Temperance battle songs (article)

Annemarie Mcallister, “Temperance Battle Songs: the Musical War against Alcohol,” Popular Music (2016). Part of a special issue on music and alcohol.

In common with similar popular pressure groups, the temperance movement needed to inspire, to inform and to integrate its members, and music was a vital tool to fulfil these functions. This work explores temperance music, particularly songs, performed in a range of contexts from concerts of 15,000 voices to individual use of material produced in songbooks and periodicals. The tonic sol-fa movement grew symbiotically with the drive for temperance and, with developments in printing and distribution, this musical technology enabled effective spreading of the temperance message through activity and entertainment. A case study of songs for children reveals that, predictably, songs were informed by religion to some extent and acted as vehicles for propaganda, instilling principles and offering guidance. However, many were more martial and encouraged children to act as agents. Temperance songs were not merely instructive; many were designed to rouse the singer – and hearer – into action
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