Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Lawson, Katheryn. “Girl Scout Contrafacta and Symbolic Soldiering in the Great War.” American Music 35 (Fall 2017): 375-411.

The contrafacta of popular war songs printed in the Girls Scouts of the USA magazine Rally during World War I reflected two narratives of wartime girlhood: one connecting girls to common domestic feminine roles and another placing girls at the center of the narrative as soldiers. Music, including creating parodies of Girl Scout songs, has been a part of the Girls Scouts program since its founding in 1912 even though the specific uses of music are difficult to pin down in extant sources. Contrary to other early-twentieth-century girls’ clubs and lingering ideas of womanhood, Girl Scouts of the USA embraced equality with men. In the contrafact Scouts Yankee Doodle, domestic actions (cooking, growing food, making bandages) are framed in a military call to action (“the stars and stripes bugle call”). Anna Nelson’s contrafact of George M. Cohan’s Over There calls on fellow Girl Scouts to join in and do their parts “over here,” directly paralleling the heroic rhetoric of Cohan’s lyrics. The Rally contrafact of I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier subverts the pacifist sentiment of the original in the manner of other response songs such as America, Here’s My Boy, asserting that the Girl Scouts are “ready to do or die.” These Scout songs exist within the context of contrafacta as a means of organized protest music, a practice common in the Temperance, Suffragist, and Labor movements of the time. Contrafacta of Civil War tunes are particularly meaningful in turn-of-the-century American protest movements, and the Girl Scouts participate in this tradition as well. Adding to their protest nature, the rhetoric of active militarism in the Girl Scouts songs run counter to the passive “angel of the house” trope of girlhood present in published war music. Through these contrafacta, the women and girls in the Girl Scouts engage in a safe form of protest, recasting themselves as active agents in the home front of the war in opposition to their prescribed domestic roles.

Works: Unattributed (lyricist): Scouts’ Yankee Doodle (376, 380-82); Anna Nelson (lyricist): Over Here (Over There) (380, 382-84); Unattributed (lyricist): Why Don’t You Raise Your Girl to Be a Girl Scout (I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier) (384-85); Lois Henderson (lyricist): We’ll Do Our Bit for Our Country (Marching Through Georgia) (380, 389); Henry W. Roby: Marching Together (Marching Through Georgia) (391-92), Woman’s Rights in Dixie (397-98); Minnie B. Horning: Contest Song (392-93); Antoinette Arnold Hawley: Under the Star Spangled Banner (393-94); L. May Wheeler: November Twenty-Two, 1883 (394); Lillian Sunden (lyricist): And Thus We Stand United (Dixie) (394-96)

Sources: Anonymous: Yankee Doodle; George M. Cohan: Over There (382); Alfred Bryan and Al Piantadosi: I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier (384-85); Arthur Lange and Andrew B. Sterling: American, Here’s My Boy (384-85); Henry Clay Work: Marching Through Georgia (389-94); Dan Emmett: Dixie (394-98)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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