Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Lohman, Laura. “‘More Truth than Poetry’: Parody and Intertextuality in Early American Political Song.” MUSICultures 47 (2020): 34-62.

Song parodies published in American newspapers were integral to American political culture from the 1790s through the 1810s as they exposed political “truth” in the first party system (Federalists versus Republicans) through mimesis, structural manipulation, and high degrees of intertextuality. Regardless of topic, word play with a model song’s lyrics was a core component of these political parodies. Some parodists just mocked their political opponents, as in Theodore Dwight’s Moll Carey, a parody of Isaac Watt’s psalm Ye Tribes of Adam Join. Others additionally mocked the model song, as in the anonymous Parody of a Federal Song, a parody of the Federalist song Friends to Order—Rise. In both cases, the model was readily apparent and the parodists made additional intertextual references to get their points across. Chains (a parody of a parody) and clusters (multiple parodies of one model) of song parodies demonstrate an even greater level of intertextual references and relationships. The chain of parodies based on Henry Mellen’s The Embargo exemplifies the way partisans on both sides of an issue argued back-and-forth through song parodies. A particularly large set of parodies on Thomas Campbell’s Ye Mariners of England appeared in 1812 debating the prospect of war with Britain. Parodies justifying or opposing the war were met with others serving non-political functions, including John Richard Desborus Huggins’s Ye Shavers of Columbia, a satirical advertisement for his barber services. The tradition of song parodies in early American political culture demonstrates the long-standing efficacy of political rhetoric delivered in an entertaining form.

Works: Anonymous: Parody of a Federal Song (39-42), A Parody Parodied or a New England Aristocratic Song, stripped of its fallacy, &dressed in the becoming garb of ‘native truth and unaffected simplicity (47-48), The Parody on Henry Miller (48-51), A Parody (55-56); Theodore Dwight: Moll Carey (42-46); Jonathan Mitchell Sewall: Hobbies, Parodied (46-47); Unus Plebis: Poetry (48-51); Simon Pepperpot, The Younger: The Embargo Parodied (48-51); Henry Stanley: Ye Freemen of Columbia (51-53); Alexander Lucas: Ye Members of Congress (53); John Richard Desborus Huggins: Ye Shavers of Columbia. A Barber-ous Ode (54-55); A Citizen of Monmouth: To the Soldiers of America (55).

Sources: Anonymous: Friends to Order—Rise (39-42); Isaac Watts: Ye Tribes of Adam Join (42-46); John Brown Williamson: The Hobbies (46-48); Jonathan Mitchell Sewall: Hobbies, Parodied (47-48); Henry Mellen: The Embargo (48-51); Thomas Campbell: Ye Mariners of England (51-56); Henry Stanley: Ye Freemen of Columbia (53).

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s, Popular

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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