Music of World War 1
Music at the beginning of World War 1 (WW1) evolved from joyous sing song melodies to sombre recollections of battles, mates and tributes to those who had died. Australia was a young country it had only formed with a Constitution some 14 years earlier and this was its first adventure onto the world stage. Youth and enthusiasm was on its side. Men of all ages wanted to join the fight and the mother at home had no choice. Songs such as
“Along the Road to Gundagai”
“It’s a Long way to Tipperary”
“One Man Went to Mow”
These songs were typically sung by the young men in groups as they were joining up or more particularly when they were on their way to war. It was seen as an adventure for them something exciting; little did they know. The words used in the initial songs were light hearted and reminiscent of their homes. “Along the Road to Gundagai” for example used such words as “blue gums are growing and the Murrumbidgee’s flowing, beneath the sunny sky”. These lyrics painted a happy picture of homes and family of tranquil flowing rivers. They acted as reminder of things that the soldiers were leaving but it also made them feel happy about their quest. The melody was upbeat and the speed of the song was usually written in “moderato” which is a quicker livelier beat. Although the song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” is an Irish tune, it has the same upbeat manner and lyrics. “It’s a long way to Tipperary. To the greatest girl I love” signifies the happiness that the soldier had while he was at home. It is written in 2/4 time which is quicker than the songs that came after the war had commenced. Towards the end of the war, once the atrocities of war became known, “Hero “songs were written. Songs such as the “Heroes of Dardanelles”saw the language change “with the sword of fire and murder”. Lyrics were darker and referred to fighting and death and heroes. The speed in which the songs were written also slowed down most being written as...
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