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A year-by-year musical look at the politics, personalities, and perspectives that remade a nation in the Civil War era.
Audience members participate and sing along in an engaging, exploratory forum as we bring new life to lyrics, documents, and visual images from primary sources. Through camp songs, parlor music, hymns, battlefield rallying cries, and fiddle tunes, we examine the folksong as a means to enact living history, share perspectives, influence public perceptions of events, and simultaneously fuse and conserve cultures in times of change. This dynamic and engaging session features instruments such as banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, accordion, whistle, and guitar, and challenges participants to find new connections between song, art, and politics in American history.
- Antebellum Focus = 45 minutes
- Wartime Focus = 45 minutes
- Antebellum + Wartime, single set = 45 minutes
- Antebellum + Wartime, two sets = 90 minutes (+ intermission)
- Old Folks At Home (Foster, 1851) - Stephen Foster's 1851 song "Old Folks At Home" provides an excellent introduction to the antebellum period:
- Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel (Emmett, 1853) - Here are a few versions of Dan Emmett's song, displaying the far-reaching sense of international politics and breaking-news commentary to be found on the antebellum popular stage...
- Battle Hymn of the Republic (Howe, 1861) - Written in November 1861 by abolitionist poet Julia Ward Howe, this song seems to glimpse the fiery trial ahead:
- Bonnie Blue Flag (Macarthy, 1861) - Harry Macarthy's lively jig documents the secession of the southern states in winter 1860-1861...
- Vacant Chair (Root & Washburn, 1861) - George Root's setting of Henry S. Washburn's popular poem ...
- Dixie’s Land No. 5 (“Come, patriots all who hate oppression…”) - This LOC.gov songsheet shows us how Union partisans re-purposed Emmett’s 1859 minstrel walkaround: The opening lines establish reasons for
- Battle Cry of Freedom (Root, 1862) - "And at the fourth verse a thousand voices were joining in the chorus..."
- Home, Sweet Home: “Had we not had the river between us” - One private's account of the power & presence of music after a terrible battle:
- Kingdom Coming (Work, 1862) - Popular in both the North and the South, perhaps because of his ambiguous treatment of the plight of "contraband" (liberated slaves) ...
- Tenting on the Old Camp Ground (Kittredge, 1863) - "He thought of the many dear boys already gone over to the unseen shore ..."
- Song of the 1st of Arkansas (1864) - This rewrite of "Battle-Hymn of the Republic" puts the agency of social and economic upheaval squarely on the shoulders -- or rather, under the boot-heels -- of Colored Troops.
- Battle Cry of Freedom: “If we’d had your songs…” - Account given by anonymous captured Confederate officer...
- Dixie: “One of the best songs I have ever heard…” (1865) - Abraham Lincoln (April 10, 1865): "Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it."
- Marching Through Georgia (Work, 1865) - This jaunty march commemorating Sherman's March to the Sea proved to be one of Henry Clay Work's most famous pieces:
BANNER IMAGE CREDIT:
“Washington, D.C. Drum Corps of 10th Veteran Reserve Corps at leisure” (June 1865)