Thursday, September 23, 2010

JCHC Fun Fact: Civil War Music

While editing and piecing together video today, I realized this project is lacking music.  I normally work with Pandora Radio playing in the background, so I never really noticed until I paused it to record some narration.  Sure, I could have the narration drive the videos, but that would be boring.  I would definitely be bored watching it, and I'm sure our patrons would also lose interest quickly.  To find a solution to this problem, I did what anybody would do; I searched for "civil war era music" on Google.  I figure putting authentic music in the video would be much more meaningful and appropriate.  On my search, I came across the "Music of the American Civil War" article on Wikipedia.  Reading through the article I found a very interesting fact that struck me.  Take a look at this passage from the article:

"Musical duels between the two sides were common, as they heard each other as the music traveled across the countryside. The night before the Battle of Stones River, bands from both sides dueled with separate songs, until both sides started playing Home! Sweet Home!, at which time soldiers on both sides started singing together as one.[15] A similar situation occurred in Fredericksburg, Virginia in the winter of 1862–3. On a cold afternoon a Union band started playing Northern patriotic tunes; a Southern band responded by playing Southern patriotic tunes. This back and forth continued into the night, until at the end both sides played Home! Sweet Home! simultaneously, to the cheers of both sides' forces.[16] In a third instance, in the spring of 1863, the opposing armies were on the opposite sides of the Rappahannock River in Virginia, when the different sides played their patriotic tunes, and at taps one side played Home! Sweet Home!, and the other joined in, creating "cheers" from both sides that echoed throughout the hilly countryside.[17]"

This amazes me!  Just think, two armies fighting each other by day, both sides suffering numerous casualties and wounds at the hands of one another, and by night, they are engaged in a friendly music competition that ends in a unity.  This, to me, represents the American Civil War very well.  A war fought between brothers, united on many fronts, yet divided and separated by differing views.  It's very poetic.

That Wiki article is also nice because it shows some key songs during the war, arranged by year.  So, I did a search on to see if I could find some of these songs in a compilation, and I found two that I'm going to further look into.  They are:


Both look like they'd be useful resources for this project.  I'll have to listen to some samples of the compilations to see what will be the best for my needs.

I hope you enjoyed learning a new bit of information about Civil War music.  I know I did!


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