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Selling Sounds (Chap. 6: Perfect Pitch)

CHAP. 6 – PERFECT PITCH

Music Trades, Mar. 9, 1918

Music Trades, Mar. 9, 1918

After the United States entered World War One in 1917, the different elements of the music industry all were actively involved in supporting the war effort. Portable phonographs, for example, became almost a kind of war materiel, an invaluable means of staving off the boredom of trench warfare. On the home front, phonograph companies sought turn fevered support for the war effort into sales, as with this advertisement at right, which promises “Hand Grenades of Laughter [and] Trench Bombs of Melody.”

Meanwhile, Tin Pan Alley wrote and published patriotic songs, and phonograph manufacturers converted their manufacturing operations to the production of war materiel. Prominent musical artists, meanwhile, performed at benefits and fundraisers. For foreign-born artists, this was an effective means of demonstrating their loyalty to the United States. Here’s a recording of Caruso performing the war’s most enduring popular anthem, George M. Cohan’s “Over There.”

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