It may seem at first contradictory that, alongside songs of a loyal and patriotic nature, it should have been quite acceptable to sing ballads about outlaws and bandits in middle-class homes. Reasons for the need to rehabilitate an outlaw hero like Robin Hood may be easily conjectured, but the negotiations and compromises involved in doing so are complex. A major area of negotiation concerns what crime the outlaw has committed, and against whom. If outlaws are perceived to be fighting local injustices in an age of feudalism (now rectified by capitalism), all is well; these people belong to the band of noble robbers Hobsbaum calls 'social bandits'. When outlaws fall into this category, he notes a 'tendency of "official" culture to upgrade them socially as the price of assimilating them, i.e. to turn Robin Hood into a wronged Earl of Huntingdon'.1 Contradictions remain, however, revealing that a compromise has been reached: for example, Robin Hood continues to use a peasant weapon, the longbow.
The key characteristics of the noble robber are that he is a male victim of injustice, kills only in self-defence, rights local wrongs, and ends by being betrayed. This kind of social bandit had not been seen in England since the early seventeenth century,2 but in the United States an example was furnished after the Civil War in the shape of Jesse James (1847-82). As part of Jesse James's assimilation into the dominant culture, he was projected as a man who never robbed widows, preachers, or ex-Confederates, and who commanded respect as a devout Baptist and a teacher of church singing. In Billy Ganshade's song 'Jesse James', written 'As soon as the news [of his death] did arrive,' he is already depicted as 'a friend to the poor', and as one who 'never would see a man suffer pain'. Even so, he was too uncomfortably close in time to be sung about in North American or British drawing rooms, where preference was given to the kind of romantic bandolero made familiar in the writings of John Haynes Williams (1836-1908). The street ballad, on the other hand, was always ready to forge links between the idea of the noble robber and contemporary criminals, as is demonstrated in the following lines, which supposedly issued from the lips of Leopold Redpath before his transportation:
I procured for the widow and orphan their bread,
The naked I clothed, and the hungry I fed;
But still I am sentenced, you must understand,
Because I had broken the laws of the land. [181/182]
The reaction of the bourgeoisie to these ballads was one of outrage: 'Some of these songs are indecent; almost all of them have a morbid sympathy with criminals' (Ritchie 205). It is obvious, therefore, that criminals or outlaws were only assimilated on certain conditions and after fierce struggle.
For an outlaw to be acceptable to the bourgeoisie, he had to be, in political terms, a reformer not a revolutionary. Robin Hood emerges from his assimilation as a true patriot; he has no wish to abolish the monarchy and is ready to swear allegiance to a just king. In some ways, the enthusiasm shown for Garibaldi (albeit a republican) in the 1860s is related to the enthusiasm for the outlaw patriot. A million people turned out to welcome him in London on his visit in 1864. There were Garibaldi blouses, Garibaldi Staffordshire figures, Garibaldi biscuits, and Garibaldi songs. Besides Olivieri's Italian 'National Hymn' which had become well known in J. Oxenford's translation as 'Garibaldi's Hymn' (1861), the latter included a 'Garibaldi' of 1860 and a 'Garibaldi' of 1864; moreover, after Italian unity in 1870 interest continued for some time yet, as is shown by 'Garibaldi the True' of 1874.
Another type of outlaw ballad, already met with in Chapter 1 ('The Wolf), worked in a different way. Here the protagonist boasts of his villainy but keeps his identity anonymous; thus, an important distinction is drawn between this kind of song and unacceptable 'low' ballads such as 'Sam Hall'. In 'A Bandit's Life Is the Life for Me!' of 1872, the singer adopts the persona of a roguish brigand who dwells in the mountains with his brave comrades. The appeal of the song would appear to lie in its offering the singer opportunity for a melodramatic performance calculated to inspire just the right degree of fear to stimulate excitement but not alarm on the part of listeners. The drawing-room audience is shielded from anxiety by two distancing devices: the musical accompaniment is based on a typical guitar-strumming pattern, and the bandit sings only of robbing monks and pilgrims. A clear hint is therefore given in both words and music that this is not Britain. Finally, the century which gave the world Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula also produced the drawing-room ballad for a demonic outcast. 'Will-o'-the-Wisp' of 1860 comes complete with ghoulish laughter and a delight in evil:
To mark their shriek as they sink and die,
Is merry sport for me,
I dance, I dance, I'm here, I'm there,
Who tries to catch me catches but air;
The mortal who follows me follows in vain,
For I laugh, ha! ha! I laugh, ho! ho!
I laugh at their folly and pain.
Where songs of outcasts were concerned, a working-class vernacular culture existed which rejected the ethics and morality of the bourgeois drawing room. A mid-century writer, commenting on the public house 'free-and-easy' entertainment, notes 'how alien the costermonger race is in sympathy and life from the respectable and well-to-do. Their songs are not ours, nor their aims nor conventional observances' (Ritchie 207). This cultural activity flourished in the pub, which was so [182/183] markedly working class as to be unavailable as an arena for hegemonic negotiation. The music-hall, on the other hand, frequently functioned as such. In the previous chapter it was seen how the music-hall played a part in winning over a large portion of the working class to imperialist sentiment; but the music-hall also provided a vehicle for bourgeois morality and values in the songs of 'respectable' entertainers like Harry Clifton in its early years, and Felix McGlennon in the later century. Clifton specialized in motto songs (for example, 'Bear It Like a Man', 'Work, Boys, Work', and 'Paddle Your Own Canoe'), though the only song of his well known today is 'Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green' [performance by author] (parodied as 'Cushie Butterfield'). Felix McGlennon's 'That Is Love' was quoted from in Chapter 3; but the song of his most familiar now, and one which follows an equally elevated plane of thought, is 'Comrades' (1890). Some music-halls, like Clifton's in London's East End, went in for regular doses of uplifting culture; there 'an entirely local audience of sailors, tradesmen and worse' were regularly treated to a half-hour's 'drawing-room entertainment' given by 'a small troupe in evening dress, with a piano, who recited and sang operatic and ballad numbers' (Bratton 30).
Blackface minstrel troupes, who often appeared at music-halls as well as more 'respectable' establishments, also included ballads (and parodies of ballads) in their entertainments (see Chapter 4). Minstrels, perhaps more than any other group of performers, helped to disseminate bourgeois song among the working class, since they performed in a wide variety of venues — large public halls, theatres, and pleasure gardens. Harry Hunter, the interlocutor of Moore's minstrels,'shared Clifton's passion for earnest motto songs (for example, 'Keep a Good Heart', and 'There's Danger in Delay'). The influence of the minstrels was spread far and wide by their being imitated in villages and by urban street performers.
Street singers of all kinds — glee singers, ballad singers, blackface 'Ethiopians' — who had bourgeois songs in their repertoire, provided another source of access to this material for the working class. The street singers themselves, according to one of their number, picked up tunes 'mostly . . . from the street bands, and sometimes from the cheap concerts, or from the gallery of the theatre, where the street ballad-singers very often go, for the express purpose of learning the airs' (Mayhew 3:196). Some of these singers, of course, learned songs to earn money in middle-class neighbourhoods rather than their own (Mayhew 3:196). Nevertheless, the printing of drawing-room ballads as broadsides shows that an interest existed in working-class environs.8 Other street entertainment was provided by the variety of mechanical instruments which had begun to appear at the end of the eighteenth century. On a recent recording of nineteenth-century mechanical instruments,9 a Cabinetto paper-roll organ can be heard playing blackface minstrel songs, a Celestine paper-roll organ playing nonconformist hymns, and a street piano (commonly known as a 'barrel organ') playing music-hall songs. These instruments, particularly the street pianos (which were developed in the 1870s from the cylinder piano), were mostly made by Italian immigrants living in London. They were pushed around by itinerant street 'musicians' who often had no knowledge of music and cared little for their maintenance and tuning. Legislation was introduced in 1864 to combat what was being declared a public nuisance. However, [183/184] care is needed in determining the class nature of the public to whom they had supposedly become such a nuisance. Consider, for example, the following contemporary words of caution:
Let not those who write abusive letters to the newspapers, and bring in bills to abolish street music, think they will be able to loosen the firm hold which the barrel-organist has over the British public. Your cook is his friend, your housemaid is his admirer; the policeman and the baker's young man look on him in the light of a formidable rival.10
The 'players' of mechanical instruments did take pains, all the same, to appeal to both a middle-class and a working-class audience, for obvious economic reasons. As one of them explains to Mayhew, 'You must have some opera tunes for the gentlemen, and some for the poor people, and they like the dancing tune' (Mayhew 175). In concluding this brief survey of street music, a mention must be given to the German Bands; these other groups of immigrant musicians constituted 'the second great fact of street music (Haweis 538). according to Haweis (he gave priority to the barrel-organists). They, too, had a varied repertoire which included Italian arias, occasional movements of symphonies, ballads, music-hall songs, and dances.
The working class found further access to performances of bourgeois music in parks (military bandstands13), spas (spa orchestras), and fairgrounds (especially after the perfection of the steam organ in the 1870s). There were also the cheap concerts, already briefly mentioned, such as those begun in the Crystal Palace by August Manns in 1855, which took place in a hall holding so many people that 'only a small charge was made for admission'.14 The pleasure gardens are usually referred to as being in decline in the nineteenth century. Part of this decline has been attributed to the need for land for housing and industry, but that fails to account for the opening of new pleasure gardens like the Eagle Tavern in 1822 and Cremorne in 1836; the latter replaced Ranelagh (closed 1803) as Chelsea's pleasure garden. It would seem reasonable to suppose that the meaning of the word 'decline' is in no small measure related to the hostile bourgeois reaction to the pleasure gardens being increasingly invaded by the petit bourgeoisie and wealthier working class (together with what they saw as a consequent increase in vulgarity and rowdiness). The bourgeoisie were beginning to feel alarmed at the 'thousands of idle pleasure-seekers' (Ritchie 198) in the gardens in the 1850s. The wages boom of the 1860s and expansion of leisure time encouraged further working- class interest in pleasure gardens. During this decade the wealthy residents of Chelsea complained that the value of their property was falling on account of its propinquity to Cremorne. When the garden closed in 1877, its 'open air dissipation' was compared to the 'indoor dissipation of the music hall'.16
Having seen how the working class found access to bourgeois song, the next thing to consider is the question of intention and reception involving this cultural material; for, if a relative autonomy exists, allowing meaning to be made in the process of consumption, then the meaning constructed by the working class during the consumption of bourgeois art may differ from that intended by its bourgeois creator. Tennyson, for example, might write of 'Airy Fairy Lilian', but the working class might make a new meaning of this epithet.17 The dialectic [184/185] between intention and reception emerges in examinations made by the Select Committee on Dramatic Literature in 1832. Thomas Morton, answering questions, remarks that there is 'a tendency in the audience to force passages never meant by the author into political meanings'.18 As an illustration, he recalls that when the king commanded a performance of Massaniello during the time of the revolution in France,
handbills were printed about the town to induce the public to assemble in the theatre, not to partake with His Majesty in the social enjoyment of the drama, but to teach him, through the story of Massaniello the Fisherman, the danger to his throne if he disobeyed the wish of his people, and the King was advised to change the play in consequence of that. [minute 3946]
The author of the play, James Kenney, was later brought before the Committee, and he explained with bewildered irritation,
there is no question, if I may be allowed the expression, that it has a Tory moral. The revolutionary fisherman is humiliated, and a lesson is taught very opposite to a revolutionary one. [minute 4081]
Some of the songs of Tom Moore provide a musical parallel to the above. 'The Minstrel Boy', for example, as performed by a celebrated singer in the Crystal Palace, may have been considered a purely uplifting aesthetic experience for the huge audience, and an occasion for winning wider appreciation of bourgeois art:
I shall never forget Grisi's rendering of 'The Minstrel Boy' at the Crystal Palace. She refused to sing again after three encores. The audience who had listened to her singing spellbound, rose in a mass, and the applause was like thunder. [Pearsall 74]
Yet 'The Minstrel Boy' also came to be appropriated as an Irish rebel song.22 The Anglo-Irish bourgeoisie, too, in struggling to shake off English political and economic restraints, lighted upon Moore's songs; 'The Shan Van Vocht', a rewritten 'Love's Young Dream', was published in The Nation, 29 October 1842, Dublin. The 'Shan Van Vocht' is the 'Poor Old Woman' who had come to symbolize a distressed Ireland. It is doubtful, however, that any Moore song held the same popularity as the songs born out of the people's own struggles, like Caroll Malone's ballad of 1798, 'The Croppy Boy' (cropped hair was the style of French revolutionaries). The Westminster Review in 1855 notes that this song 'has even now, in that unhappy isle, a fatal attraction and dread significance'.23 'The Croppy Boy' was not absorbed by bourgeois culture until the present century, when it was recorded by the concert tenor John McCormack and also featured prominently in the 'sirens' chapter of James Joyce's landmark of literary modernism, Ulysses.
There was a variety of ways in which the working class could respond to bourgeois song. It could be accepted without conscious alteration, any changes to words and tune being attributable to oral transmission. Thus the present-day 'Jingle Bells' is a simplified version of James Pierpont's 'The One Horse Open Sleigh' of 1857, published by Oliver Ditson & Co., Boston.24 The bourgeois song becomes, in cases like this, a sort of 'folksong', although one to be weeded out by [185/186] mediators who have felt able to define what true folksong is.25 Fred Jordan, for example, a Shropshire farmer 'discovered' by Peter Kennedy in 1952 whilst on a field trip recording for the BBC Folksong Archive, had bourgeois songs like Henry Clay Work's 'Grandfather's Clock' in his repertoire which earlier collectors would have rejected. A common method of working-class appropriation of bourgeois song was deliberately to change the words, but to model the new text around the original text. A nineteenth-century broadside ballad published by Pitts, 'The Chartist Song', uses Burns' 'For A' That, an' A' That' as its basis. The first stanza runs,
Art thou poor but honest man
Sorely oppressed and a' that.
Attention give to Chartist plan
'Twill cheer they heart for a' that.
For a' that and a' that,
Though landlords gripe and a' that,
I'll show thee friend before we part
The rights of men and a' that.26
The Burns original begins,
Is there, for honest poverty,
That hangs his head, an' a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by,
We dare be puir for a' that!
Throughout 'The Chartist Song', Burns' emphasis on moral victory is transformed into the desire for political victory.
Sometimes the new text, while loosely based on the original, is changed in order to make the song more relevant to the social circumstances of the singer. Henry Clay Work's 'The Ship That Never Return'd' (1865) was transformed into the railroad song 'The Wreck of the Old '97', in which appropriated form it has survived today while the original has been forgotten.27 Sometimes the new text parodies the original in an attempt to ridicule its sentiments, a technique Joe Hill uses in 'The Preacher and the Slave', a parody of'Sweet By and By'.28 A new text may show the influence of the bourgeois original but depart from it so radically as to require a new tune. 'The Spinner's Ship', a union song of the Preston strike of 1854, shows the influence of Charles Mackay's text to Henry Russell's song 'Cheer, Boys! Cheer!' (1852) but has dispensed with the latter's tune.29 Conversely, the tune may be retained but the original text completely ignored. This was, of course, common practice when the tune was a traditional air but also happened when the tune was of recent bourgeois origin: 'Strike for Better Wages', a song of the London Dock Strike of 1889, used the tune of Root's 'Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!' of 1864.30 It most often occurred with blackface minstrel songs, a well-known example being Joe Wilson's 'Keep Yor Feet Still!'31 which used the tune of Handby's 'Darling Nelly Gray'. Occasionally the tune survived more or less intact as a dance and the words disappeared altogether, as happened with 'The Dashing White Sergeant' in Britain and 'Turkey in the Straw' in the United States. [186/187]
What also must be considered is the collision between bourgeois and working-class musical practice. It should not be assumed that bourgeois song was automatically simplified when adopted by a working-class singer. The author recollects hearing an archive recording of a 'folksinger'32 performing 'The Mistletoe Bough' with decorations not in the original. Here, for example, is one of his concluding phrases, followed by Bishop's melody.
Embellishments found in vernacular musical practice (for example, slides and decorative two-note runs up or down to a main melody note) often derive from traditional methods of enhancing an unaccompanied tune, whereas the ornamentation in bourgeois music is frequently designed to exploit the tensions of a harmonic background. Another difference between bourgeois and working-class song performance is that of timbre, the colour of the sound. The timbre of the 'untrained' voice lends a more natural emphasis to words, since the tone is produced as in speech, forward in the mouth, with a considerable volume of air passing down the nose; the classical singer employs artifices like the chest register and consciously avoids a nasal tone. The appropriation of bourgeois song had its effects on working-class song, however, most noticeably in the increasing fondness shown for the major key rather than the old modes. Furthermore, there was a growing assumption of accompanying harmony to tunes, and a tendency for them to imply the characteristic chord progressions of bourgeois songs. Examples can be found today in American country music, which of all twentieth-century popular musical culture relates most closely to nineteenth-century bourgeois domestic music. To take but one example, a turn to subdominant harmony for the first half only of the second bar of melody — a move much favoured by Joseph Skelly (as in 'A Boy's Best Friend Is His Mother', 'The Picture with Its Face Turned to the Wall', and 'The Old Rustic Bridge') — finds an echo in Bill Monroe's 'Little Cabin Home on the Hill' and Hank Williams' 'Why Should We Try Anymore?', among others. The primary link is probably the blackface minstrel show; indeed, the first country star, Jimmie Rodgers ('the singing brakeman'), sometimes performed in blackface in his early days. Some nineteenth-century minstrel songs, such as 'Buffalo Girls' and 'When You and I Were Young, Maggie', have become bluegrass standards. Outside the world of 'pure' country, Mitch Miller had a million-selling record in 1955 with 'The Yellow Rose of Texas', a minstrel song written almost a hundred years before, in [187/188] 1858. However, it was country music which did most to absorb and revitalize bourgeois song, and not just minstrel song: Johnny Cash had a hit record in 1959 with 'Lorena', a ballad aimed directly at the domestic market in 1857.33
The explanation for the appeal of bourgeois song to working-class people and the meanings they were able to make of it are complex and, to a degree, impenetrable issues. Bourgeois music was part of the dominant culture, which in the nineteenth century gave it an exclusive claim to the label 'culture'. Drawing-room music may, therefore, have signified certain social aspirations, perhaps not simply economic, but moral and intellectual, too. The attraction of its 'refinement' may have lain in the realm of fantasy or escapism. A Balfe aria, like 'The Dream', may have suggested a world outside the squalor of working-class slums, and signified the hope of a higher quality of life.34 The reason for the connection between nineteenth-century bourgeois domestic music and modern country music may lie in the fact that the latter so often serves to articulate the aspirations of the American lower middle class.
Those who failed to be won over to bourgeois values or pursued their own 'unofficial' culture posed the biggest challenge to nineteenth-century bourgeois society. Here, a breakdown in hegemony inevitably resulted in its replacement by coercion: it would have required considerable daring, for example, to sing 'The Wearing of the Green' in England while the Fenian struggle raged, though whether it was an actual criminal offence or not has now been debated.35 In the last chapter it was noted that military bands were not allowed to play the 'Marseillaise' for much of the century; but, what is more, all public performances of the song were long proscribed.36 In addition to the attempt to eradicate songs of a highly political nature, there were constant moves to censor on moral grounds. Sometimes, however, an unexpected construction of meaning in the consumption of even the most impeccable bourgeois song could cause havoc. As Buddy Bolden's band played 'Home, Sweet Home!' (Performance by author) during the embarkation of troops for the Spanish-American War (1898), many soldiers jumped overboard and swam ashore, an incident which prompted the US Army to prohibit its performance at all future departures. The best kind of censorship, of course, is achieved when people censor themselves. Tennyson's 'The Charge of the Light Brigade', written in hot-blooded mood at the news from Balaclava and printed shortly after in a a newspaper, became popular with the Crimean troops, who relished the unprecedented suggestion of blunder:
Forward the Light Brigade!
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
After Tennyson's friends pointed out to him the offence given to the War Office, he removed the lines from his next published collection of poems (they remain excised from a recent Penguin anthology of Victorian verse). In this case the censorship was only temporary, probably because the 'monumental mismanagement' of the war was laid at the feet of the old aristocracy (see Best 261) John Blockley's setting of 1860, the only one to enjoy any measure of drawing-room success, is based on the original text.
Bourgeois song was also consciously employed as a medium of persuasion by various fractional interests within the hegemonic bloc. At times the persuasion was aimed at encouraging the working class to embrace bourgeois values, at others it was targeted at the 'better nature' of the bourgeoisie themselves, by depicting working-class misery. Temperance groups were especially fond of harnessing the power of music to their cause. The favourite method was to promote songs which portrayed the devastating effects of drunkenness on the home and family life, such as Henry Clay Work's 'Come Home, Father' of 1864. Mrs Parkhurst, a friend of Stephen Foster in his alcohol-sodden latter days, performed temperance songs in public with her daughter, 'little Effie', adding thereby an extra poignancy to compositions like 'Father's a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead' of 1868. Sometimes the fervour of the gospel hymn was joined to temperance ideals, as in the Rev. Ufford's 'Throw Out the Life-Line!', which makes typical metaphorical use of men needing to be saved from drowning at sea [performance by the present author]. Sometimes a stern admonition is given, as in 'Don't Marry a Man If He Drinks'. Temperance songs were published by 'respectable' firms in Britain, usually on the cheaper side of the market, suggesting the lower middle class as a target; the last-mentioned song was No. 4444 of the Musical Bouquet (1874), but an even cheaper publisher, Davidson, had earlier issued a Temperance Melodist. The in some ways radical Salvation Army was willing to parody any kind of songs which were already popular, in order to spread the word; other groups tended to use parodies only of 'respectable' songs, choosing those they thought had widest appeal. Whatever diffidence there may have been concerning the original material, the message of the temperance song was forthright. Here is the beginning of Emmet Coleman's parody of 'The Last Rose of Summer':
There's no hope for the drunkard,
Left dying alone.38
It will be noted that most of the temperance songs, like the gospel hymns, came to Britain from the United States.
Examples of bourgeois songs designed to persuade in a direct manner are legion. Where the young were concerned, the Sunday School provided an opportunity to drive home bourgeois ideology, at times with military-style drilling: Sabine Baring-Gould's 'Onward Christian Soldiers' (1864) was written for his Sunday School scholars to march to (it was originally written to a tune by Haydn; Sullivan composed his well-known tune later). In her efforts to smother egalitarian sentiments, Mrs Alexander verges on feudal absolutism in one frequently omitted verse from 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' (from Hymns/or Little Children of 1848):
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
GOD made them, high or lowly,
And order'd their estate. [189/190]
Besides promoting the dominant ideology, bourgeois song strongly attacked alternative ideologies, like Jacobinism. Dibdin's efforts have already been noted (in Chapter 1), but a hundred years later W. S. Gilbert can still be found attacking republicanism in The Gondoliers (1889), particularly in Don Alhambra's song 'There Lived a King', with its message,
When every one is somebodee
Then no one's anybody.
The song has an almost identical message to the one Capt. Marryat tries to put over in Mr Midshipman Easy (1836), when Jack Easy rebels against his father's views on the rights of man, and exclaims,
Were we all equal in beauty, there would be no beauty, for beauty is only by comparison . . . Were we all equal in ability, there would be no instruction, no talent, no genius.39
Marryat no doubt hoped to signify in young Jack's rejection of his father's opinions that Paine's ideas were outmoded; indeed, the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie were as keen to dismiss Paine as out of date as today's Conservative politicians are to write off Marx.
There were, in addition to the myriad songs of an openly didactic nature, the more subtle variety which fostered an imaginary relationship on the part of the working class to the real social conditions in which they lived. 'Home, Sweet Home!', with its apparent praise of the humble dwelling, has already been mentioned in this connection in Chapter 1, and the 'coincidence' of Weiss's setting of Longfellow's 'The Village Blacksmith' (that famous tribute to the poor, honest, hard-working individual [performance by author]) appearing in the same year as the great strike in Preston has been noted in Chapter 7. To give one more example, the favourite drawing-room song in the early nineteenth century about farm life was the anonymous 'To Be a Farmer's Boy', which scarcely seems to belong to the same world as that of the Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834, and the farmers' boys who, throughout the land, were being forced to accept cuts in wages.
Perhaps the effect most desired by the bourgeoisie was that their songs would persuade the working class of the rightness of bourgeois morality. The 1851 ecclesiastical census had disturbingly found an 'unconscious secularism' in big towns, where funerals were the only important religious ceremony. Outside the church the Utilitarians' scientific approach to morality ran into difficulties when measuring the moral priorities of certain needs against the preference of the majority. Soon the music-hall seemed set to overtake Christian teaching in guiding social morality, and the first example of what would now be called a 'moral panic' occurred over the "lions comiques. As 'sources of social morality', the halls and music-hall songs became as important as the modern media'.40 Gazing into this moral void, the bourgeoisie seized upon the supposed ability of music to influence behaviour: Haweis advised, 'Let no one say the moral effects of music are small or insignificant' (112). As will be seen a little later, the most powerful apparatus of the hegemonic bloc proved to be state education.
Before turning to the efforts made to teach the working class how to appreciate [190/191] 'good music', some thought must be given to those who saw in the drawing-room ballad an opportunity to prick the consciences of the bourgeoisie and campaign for social reform. An early example of a songwriter frequently engaged along these lines was Henry Russell (as was noted in Chapter 1) in songs like 'The Maniac' and 'The Song of the Shirt'. Bourgeois disapproval of this kind of socially concerned art was usually couched in terms of a circumscribing definition about the purpose of art: for instance, a favourite argument was that this was an area for charity work, not art; art should show that suffering enobles, not degrades. Nevertheless, a part of the bourgeoisie could not shake off their fear that a lack of social reform might prompt the working class to violence. Christian Socialism, for example, began in response to the 1848 revolutions abroad and to Chartism at home. It was a movement without a coherent manifesto, and its key figures, Ludlow, Maurice, and Kingsley, seem to have been largely ignorant of socialist thought; their paramount considerations were education and moral improve- ment. From 1849 the publication of Mayhew's articles entitled London Labour and the London Poor was a spur to action. The Rev. Charles Kingsley's attitudes were sometimes contradictory: he despised the industrial bourgeoisie, but said, 'it was God who taught us to conceive, build and arrange that Great Exhibition' of 1851.42 He also had periodic losses of religious faith; his poem 'Three Fishers Went Sailing' (Performance by author), which later in the century proved an outstanding success when sung by Antoinette Sterling in the musical educator John Hullah's setting of 1857, contains, surprisingly, no angels or other heavenly consolation in its final desolate stanza:
Three corpses lay out on the shining sands
In the morning gleam as the tide went down,
And the women are weeping and wringing their hands
For those who will never come back to the town;
For men must work and women must weep,
And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep,
And goodbye to the bar and its moaning.
Unfortunately, the fate of the poor fishermen arrives in an all too predictable manner for the song to convince today; and, indeed, the familiar tragic sea-song structure of embarkation, storm, and disaster never required more than an acquaintance with drawing-room ballad conventions to respond to its emotional content. Any knowledge of the class of people the song concerned was purely incidental; a point made by Sterling herself, who claimed that 'although she had never been to sea in a storm nor had even seen fishermen, she understood the piece by instinct'.42 Kingsley, himself, became ever more suspicious of attempts by working people to take control of their own destinies and finally moved to condemning the activities of trades unions in the 1860s.
Another problem existed with this kind of socially concerned ballad; it may throw light on the plight of an oppressed class, but it was addressed to the oppressing class, as its elegant diction and musical refinement make clear. Hood's 'The Song of the Shirt' (text) was published in Punch (1843), not The Poor Man's Guardian. Failure to recognize this, creates an apparent contradiction: [191/192]
The greatest song-writer for the people was, beyond all question, Thomas Hood: he felt their wrongs and sorrows most keenly. . . but, nevertheless, the great majority of his countrymen have never heard of either Hood or his songs.44
The above writer, however, acknowledges Hood's efforts 'in rousing the sym- pathies of the higher classes for their suffering brothers' (44). When Hood, in fact, was sent a collection of poems by Ebenezer Jones, a poet with Chartist connections, whose verse, in spite of its consciously poetic diction, made no appeal in its sentiments to the bourgeoisie, he reacted with outrage.46 It may seem ironic that some Chartist songs resembled the style of bourgeois domestic music, an example being 'Song of the Lower Classes' of c. 1856 (words by Ernest Jones, music by John Lowry). The relationship, it must be stressed, is one of style and not content, but it does show the strength of the dominant culture, in that protest or complaint was thought to be given greater dignity or status in this way. The bourgeois, socially concerned ballad continued to reverberate around drawing rooms (to little practical effect) throughout the century. A later example is Piccolomini's 'The Toilers' of 1888; in this song two orphans relate how their respective fathers died toiling for bread (one was a miner, the other a fisherman), and the appeal goes out:
O happy ones of this fair earth, While gather'd round your glowing hearth, Think of the toilers' load of care, And pray for all, in God's own pray'r: 'Give us, this day, our daily bread!'
The 'hearth', of course, is a talismanic word conjuring up bourgeois family values and given added significance here by the song's being about orphans. Typically, however, the call is not for action, but for prayers.
It may be wise to pause, before moving to educational questions, and consider the dominant culture's claim to the 'best' values in the arts. A fruitful comparison would be Beethoven's arrangement of 'Johnnie Cope' and Ewan MacColl's 'folk-style' performance of the song accompanied by Peggy Seeger, as recorded on the album The Jacobite Rebellions.47 A striking difference is found in the musical accompaniment to each version: Beethoven has provided a carefully written out score for tenor, violin, cello, and piano to be followed precisely, whereas MacColl has Seeger's semi-improvisational guitar for support. Furthermore, Beethoven interrupts the stanzas of the song with musical interludes which hamper the dramatic pace of the narrative and necessitate cuts so that the piece does not become over long. The cuts are also necessary to avoid monotony, since the singer can bring little variation to his part on account of its being doubled throughout by the violin, whereas MacColl can not only make spontaneous changes, but also indulge in the metrical irregularity of beginning a fresh verse halfway through a bar of accompaniment. In short, Beethoven's compositional efforts serve only to cramp the song in ways which cannot be redeemed by invoking the 'best' values of high art. One might ask, too, what the choice of instruments signifies: do the violin, cello, and piano represent an ideal timbre for the song, or are they chosen because they are instruments of the drawing room, in other words instruments [192/193] representative of the taste of a particular class? The inappropriateness of Beethoven's version may not be contested now, but it must be remembered that Thomson's purpose in commissioning it from one whose own work carried the authority of high culture was to raise the song's status as art. Therefore Beethoven's failure provides grounds for arguing that the cultural practices of subordinate social groups are not necessarily improved by applying the values of the dominant culture. Now, if culture bears a class character, then educationalists and those intent on 'culturing' the working class must be seen as performing a hegemonic function in promoting the dominant culture. To an early cultural theorist like Matthew Arnold there was no working-class culture, there was only one culture embracing the 'best' values, 'the best knowledge, the best ideas';48 Arnold wastes no time in Culture and Anarchy on the music hall.
The state was rather late in coming round to the opinion that 'culturing' the lower orders was desirable. Steps to promote 'good' music were taken first by religious groups and moralists wishing to create an appetite for 'rational amusement' among the working class. Moreover, it was hoped that an interest in music might lead to the substitution of wholesome recreation for that principal and notorious working-class recreation, drinking. The method most commonly chosen was to involve them in a choir. Here was the first snag; bourgeois music was based on a literate tradition requiring an ability to read musical notation, yet a musical skill like that had to be formally taught. Before the 1840s what little instruction in music was given in such places as Sunday Schools tended to rely on rote learning. In some areas, for example, Derbyshire, Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, whole oratorios had been learnt in this manner. These northern manufacturing districts were held up as a model:
Almost every town has its choral society, supported by the amateurs of the place and its neighbourhood, where the sacred works of Handel and the more modern masters are performed, with precision and effect, by a vocal and instrumental orchestra, consisting of mechanics and workpeople; and every village church has its occasional oratorio, where a well-chosen and well-performed selection of sacred music is listened to by a decent and attentive audience, of the same class as the performers, mingled with their employers and their families. Hence the practice of this music is an ordinary domestic and social recreation among the working classes of these districts, and its influence is of the most salutary kind.49
There were, of course, those on whom the salutary influence of music was thought to be wasted: for example, Huddersfield Choral Society (founded in 1836) had a rule prohibiting socialists from joining (See Mackerness 148).
Brass bands are also associated with the North and were seen by many of the industrial bourgeoisie as another way of providing 'rational amusement' for their workforce. In 1855 John Foster and Sons of Queensbury sponsored the band renowned today as the Black Dyke Mills Band. The growth of the railways created an opportunity to travel to competitions which were often very well attended: at Hull's Zoological Gardens (now no more) in 1856, 12,000 people paid to hear a contest in which first prize was awarded to the Leeds Railway Band (Mackerness 168). The repertoire of brass bands relied heavily on bourgeois taste: [193/194]
The correspondent of a London paper, while visiting Merthyr was exceedingly puzzled by hearing boys in the Cyfarthfa works whistling airs rarely heard except in the fashionable ball-room, opera-house, or drawing-room. He afterwards discovered that the proprietor of the works, Mr Robert Crawshay, had established among his men a brass band, which practises once a week throughout the year.52
It is interesting to note that the above, written in 1850, refers to a band being sponsored in Merthyr Tydfil, a hotbed of Welsh Chartism less than a decade earlier.
During 1840—50 the bourgeoisie began to place increasing trust in the power of music to win the working class over to their values; the following two quotations from this period show typical opinions on music: 'a means of softening the manners, refining the taste, and raising the character of the great body of the people'.53 and 'a means of refining the tastes, softening the manners, diffusing true pleasure, and humanizing the great mass of the people'.54 These quotations are separated by an interval often years, which helps to illustrate that the phrases 'softening the manners' and 'refining the tastes' were truisms. The breakthrough in bringing 'good' music to 'the great mass of the people' had come with the development of new methods designed to facilitate sight-singing. The key figures were Joseph Mainzer (1801-51), whose book Singing for the Million was produced shortly after his arrival in Britain in 1841; John Hullah (1812-84), whose text book Wilhelm's Method of Singing Adapted to English Use was also published in 1841; and John Curwen (1816-80), whose Grammar of Vocal Music of 1845 sowed the seeds of the system which finally won out. Mainzer embarked upon a lecture tour, spreading his method of teaching to the provinces (particularly Bristol, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Manchester) and to Scotland. His efforts were supported by the temperance movement and various educational establishments, including mechanics' institutes. The latter, dating from the early 1820s, had turned into places of rational recreation for the lower middle class by the 1840s and were eagerly starting up singing classes for members and their families (Mackerness 147-50). One of Mainzer's most notable achievements was founding Mainzer’s Musical Times and Singing Circular in 1842; it was taken over by Novello two years later and survives today as the Musical Times.
Hullah began his classes at about the same time as Mainzer, but the second edition of Hullah's text book had the advantage of being able to refer to its having been produced 'Under the Superintendence of the Committee of Council on Education', thereby indicating government approval. The government may have been swayed in so doing by the French government's formal sanction of the Wilhelm method (the basis ofHullah's own). Nevertheless, encouragement was all that was given: an article in 1850 pointed out, 'the Government has never contributed a shilling to the support of any of Mr Hullah's classes.'56 Hullah's success was seen in 1847 to be of a limited kind, however; it was 'almost wholly confined to the preparatory adult classes of choral societies and normal institutions [places for teacher training]' and he had 'failed generally to connect music with the primary instruction of elementary schools'.57 In 1849 the Westminster Review remarked that Hullah's classes, 'instead of spreading over the country, as [194/195] was intended, are chiefly confined to the training of recruits for one or more of the London Sacred Harmonic Societies'.58 It should be pointed out, though, that many of the members of these choirs were of the working class.59
It was the nonconformist clergyman and non-musician Curwen who produced the tonic sol-fa system which eventually overtook all else. He had been commissioned, at a Sunday School conference in Hull, to find the simplest way of teaching children to sing by note. His inspiration was the Norwich Sol-fa Ladder of Sarah Glover (1785-1867), which had a movable doh, in contrast to the fixed doh of the Hullah and Mainzer systems; it meant, in effect, that there was only one key, doh being the name given to the first note of any key (there are obvious similarities to the use of a capo on a guitar). So successful was Curwen that from the mid-1870s enormous Tonic Sol-fa Festivals became an annual event at the Crystal Palace, tonic sol-fa choirs having by then spread to almost every town in Britain.60
Despite government approval for the use of Hullah's method in schools, by 1860 tonic sol-fa dominated. Schools began to play an important role in disseminating bourgeois musical values among the working class, particularly after the Elementary Education Act of 1870, in which the government made provision for a system of 'National Education' controlled locally by 'School Boards'. The school is a crucial part of the hegemonic cultural apparatus; indeed Althusser once saw the school as the dominant ideological state apparatus of capitalist society.61 Althusser argued that the school became the dominant ideological state apparatus not as the result of simple choice on the part of the bourgeoisie, but as the result of class struggle; otherwise the church could have continued to function as the dominant ideological state apparatus, as it did in feudal society. Hence, even in 1885 one can find the complaint that 'our Government. . . literally does next to nothing for an art that has the power of making better citizens by its refining influences',62 and a plea put forward for 'a central Metropolitan Institution, aided by Government grants and subject to Government inspection' (Leslie 250) to develop a system of musical elementary education. Music was, in fact, designated a grant-earning subject in the rate-aided elementary schools:
music is acknowledged and supported by the State in the form of payment on results. In England and Wales, and also in Scotland, where the same code applies, a payment of 1s. per head of the average school attendance is made where the children can give some evidence of understanding written musical characters, and can sing from sight to a small extent. Where music from note is not taught a payment of 6d. is made for singing by ear three or four songs previously learned.64
The money given by the state was in recognition of music's importance 'from a trade point of view' and its well-recognized claims 'from a social standpoint' (Hill 137). The 'payment by results' system helped the cause of tonic sol-fa since there was an understandable tendency for schools to opt for the system which most easily produced the results the inspectors were looking for. Nearly all board schools (rate-aided schools) opted for tonic sol-fa; other methods, including ordinary notation, survived almost exclusively in public schools and voluntary schools (schools supported by voluntary contributions, as well as a fee paid by each [195/196] child).66 The Committee of Council on Education expressed no opinion on the merits of tonic sol-fa, 'but merely recognized it as having been adopted on a sufficient scale to justify official sanction'.67 As musical education was increasingly perceived to be important to working-class children in the 1870s, the public schools also found it necessary to remedy their previous neglect of music and ensure that their pupils were taught 'the difference between good music and bad',68 since many of these pupils had succumbed to the attraction of the very music which board schools were trying to eradicate from the minds of working-class pupils.
To the musician nothing is more pathetic than to find a nice clean cherub-faced youngster, hailing from the wilds of Scotland or Wales, the possessor, perchance of an angelic voice, knows nothing of 'Auld Lang Syne' or the 'March of the Men of Harlech', but can howl the latest London music hall vulgarity. [Parker 101]
Although 'Slap, Bang, Here We Are Again' and 'Champagne Charlie' (Performance by author) would not have been considered appropriate for music lessons in any school, some of the contemporary blackface minstrel songs were. In a list of songs taught to children attending the National School in the small Yorkshire village ofPocklington in the late 1860s and early 70s,70 minstrel songs of the 'improving' variety can be found, such as 'I'd Choose To Be a Daisy' and 'I'm Lonely Since My Mother Died' (both referred to in Chapter 4). The children there also sang hymns, such as H. F. Lyte's 'Far from My Heavenly Home', and simple arias, like 'O Forest Deep and Gloomy' ('Bois epais' from Lully's Amadis). This school seems to have used tonic sol-fa, because several of the songs used appear in the Tonic Sol-fa Times, which ran from 1864 to 1873. In some elementary schools a remarkable degree of accomplishment was attained, with glee-singing in two or three parts and even the mounting of large-scale works, as the description below from 1885 tells:
There is a school in the neighbourhood of Gray's Inn Road and Clerkenwell — not a Cultured or aristocratic region — a school where fees are a difficulty, and boots a ceaseless care - where boys, girls, and teachers united in studying Mendelssohn's 'Athalie' . . . The performance was listened to, and heartily appreciated, by a crowded audience of children, parents, school managers, and a few members of the board. [Browne 9]
The school performed this oratorio from a tonic sol-fa edition. It will be noted that music in schools meant vocal music; very few schools (including public schools) offered any other kind of musical instruction. It is thus clear that music which acted as a vehicle for text was deliberately privileged, partly no doubt because singing was the cheapest form of music-making and the most amenable to class teaching, but also perhaps because the dominant ideology can function more actively through the medium of song than through the abstract medium of instrumental music. To conclude with one among countless examples which illustrate this hegemonic function, a new version of 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' was composed by J. Tilleard (who was heavily involved in compiling school music for Novello) and 'intended to be sung by Schools' in commemoration of the passing of the Elementary Education Act' (Scholes 2: 861) [196/197]
Having been given an understanding and maybe an appetite for bourgeois music as working-class children, greater access to concerts and recitals then needed to be provided in order to keep up the good work. An example in London was the People's Concert Society (formed in 1878) designed to cater for the poorer parts of London (Lee 87). In the provinces, concerts were also promoted for their 'humanizing' influence on the working class. The chief constable of Chester states, in his report for the year ending 29 September 1870, that with the opening of Saturday evening concerts 'a considerable decrease in the amount of drunkenness takes place' (Leslie 248). In Glasgow the Abstainers' Union established Saturday evening concerts at the City Hall, which the magistrates recognized as 'a most valuable auxiliary in keeping the streets quiet on a Saturday night, in the prevention ofdrunkenness and brawls, and in the improvement of a healthy and moral tone' (248). Further stimulus to active participation in various forms of music-making (choirs, brass bands, etc.) was created by the ever growing number of competitions and competitive festivals from the 1880s onward. The last words go to Henry Leslie, a prominent judge in such competitions; his sentiments epitomize bourgeois hopes and desires regarding music as a means of promoting social order and family values among the working class:
If there exists any rational mental employment that can be given to the masses after their hours of daily work, no one will deny that a humanizing, elevating, and refining influence will be obtained, that must be productive of increased strength to the ties of social and family life, and consequently of powerful good to the national life.  [197/198]
Last modified 19 June 2012