Popular Music Studies has often concentrated on music since 1945, and a wide range of tools and concepts have been developed to aid in the analysis of text, music, production, reception, performance, scene or star. How far can these approaches also be applied to the commercial musical practice of earlier times? This paper will look at my own specialized field: music hall from 1880 to 1918, mostly in Britain but also elsewhere, and particularly at the First World War period. It will examine the work which has been done on musical repertoires, industrial processes and ideological constraints, and compare and contrast this work with various Popular Music Studies approaches. The limits of our sources, and differences in the nature of the musical material will be examined. In addition, the similarities and differences between the study of songs and of other objects of cultural history from the same period will be examined.
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- “What Difference Does it Make?” Studying Urban Popular Music from Before the Generalization of the Gramophone: The Example of the First World War Repertoire