Category: Projects

Primary Source Study of “The Union Soldier’s Hymn”

Throughout recorded history, music has played a significant role in political affairs around the world. The American Civil War is a prime example of an era in which music had real-time political impact as well as long-lasting sentimental effect. Whether inspiring soldiers in battle, evoking patriotism amongst citizens on the home front, or masking the horrors of the war, music proved to be an effective weapon for both the Union and Confederate armies (Davis, Tubb). While a handful of songs from the Civil War era accomplished all of these tasks and made an everlasting mark on American history, few songs achieved such high accolades. Even songs that failed to achieve such high levels of success and fame, however, offer valuable insight about the cultural and political sentiment of a time from which we are so far removed. Read more

Redefining perceptions of rap culture and the LGBTQ community

Headshot of Macklemore. Peter Yang, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Digital image, N.p., n.d. Web.

Pivotal moments in our country’s history are oftentimes represented by the music that comes out of those monumental events. While responsive and reflective songs have their own great place in American arts, it is the music compositions that shape our culture rather than become shaped by our culture that become some of the most influential works of their time. Rap music is one of the staple genres for shaping American culture by giving voice to political movements, creating protest and advancing social justice issues that are frequently overlooked for the sake of being politically correct. Read more

The Kordz’s Chords and Their Inseparable Cord to Lebanon

Picture of Moe Hamzeh looking out at protestors at Cedar Revolution rally in Beirut, from Mark Levine, Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (n.p.: New York: Three Rivers Press, c2008., 2008), p. 152. University of Alabama Libraries’ Classic Catalog. Web. 2 Nov. 2015

Triggered by the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, which was blamed on Syria, Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution had two goals: the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the establishment of independent Lebanese leadership. On April 27, 2005, all of Syria’s 14,000 troops withdrew from Lebanon (Zimmer), but while the Syrian government did disband, the efforts to establish independent Lebanese leadership led to further discord in the nation. Mottos used in the movement were Freedom, Sovereignty, Independence and Truth, Freedom, National Unity. At the major rally of the revolution which was in Beirut on March 14, 2005, Moe Hamzeh, lead singer for The Kordz, shaved his head to display the word “truth,” one of the mottos of the revolution. Read more

Straight Outta Compton and the War on Police Brutality

“N.W.A., from left to right: Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren” Myint, B. “The O.G.’s: N.W.A. members (L to R): Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren.” Photograph-Web. Biography. 7 Dec. 2015.

Straight Outta Compton is a certified double platinum album that was released August 9, 1988, by the rap group N.W.A. (McCann 368). In this album, group members O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson, Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby, and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young describe the everyday life of the black man in Compton, located in South Central Los Angeles. The album also sheds light on a domestic war that few Americans knew the true story behind: the war against police brutality and black-on-black violence. Read more

A New Era of Civil Rights Music

“Glory” (From the Motion Picture Selma) Oscar Performance. Perf. John Legend and Common. Academy Awards, 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

Since the time of Martin Luther King Jr., the people of the United States have made tremendous progress toward racial equality in our society. Segregation in public places has ended, protective laws have been passed, and many people have opened their minds and hearts to see beyond racial differences. Although this is true, that does not mean that racial tensions are nonexistent today. While divisive lines have been blurred over time, much of society still holds onto the hope that one day they will be erased altogether. Read more

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Photo by Emma Callesen. Dylan, Bob. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan. Rec. Winter 1962. John Hammond and Tom Wilson, 1963. Web 16 Sept. 2015. Held at the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was released in 1963 by Columbia Records and acted as a distinct catalyst for change by promoting the Civil Rights Movement and supporting the anti-war movement toward Vietnam in the United States. This was Bob Dylan’s first successful album; it includes songs such as “Masters of War” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” whose lyrics communicate his desire for peace and equality.  Despite the specific political meaning of the songs at the time they were composed, these have become ingrained broadly across American social movements and remain powerful to this day. Read more

Primary Source Study of “The Alabama”

Bowock, Andrew. CSS Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider. Rochester: Chatham Publishing; 2002. 48, 50, 57, 67. Print.

Held in the Hoole Special Collection Library at the University of Alabama is an original copy of sheet music for the naval song “The Alabama,” which was published in 1864. In the midst of the American Civil War, the music was composed by Fitz Williams Rosier and the lyrics were created by Edward King in order to commemorate the crew of the Confederate ship the CSS Alabama. The piece was written in response to a commission by a Confederate Act of Congress. Read more

Hull House Songs by Eleanor Smith: A Primary Source Examination

Addams, Jane. Photograph. Britannica Online for Kids. Web. 4
Jane Addams. Photograph. Britannica Online for Kids. Web.

Jane Addams’ Hull House was an influential immigration settlement during the Progressive Era that served not only as a safe haven for immigrants but as an educational hub in the areas of work skills, health and safety as well as music. Music education, one of the most unique elements of Hull House learning programs, educated immigrants about their own conditions, and also created awareness among the surrounding community of the struggles of immigrants in American society. Read more

“Over There”

Cohan front
George M. Cohan. “Over There.” New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 19–?, c1917. Music Score. Front Cover.

“Over There,” a patriotic piece of music from 1917 (Cohan 4) that encouraged American people of all ages to join the military during the beginning of World War I, was composed by George M. Cohan. Cohan was a singer, songwriter, actor, and playwright (Morehouse 178) from the early twentieth century who composed “Over There,” which has been referred to as “greatest song of the First World War” (Morehouse 17). Cohan’s “Over There” serves as a prime example of pro-American music during the First World War, and how such themes as patriotism worked into the realms of the everyday American life.

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