8 Pages

Chapter Fifteen: Patriotism and War (2): 1938–1945

It had been apparent for most of the 1930s that a resumption of the European War was inevitable. Music-making is essentially an urban activity which thrives on large reservoirs of people. A war in which the civilian population would be perceived as a target clearly posed a threat to those who earned their living performing to it. Mr Chamberlain and his umbrella had first made their musical mark in 1938 at the time of the Munich crisis, in the song The Umbrella Man. Popular music provided a vulgar wartime eloquence of its own, while light music reflected its victories and campaigns. Mass production of weapons of war depended on repetitive manual movements, the rate of which could be increased if performed to rhythmic music. For this programme, Eric Coates's recently completed march Calling All Workers was used. Songs such as Roll Out the Barrel or Yes, My Darling Daughter were rhythmically simple, and invited singing along.