Category Archives: Music

Rhythm and Reaction

This is just a note to recommend the exhibition Rhythm and Reaction, at Two Temple Place in London. It tells the story of the introduction of jazz music into Britain before and after the Great War. From the banjo-playing of the minstrel shows and productions like In Dahomey (1903), via the groundbreaking Original Dixieland Jazz […]

Rose Allatini’s husband

Cyril Scott in middle age Attempting to find out more about Rose Allatini, author of the extraordinary Despised and Rejected (1918), I’ve been looking at the autobiography of her husband Cyril Scott (1879-1970). He was a composer, and Bone of Contention (1969) is mostly about his music. It is a pleasant amble through his life, […]

Another view of soldiers’ songs

I’m still looking for material about soldier’s songs, and recently came across this article in the excellent Spectator archive. It’s a November 1917 review of F.T. Nettleingham’s collection, Tommy’s Tunes, and reminds us that the subject was not always seen through the socialist-populist filter of ‘Oh What a lovely War’. The Spectator site’s text is […]

Wipe your tears away with sandpaper

I’ve been reading Outside Verdun, the (very readable) new  translation of Arnold Zweig’s 1935 novel Erziehung vor Verdun. I’ll be putting a full review online soon, but meanwhile, here’s a question. Agreeing with the Crown Prince that the day’s activities had been pointless, an adjutant says: We could just as well have stayed at home, […]

Singing on the march

I’ve undertaken to write an article about the  soldiers’ songs of the Great War. I’m finding plenty of interesting references to songs, and to how they lifted morale on the march, or reinforced community spirit in concert parties, or in informal gatherings. I’m tantalised, though, by the memory of an anecdote I read some years […]

Heavy Metal

After several years of research, I thought I was pretty well-informed about popular representations of the Great War, but I’ve just learned (thanks to Peter Grant) about a thriving genre of songs about the War in recent rock music. Peter’s database has nearly six hundred examples, from Britain, Germany, France and elsewhere. As regular readers […]

Books and Music

An American firm, Petrilla Books, has sent me the link to their catalogue of WW1-era books and sheet music. Some rarities at reasonable prices – and some most enjoyable illustrated covers. The list is at: http://www.petrillabooks.com/?page=shop/browse&category_id=317

Gerty, get on with your knitting

Now here’s an aspect of Great War literature I had never thought of before! Julia Hedges blogs about a new CD of WW1 knitting songs, including “Knocking at the Knitting Club”, the motivational “Gertie Get On With Your Knitting” and the catchy “And Then She’d Knit, Knit, Knit” which could only be Canadian with the […]

New Music for Old Films

It’s a year to go to the ridiculously expensive and already very annoying London Olympics, and details are beginning to emerge of the plans for something called the Cultural Olympiad, a scheme for arty events that will be happening at the same time as the sporty ones. The latest is one that I’ve read about […]

“Miralto Me Re”

F. T. Nettleingham’s excellent intoduction to Tommy’s Tunes (1917) explains the necessity for bowdlerisation, and for the exclusion of some songs: Soldier readers of this work will appreciate to what extent I have purged some of their favourites, and will appreciate all the more the reason I found it impossible to present even a purged […]