Academic journal article American Studies

MUSIC ALONG THE RAPIDAN: Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia

Academic journal article American Studies

MUSIC ALONG THE RAPIDAN: Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia

Article excerpt

MUSIC ALONG THE RAPIDAN: Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia. By James A. Davis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 2014.

When Ken Burns's The Civil War aired in the fall of 1990, its narrative, imagery, and lyricism captivated the nation, as it became the most watched television program in the history of public broadcasting. Narrated by a range of voices-regal inflections, grim baritones, and regional vernaculars that included David McCullough, Sam Waterston, Morgan Freeman, Garrison Keillor, Julie Harris, and Jason Robards-sonic elements were at the center of its popularity. But it was The Civil War's music, particularly the signature (and modern) piece, "Ashokan Farewell," that provided the emotional pulse of the series. The soundtrack introduced countless late-twentiethcentury laypeople to mid-nineteenth-century music, creating a type of general public around a sensory experience. In Music Along the Rapidan: Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia, musicologist James A. Davis explores that relationship between sounds and people during the war itself.

A case study, Music Along the Rapidan examines the link between music and community as the Union Army of the Potomac and Confederate Army of Northern Virginia glowered at one another across Virginia's Rapidan River during the winter encampment of 1863-64. Davis begins with a simple premise: music is a social process, and who we are and where we are listening is just as important as what we hear. Indeed, Civil War camps combined downtime with high musical literacy, soldiers with civilians, officers with enlisted men, and-especially in the case of northern armies-considerable social diversity. Music was ubiquitous in the form of field musicians, regimental bands, religious hymns, minstrel shows, and campfire string quartets. It could be a bureaucratic routine, a communal ritual, and a deeply personal behavior, Davis argues. Music was also functional, acting as an emotional release, an instrument of order, a means of grieving or entertaining, a source of nationalism, and a mode of class delineation. In short, "musicking" was an identity-shaping experience, according to Davis. It was both transformed and transformative, and its contours reveal much about nation, class, race, and religion during the Middle Period. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.