yankee Doodle joy
Yankee Doodle came to London
Just to ride the ponies
I am the Yankee Doodle Boy


Mel Brooks does Frank doing AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL




Historical Civil War and Patriotic Music

Civil War Music Library of Congress

The Origin of the song "Dixie"


Historical background and foreground resources:

Unruliness, naming, and shaming are critical tools for the disenfranchised, this is also true when they are used towards people in power. When a multi-million dollar organization uses these methods on a small organization that is relatively powerless in the situation, they are not “tools” of the disenfranchised–they are instances of bullying, intimidation, and entitlement.
Protect Students @strikedebt
There is a HUGE number of people who, loaded with student debt, are barely making subsistence wages by adjuncting and need to get on their feet.

I. W. W. song tradition



Matthew Billy, host of the podcast "Between the Liner Notes" is hoping to do just that, with a petition to exonerate Joe Hill, over 100 years after his execution by the state of Utah. Hill arrived to the United States in 1902 as an indigent, unknown Swedish immigrant. By the time of Hill's death in 1915 — a penalty for a murder that historians, including Billy, say that he did not commit — Hill had become the leader of the labor union Industrial Workers of the World, commonly known as the "Wobblies." The Wobblies were known for their use of song as a form of protest, the lyrics of which — penned by Hill — they circulated through the "Little Red Songbook." Though before recording technology existed, Hill's legacy lived on through his songs made famous through the likes of Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear Matthew Billy discuss the Joe Hill saga, and click here for the full "Between the Liner Notes" episode on the labor activist.


The origin of the American brass band tradition

The upper-class during the colonial era promoted ensembles who played serenades, feldparthien and divertimenti, such as those composed by Mozart and Haydn. Natural horns and bassoons provided harmonic support for the melodic line, played by clarinets and oboes. Thomas Jefferson suggested this instrumentation for the U.S. Marine Band, and asked fourteen Italian-American musicians to form the nucleus of that influential group, and thus these ensembles were the origin of the American brass band tradition, which flourished in the 19th century, having moved from upper-class entertainment to that of the common folk.


Music Has A National Character

Music has a national character Music: The international language - Summary
There seems to be something distinctly English about Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance march, which concert-goers accompany with a lusty rendition of the anthem Land of Hope and Glory. Music has a national character, says AniruddhPatel of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California. Put simply, music echoes speech.
Patel and his colleagues came to this conclusion after comparing the rhythms and pitch variations of English and French music and speech, focusing on the classical music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a time when many composers were actively seeking to express their own nationality, so national musical characteristics might be expected to be particularly prevalent. Patel and his colleague Joseph Danielestarted their analysis by looking at rhythm. The rhythms of everyday speech are notoriously hard to codify, but there is a measure called the normalised pairwise variability index (nPVI), devised by linguists Esther Grabe of the University of Oxford and her colleagues Low Ee Ling and Francis Nolan. This index measures the variation in length between successive vowels in a spoken phrase. Grabe and others have shown that the average nPVI of British English is significantly higher than that of French. That is, adjacent vowels in English tend to have rather different durations - long and then short, say - whereas in French the durations are more similar.
So can the same pattern be seen in musical rhythm? When Patel and Daniele examined the patterning of note duration in their music samples, they saw no clear national bias in nPVI among individual composers, but when they averaged the values for all composers from each country, they found a significant difference. As with speech, the nPVI of the English music was higher than that of the French selection.
Pitch proved more difficult to analyse. Linguist Piet Mertens of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium noted that the pitch perceived by listeners for a given syllable is largely defined by the average pitch of the syllable's vowel. So a spoken sentence can be reduced to a series of steps between these pitches.
Applying this to French and English, Patel's team found that although the average change in pitch between two syllables is the same in each language, there is more variation in English the variation from the average interval tended to be greater for English composers.
Why should music share these acoustic similarities with speech? Patel thinks that the latter probably shapes the former. Composers, he suggests, absorb the speech patterns - the contours of pitch and rhythm - that they have heard since childhood, and unconsciously build these into their music.  Patel's latest work shows that the contingencies of history, as well as the exigencies of nationality, can play a part.
His methods are now being used to study the rhythms in speech and music of other cultures, such as Welsh and Japanese. "One of our group's interests is in Thai music," says Patel, "since Thai has a high linguistic nPVI, and Thai culture has a well-developed classical instrumental musical tradition." What's more, Thai is a tonal language and Patel is keen to discover if that is reflected in the country's music. He also hopes to study the music from cultures in which the music is not written down, such as those in many African countries, to find out whether the link with language patterns still emerges.

Soviet Army - Dance of the Soldiers



Patriotic Medley Featuring the Military Bands


Barbra Streisand Sings Hatikvah Isreal's National Anthem and Speaks to Golda Meir



Listen to First Lady of Philadelphia Soul

Carla L. Benson Sings Hatikvah Isreal's National Anthem

Carla L. Benson


Hawaiian War Chant

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learn about Hawaiian Pidgin Creoles

Interdisciplinary connections between Language, Music, Evolution, Reading




The narco-corridos 'drug ballads' popular in California

"Songs that empower people fantasy" video - While cartels make parts of Mexico dangerous, their cultural impact is felt over the border in southern California Narco-corridos, or "drug ballads" narrative songs where singers tell of imagined or real-life drug war stories. While the songs brag about murder or other violent exploits, some who study narco-corridos say the music not unlike the gangster rap of the 1990s - reflecting violence that already exists.

Mexican Folk Music about Terrorism
Narco-Corrido Music

NPR Morning Edition Monday, November 19, 2001 NPR's Renee Montagne talks with Elijah Wald. He's a musician who's spent years researching Mexican "narco-corrido" music -- ballads made from combining waltzes with border music that celebrate the lifestyle of borderland drug traffickers. (8:59)
Morning Edition Tuesday, November 20, 2001 Terror Corridos
NPR's Mandalit Del Barco reports on the latest innovation in the history of corridos, Mexican ballads with tragic lyrics and polka-and-waltz-like beats. Corrido composers are struggling with how to write songs about the acts of terrorism that struck the United States on Sept. 11. (8:17)



This project is part one of a trilogy that explores through cultural expression the historical and cultural connections between Santiago de Cuba, New Orleans, and Haiti. The popular traditions in this project include: “Las Congas” from Santiago de Cuba, the “Second Line” from New Orleans, and the “Rara” from Haiti. Through a video documentary and photographic essay, we analyze power dynamics during popular festivals in the Caribbean region, exploring issues of resistance in the context of Afro Diasporic communities. In doing so, we draw connections between the New Orleans, Cuba, and Haiti.

We are reflections of the sound as is the sound a living mirror of the energy that is us. Rhythms are spirits and spirits have their own rhythm waves like fingerprints like waves of water and so these days during the annual Invasion Parade when the Conga moves down the street with the big drums slipping from rhythm to big rhythm they’re actually invoking the different faces of the gods.






Jimmy Cliff
Kirschner Concerts Present Jimmy Cliff
The Harder They Come



Protest Music


King Crimson

This painting of the 21st Century Schizoid Man appears on the cover of the 1969 record album "Court of the Crimson King" by the British progressive rock group King Crimson. The band's leader, Robert Fripp, later linked the painting with the LP's cacophonous jazz-metal opener, 21st Century Schizoid Man – a dystopian montage of horrific images in which lyricist Pete Sinfield conflated the first world war with that of Vietnam. The song was dedicated to the former US vice president Spiro Agnew, bane of anti-war protestors in the first Nixon administration. King Crimson's debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, which celebrates its 40th anniversary on 10 October 2009. Painted by a young artist and computer programmer named Barry Godber, the pink and blue gatefold sleeve depicted the face of a humanoid creature, flinching from some terrible torture.

"Cat's foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia's poison door
Twenty first century schiziod man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians' funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schiziod man.

Death seed blind man's greed
Poets' starving children bleed
Nothing he's got he really needs

Peter Sinfield


Labor Union Songs

1935-2008: Bruce 'Utah' Phillips
Folksinger, Storyteller, Railroad Tramp Utah Phillips Dead at 73" Nevada City, California

Utah Phillips - Bruce "Utah" Phillips (b. May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio) is a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and self-described "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". 


Utah Phillips - ANARCHY a story that give the advice that you must make your own decisions and think for yourself.


He describes the struggles of labor unions and the power of direct action. He often promotes the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words. Anyone know and that name Ammon Hennacy? Utah wrote a song about him.

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Union Songs
In 1979 Joe Glazer founded the Great Labor Arts Exchange at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, now the National Labor College. In 1984 he helped found the Labor Heritage Foundation, a non-profit arts and culture organization which assists the labor movement by promoting artistic expression and labor history. In 1973 Joe wrote "Songs of Work and Protest" with Edith Fowke , one of the most significant labor history songbooks ever written.

Today Joe Glazer, Labor's Troubadour, died.
September 19, 2006.

"I dreamed that I had died
And gone to my reward
A job in heaven's textile plant
On a golden boulevard.
The mill was made of marble
The machines were made of gold
And nobody every got tired
And nobody every grew old."

From: The Mill was Made of Marble
Words and Music by Joe Glazer, 1918-2006
AFL-CIO Songbook, rev. 1974
Tenth Printing

Union Maid

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"This machine kills fascists" These are the words Woody Guthrie had emblazoned on his guitar.

Woody Guthrie Wrote Angry Songs About Fred Trump who was Donald Trump’s Father
For two years, folk icon Woody Guthrie was a tenant in one of the Brooklyn apartment buildings managed by Fred Trump, father of current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Guthrie wrote:
I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodspot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at this
Eighteen hundred family project"

The Department of Justice sued the Trump real estate business in the 1970s for violating the Fair Housing Act. Guthrie, whose songs advocated for American equality and condemned racism, lamented the lack of diversity among the residents of Trump’s Beach Haven apartments.

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON Donald Trump was a nightmare landlord in the 1980s Trump fired the building manager and replaced him with Citadel Management. In his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump himself said he chose a company that "specialized in relocating tenants." Trump had cut off their hot water and heat during New York's freezing winters and stopped all building repairs. One claimed he allowed "a rodent infestation of the premises." Another said he imposed burdensome new rules in an attempt to force them out.


1970 Joni Mitchell



Joan Baez - We Shall Overcome





Horst-Wessel-Lied The anthem of the Nazi Party from 1930 to 1945

Marx Brothers Duck Soup War Song


Woody Guthrie
during World War Two wrote "Round and Round Hitler's Grave"
"Acres of Clams"and also wrote "This Land." (This Land Is Your Land) as a poem,and the arrangement utilizes the melody of A. P. Carter's "Little Darling Pal of Mine." There's not an iota of difference. But Guthrie had grace when questioned. Of Carter he said, "He was a great song stealer, but I was greater than he, because I stole some of his." This Land Was Made For You And Me

Vietnam Veterans Oral History and Folklore Project
For bibiography, sources for recordings, articles


Literature -- Books/Song Collections

Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein talks about Woody's thoughts about War, Peace and protest before and after World War Two


Atomic Platters: Cold War Music [sadly you need Real Player]
Along with ushering in a new age of global unrest and high anxiety, the emergence of the atomic bomb had a curious and not totally unpredictable effect on the world of popular (and not-so-popular) music. This site brings together these various subgenres of "atomic" music in a way that's rather fun, intriguing, and at times, a bit scary. Visitors can look through such subgenres as "Atomic", "Cold War", "Flying Saucer", and so on. While most of the songs are not available in their full form, visitors can read all of the lyrics and interpretive essays. Of course, visitors can find plenty of audio joy at the "CONELRAD Audio Archives" area. Herein are contained such gems as the positively odd "The Complacent Americans" and the equally lovable novelty album "The Goldwaters Sing Folk Songs to Bug the Liberals"


James McMurtry- We can't make it here


Right Said Fred (really!) appears on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to tell Syrian president Bashar al-Assad what a dick he is. It's going to be especially disappointing to Assad, as they are one of his favorite bands.


War Hero Songs

Jesse Dayton - Daddy Was a Badass




5 most popular funeral songs

  1. My Way – Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
  2. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler/Celine Dion
  3. Time To Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
  4. Angels– Robbie Williams
  5. Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy

Funeral songs to soothe those left behind like the Vera Lynn classic “We’ll meet again”.

5 unusual funeral songs

  1. Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum/Doctor and the Medics
  2. Don’t worry. Be happy – Bobby McFerrin
  3. Dancing Queen - Abba
  4. We are the champions - Queen
  5. Bring me sunshine – Morecambe and Wise
  6. My Sweet Lord - George Harrison
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