Burma and Western music after ‘Mandalay’
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Not only was Kipling’s poem very popular, both in verse and as a song, but it spawned a large number of similar musical works. At rst, they tended to follow Kipling’s lead fairly closely, even to the extent of copying his lyrics. However, later songwriters and composers were content to exploit the Western public’s attraction to the image of a lovelorn Asian girl waiting for her European sweetheart in an exotic place far away. While Kipling’s ballad initially inspired a number of soldiers’ songs, works were also written for music halls and other theatrical venues.1 Some were included in collections of ‘parlour’ or drawing room songs. A few were by amateurs. By 1918, however, and the birth of the so-called jazz age, Kipling’s ‘Burma Girl’ had become a familiar gure in popular songs written by professionals in the US and UK for much larger audiences. Burma even began to feature in ballets, classical musical works and advertising jingles. In various ways, these trends inuenced and were in turn inuenced by developments in the music industry, in particular communications technology.