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date: 08 December 2019

Campaign musiclocked

  • Dana C. Gorzelany-Mostak


Music used by candidates, political parties, celebrities, or voters to enhance a political campaign. From the 1800s to the 1970s, US presidential campaigns included campaign songs that typically paired newly written texts with well known melodies or newly composed music. Political organizations and their affiliated glee clubs performed these ephemeral ditties at meetings, parades, and rallies. Scholars point to “The Son of Liberty” (composed for Thomas Jefferson’s 1800 campaign) as one of the earliest examples of a US campaign song; however, the genre did not gain momentum until the presidential election of 1840, the first to include widespread popular participation. Political parties distributed campaign songs such as “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” in songsters, which typically provided text only, but indicated the appropriate tune. The songs laid out the candidate’s stance on a particular issue, derided his competitor, or reassured the public of his noble character. By the middle of the century sheet music publishers jumped on the bandwagon, and starting in the late 1880s, Tin Pan Alley produced newly composed songs, marches, and even polkas dedicated to particular candidates for home consumption....

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