Dissertation Research - Music and WW2

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by rosieknight87, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. rosieknight87

    rosieknight87 Junior Member


    I am currently in my final year of studying towards a degree in popular musicology at the university of Salford, and am in the process of writing my dissertation which is entitled: 'Popular music and the war effort: The fight for patriotism and national unity during world war 2.'

    My research will be examining the idea that popular music can be used as a part of a war effort. This is an area of research which hasn't really been written on before, so I need as much information as possible!

    I have written up a short questionnaire and hope that some people who remember the time may be able to answer it for me! The questions are all opinion based so there is no right or wrong answer, and please feel free to pass the questions on to any friends or family who may also be able to answer! I need as many responses as possible! If you do answer the questions then please make your answers as in depth as possible, and include as many details as you can, and please refrain from yes/no answers as these won't help me at all!!

    By doing this you really would be doing me a massive favour and I would be eternally grateful! Please, help me get a first class degree!!!!

    The questions are as follows:

    Qu. 1: Please name the top five artists and/or records (less if necessary) which stand out in your memory as the most popular during or shortly after World War II.

    Qu. 2: Is there a certain genre of music (ballad, comedy, etc) or song topic (love, war, parody, patriotic, etc) which you recall as being particularly popular during the period ?

    Qu. 3: Why, in your opinion, were these songs so popular?

    Qu. 4: Please name your favourite song of the period, and give your reasons as to why this song stands out in your memory.

    Qu. 5: Do you recall any instances whereby either the public or government actively attempted to use music as a means of promoting unity/patriotism/etc? If so, please describe these events.

    Qu. 6: How did music effect you personally during the war?

    Qu. 7: Please describe any personal experiences you have had, which may be a good example of music being used for morale boosting/patriotic/nostalgia inducing reasons (public events, dances, radio shows, concerts for soldiers, etc)

    Qu. 8: What are your memories of the reaction of both the public and the BBC towards the music of America at the time. Do you feel that the opinions of the BBC differed to that of the public?

    Qu. 9: What are your memories of the music of Germany during the period in question? How was this music received? How did this music make you feel personally?

    Qu. 10: Do you believe that wartime entertainers (comedians, musicians, etc) played an important role during the war?

    Qu. 11: Why, in your opinion, was "The Forces' Sweetheart" Dame Vera Lynn regarded as such an influential and inspiring character during the war?

    Qu. 12: Do you believe that the work of the ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) was important to the war effort?

    Qu. 13: Do you believe that the BBC's role of general entertainment broadcaster changed during World War II?

    Qu. 14: Do you believe that the governing power of the BBC had any negative effects on the music you heard, news you received, etc?

    Qu. 15: Do you believe that the government/BBC used music as a tool for propaganda?

    Qu. 16: Finally, do you believe that music can be considered as an important part of a war effort? Please explain you answer.

    If you have any other information or comments which you feel may be valuable to my research then please feel free to add them in at the end!

    Thank you for your time!

  2. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    I responded by email, I hope you got some others as back-up.

    Did I remember to mention the popularity of "It's a lovely day tomorrow" I'll add it here, it might spark off some memories amongst our mates here!

    “It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow”

    The front page of your paper is bound to make you sad
    Especially if you're the worrying sort
    So turn the front page over where the news is not so bad
    There's consolation in the weather report

    It's a lovely day tomorrow
    Tomorrow is a lovely day

    Come and feast your tear dimmed eyes
    On tomorrow's clear blue skies

    If today your heart is weary
    If ev'ry little thing looks gray

    Just forget your troubles and learn to say
    Tomorrow is a lovely day

    [alternate verse from British sheet music:]
    When I was young my mother would watch me
    On the days when it would rain
    She'd see me so unhappy
    My nose against the dripping windowpane
    And I would hear her singing this refrain

    I believe it was composed and sung by Al Bowlly, who also sang Goodnight Sweetheart, another popular song during the ward.

  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Rosie - I also responded by e-mail- but I always thought Vera Lynn was bit too syrupy and went more with Anne Shelton -Alma Cogan and others- should also mention Solomon -
    Moura Lympany- Myra Hess - Sandy McPherson as Morale Boosters- they all worked overtime
  4. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Rosie - good luck with your interesting research, your dissertation will be a valuable piece of work.

    I dipped into the subject for a museum project in the early 1990's. Unfortunately I don't have my notes however recall that I found the contemporary Mass Observation Survey results useful - these are most readily accessible in the works of Dorothy Sheridan (and Angus Calder) or directly at the University of Sussex.

    I also found some secondary sources relating to the relaxing of the attitude of the BBC towards programming light music and innovative comedy. I don't recall the sources, however the subject of relaxation of moral and 'family' attitudes in favour of encouraging young adults in the war effort was enlightening. It paved the way for later 'youth' orientated programming.

    Again, good luck.
    Keith Matthews
  5. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    I kept in touch with Rosie and recently received the following:-

    Hi Edna,

    Thanks for the email. I have had my results, and am pleased to say that I passed with a 2:1 honours degree, so I'm very happy!

    Thanks for your interest in my work!


    I expect she is now taking time to recover!

  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A very interesting and much-overlooked topic.

    For the US, you can find "hit parade" lists online going back to at least the 1930's, but I don't know if there is a British equivalent to that. The differences between US and British hit lists would be most instructive. I have sometimes found that an American song (or group, singer, movie, book, actor) that does not do well here will be surprisingly popular in Britain, and vice-versa.

Share This Page