'Songs for the Millions': Chartist Music and Popular Aural Tradition

Bowan, Kate; Pickering, Paul A
April 2009
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Apr2009, Vol. 74 Issue 1, p44
Academic Journal
Songs and singing, and music making more generally, are a neglected aspect of the social culture of Chartism. Many of the Chartist musings that have been treated as poetry by scholars were, in fact, lyrics for songs with identifiable melodies which drew on a rich aural tradition in popular culture. Chartist rituals almost invariably involved music as well as speech; the ranks of the movement were filled with musicians. The music they made, in its many and varied forms, has not received full attention. This article forms part of a larger joint project examining the music -- lyrics and melody -- of popular politics in the long nineteenth century. It argues that music was a central part of the social culture of radicalism and an important, if neglected, element in the repertoire of politics.


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