Songs in the Key of President C: A Short History of Music on the Campaign Trail (Digital Lecture)
From the 1840 bid of William Henry Harrison, who was “sung into office,” to Donald Trump, who entered the 2016 Republican National Convention to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” music has played a significant role in presidential campaign pageantry. This lecture traces the history of the campaign song through examples that span from 1840, the first campaign marked by unprecedented musical activity, to the most recent 2016 presidential race in order to shed light on the aural dimension of electoral politics.
This lecture was made possible by the Digital Lectures in American Music initiative, sponsored by the Society for American Music's Education Committee. Aimed at a general audience, each Digital Lecture seeks to explore a compelling topic of broad interest and to engage with contemporary scholarship in American music studies.
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Pins on the Trail
The research assistants at Trax on the Trail have curated a collection of Pinterest Boards with links to campaign music videos, articles, and resources. You can access these boards here.
Campaign Music 101 in the Music History Classroom
Teaching Music History Conference, Berklee College of Music, Boston MA, June 11, 2017
Dana Gorzelany-Mostak (Georgia College), Naomi Graber (University of Georgia), Hanna Lisa Stefansson (University of Georgia), Cameron Steuart (University of Georgia), Mary Helen Hoque (University of Georgia), Sarah Kitts (Georgia College), and Kassie Kelly (Trinity University)
Contributors to Trax on the Trail gave a workshop on how to incorporate campaign music into music history classes at the 2017 Teaching Music History Conference. You can access the slides for our presentation and our handout below. The handout contains campaign music lesson plans and a comprehesive bibliography on the topic.
Trax on the Trail and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame join forces to bring you Rock & Roll to the White House
Kassie Kelly (Trax Education and Outreach Coordinator) and Dana Gorzelany-Mostak (Trax Creator and Co-editor) join forces with Leah Branstetter (Rock Hall Digital Education Coordinator), Mandy Smith (Rock Hall Education Programs Manager), Kathryn Metz (Rock Hall Manager of Education Outreach) and Deanna Nebel (Rock Hall Education Instructor) to bring you an exciting and timely lesson unit that explores the use of rock music in presidential campaigns. Our unit includes footage of artists and politicians opining on intersections between music and politics, a Spotify playlist, images of artifacts from Rock Hall's own museum, and slides to accompany class discussions. You can check out our plan here:
Popular Music in U.S. Presidential Commercials
Candidates typically enter the rally stage to a pop song, but what happens when they use these tunes in their commercials? In this lesson plan, Joanna Love (University of Richmond) offers discussion points and activities for teachers of non-majors who wish to explore the role pop music plays in branding the candidate.
The History of Presidential Campaign Music
Eric T. Kasper and Benjamin S. Schoening, authors of Don't Stop Thinking About the Music: The Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns, bring you a lesson plan that will guide students through the history of campaign music.
Trax on the Trail Podcast Series
Trax on the Trail Podcast, Pt. 1 "Super Tuesday Edition," featuring Dana Gorzelany-Mostak and James Deaville WRGC 88.3FM (aired March 1, 2016)
Trail Trax: A Campaign Music Database (Poster presented at the 2016 American Musicological Society Conference)
Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Mark Misinco, Cannon McClain, Sarah Kitts
Trax on the Trail's research on campaign music is facilitated by Trail Trax, a MySQL database that documents music usage on the 2016 campaign trail. Our team of student researchers catalogues:
• campaign theme song(s)
• playlists offered online or at rallies, events, or conventions
• parody videos on sites such as YouTube and CollegeHumor
• underscoring used in television or Internet advertisements
• candidate performances of music
• artist performances at fundraising events that benefit candidates
• artist endorsements or complaints about copyright infringement
• media references to a candidate’s or party’s music.
Trail Trax allows users to run musical searches by composer/performer, date, location, genre, and candidate. Individual entries include a hypertext link to the candidate’s song or video, performance notes, and in some instances, music analysis. The availability of multiple search filters allows users to research the music strategy of a particular candidate, create a snapshot of the soundscape on a given day, investigate the evolution of the soundscape over the course of the election, or create a catalogue of sounds heard in a particular city. Our poster demonstrates the capabilities of Trail Trax as a research tool and outlines strategies for utilizing the database in music history classes.