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Mr. Dietz is a graduate of Lawrence College and the University of Michigan, and formerly was assistant professor of music at North Dakota State College (1950-1956). Presently he is a graduate assistant in the musicohgy area of the Department of Music, State University of Iowa. Some Modern Recordings of Civil War Music ROBERT J. DIETZ in the field of CONCERT music composed and performed during the Civil War period, almost no long-play recordings are available. This is not the case, however, with songs and ballads. Here the folk singer and collector of songs has been encouraged by recording companies to bring us the musical expression of the camaraderie of the men in the field, the Abolitionist , the spirited butflirtatious Southern belle, the propagandist, and the people inevitably left behind. Recordings are not plentiful, of course, but there are enough—with many songs duplicated on the various recordings— to present the problem of choice to the Civil War enthusiast The manner of performance must also be considered. For example, in the recordings listed below, there are at least four different arrangements of "The Bonnie Blue Flag," ranging from a male vocalist with guitar to a chorus with full orchestra; or the tender "Lorena," which is sung in one case as a ballad to guitar accompaniment, in another, with accordion, violin , and double bass, and in another, with flute, harp, and strings. We have become so accustomed to hearing works like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic ," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and, more recently "The Yellow Rose of Texas," in full orchestra and chorus settings, that to hear them sung simply is a startling revelation. In some cases, the recording companies have issued a descriptive brochure with their products, the mostimpressive and informative accompanying Columbia's The Confederacyand The Union. Also elaborately detailed, though obviously produced on a much smaller budget, is the booklet included with Folkways' Ballads of the Cidl War. Here typewritten notes for each ballad, photographs, sketches, and excerpts from newspapers of the period are included, but the quality of print is, unfortunately, rather poor. 319 320BOBEBT J. DIETZ Amongthe recordings examined, the following have been chosen as representative and are readily available. songs and ballads of America's wars, Elektra EKL 13. One ten-inch LP. Sung by Frank Warner. Notes by Anne Warner. In addition to three songs from the French and Indian War, three from the American Revolution, and one from the War of 1812, Frank Warner sings six selections from the Civil War. The informative notes on the back of the jacket indicate the source of each song and how Frank and Anne Warner first heard them sung. Throughout the album, the songs are presented either unaccompanied, or accompanied with guitar or wooden banjo. Here is unaffected, sensitive, and moving ballad singing. The sound is excellent. The songs recorded on Side 2, 'The Civil War," include: The North 1.The Battle-Cry of Freedom 2.The Twenty-Third 3.Virginia's Bloody Soil The South 4.The Southern Girl's Reply 5.An Old Reconstructed 6.The Bonnie Blue Flag ballads of the civil war, Folkways Records FP 5004 (FP 48-7, FP 48-8). Two ten-inch LP's. Sung byHermes Nye with guitar. Notes by Moses Asch. Here, as in Songs and Ballads of America's Wars, the time-span covered (1831 to 1865) is greater than in any of the following albums. This is best indicated by quoting excerpts from the early antislavery "Abolitionist Hymn," with which this collection begins, and from the bitter but proud "Old Rebel," with which it ends: We ask not that the slave should he As lies his master, at his ease, Beneath a silken canopy Or in the shade of blooming trees. Oh, I'm a good old rebelt Now that's just what I am; For this "Fair Land of Freedom" I do not care a damn! Hermes Nye, who introduces himself as "a professional Texan by inclination ," sings this varied group of ballads with appropriately varied interpretations , and, while not always convincing, always in good taste. Not all of the songs included here are specifically Civil War songs, but all are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 319-324
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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