War sirens: how the sheet music industry sold World War I
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During World War I the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI) sponsored a national culture of war in posters, speeches, and films. Against this war-soaked cultural backdrop, the sheet music industry echoed the pervasive messages of the CPI, often using images of women to appeal to the American people. Connections between sheet music and CPI poster themes reflect the cultural dominance of war messages, and themes from various CPI-sponsored materials recur as motifs in the era's sheet music. The sheet music covers, lyrics, and musical cues reinforced prototypical roles for women during the war (from angelic nurses to flirtatious tomboy recruits) as established in the poster art, revealing a gendered cultural code. By purchasing sheet music and carrying it into their homes, American citizens literally bought into the war propaganda, heeding the siren call of the female imagery in CPI advertising to invest materially and emotionally in the war effort. Analysis of cover art, titles, lyrics, and musical examples highlights the use of archetypal images of women from poster and advertising traditions, suggesting that the sheet music industry was an unofficial partner of the CPI.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Motherhood and war -- Sister Susie sews at home -- The girls they left behind -- Angels and madonnas -- Red Cross girlies and Salvation lassies -- The American girl vs. the French fling -- Columbia, the Amazon warrior --Joan of Arc -- Conclusion