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Patriotic musiclocked

  • James J. Fuld


Music that expresses devotion to the nation. In the United States, love of country has inspired a wide range of musical works, including concert music, hymns, marches, and, most especially, songs, celebrating their authors’ vision of the nation and inviting citizens to participate. Such visions may tap generally accepted ideological themes or attempt to reshape American identity, negotiating symbolic meaning or giving voice to new ideas or peoples. Although often inspired by times of national crisis, especially war, patriotic songs are less born of the moment than made and remade over decades by historical circumstance and national trends that draw the national imagination. Competitions to solicit patriotic songs rarely succeed; rather, inspiration and circumstance cohere to create famous or influential patriotic tunes (e.g., “The Star-Spangled Banner,” see below). Once established, patriotic music can become a site for rehearsal, reinterpretation, and even protest by individual performers or as mass singing. Patriotic songs often figure in social rituals—military pageantry, funerals, concerts, legislative sessions, graduations, and so on— and their performance traditions and even musical details may shift over time in both new arrangements and the oral tradition....

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