British Army Music in the Interwar Years: Culture, Performance, and Influence

Hammond, David Brian (2018). British Army Music in the Interwar Years: Culture, Performance, and Influence. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis aims to identify how British army bands in the interwar years were a primary stakeholder in the music industry and to explore their role in projecting soft power for the British military. There were approximately 7,000 full-time bandsmen serving in the British army, which was about a third of the total number of musicians in the music profession in the United Kingdom. The War Office was the largest employer of professional musicians in the country and yet there has been very little acknowledgement of the contribution made by this body of musicians, both to the music industry and to the effectiveness of army operations. This thesis uses models from the business and management literature to interrogate the position of British army music within the context of military structures and the music industry in the interwar years. It reveals the extent that residential insitutions were organised to provide young boys for recruitment into the army as bandsmen and how these boys became an integral part of the music industry. It explores how army music set the standard for training and performance while creating sustainability for the music industry, which relied upon the existence of army bands for its business. The thesis then exposes the tempestuous relationship army bands had with the BBC and recording industry, as well as the function the military played in the adoption of an international standard of musical pitch. Finally, it uncovers the effective role and soft power influence of British army bands and their music in the maintenance of British imperial authority, at home and overseas, and the tragic consequences of operating at the forefront of the military campaign in Ireland.

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