Popular Music of World War I: Publications

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As described in “History,” planning began in 2014 for two 2015 conferences that took place in within weeks of each other, the first at the University of York and the second at the University of Illinois. Gayle Magee and Christina Bashford were my collaborators, colleagues, and friends during the planning process and in the conferences themselves, and shortly afterwards we began discussing several possibilities for publications. One, clearly, was an edited collection of essays that would draw on the conference presentations and on scholars known to us who were already active in the field. A second possibility was a special issue of a journal. And a third option was a single-authored monograph—an option that especially interested me, since I’d previously considered writing a monograph on settings of “In Flanders Fields.”

We felt we needed to move quickly, since it was very desirable that, if possible, all publications fall within the centennial period (2014–2018). A special issue could be more quickly implemented than the edited collection; and, as it happened, Gayle was about to become the general editor of American Music, published by the University of Illinois Press. It was relatively easy for her to persuade Michael Pisani, the outgoing general editor, to designate the winter 2016 issue of the journal a special issue on “Music and the Great War,” with Gayle herself serving as guest editor.

The University of Illinois Press would also be the most logical publisher for the edited collection, not only because it was the Press of the host institution for one of the conferences but because, for fifty years, its series “Music in American Life” has been the preeminent source for publications that treat American music in relation to social and political matters. Both Gayle and I knew the series editor, Laurie Matheson, well; and, as a bonus Laurie is an exceptional soprano and would be one of the performers in the lectures we devised and presented (singly and together) over the next few years. We wrote a proposal; peer reviews were positive; and a contract was signed at the start of November 2016.

I agreed to write an article for the special issue and a chapter in the edited collection. Since I was also contemplating an eventual monograph that would focus on the music industry during the war years, I decided to use the article and chapter to provide what would become bookends for the monograph: the article would consider the Mexican War of 1914, which was in some ways a direct precursor to American engagement in the Great War; and the chapter would focus on the aftermath of the war, specifically on music concerning loss and memory.

All three of us, we agreed, would co-edit the collection; and all three of us would write a “Prelude,” “Interlude,” and “Postlude” that would frame and contextualize the individual chapters. We constructed these as a conversation among representatives of Canada (Gayle), Britain (Christina), and the United States (me), and we tagged the text with icons to make clear who was “speaking.”

In writing both the article and the book chapter, I drew extensively on the spreadsheets I had constructed for the Myers and Driscoll collections, supplementing those with additional titles discovered through copyright records, newspapers, catalogues, and similar sources. The spreadsheet underlying the article was published, in modified form, as an appendix, but the spreadsheet for the book chapter was to be available on a web companion. The creation of that has been delayed, but I supply below both of the spreadsheets, with also three color images cited in the chapter text but not included. The book Over Here, Over There is available from the University of Illinois Press; the article is available in digital form on JSTOR.