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Making music on the march: sledging songs of the 'heroic age' of Antarctic exploration


Philpott, C and Leane, E, Making music on the march: sledging songs of the 'heroic age' of Antarctic exploration, Polar Record, 52, (6) pp. 698-716. ISSN 0032-2474 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0032247416000255


During the so-called ‘heroic age’ of Antarctic exploration (c.1897–1922), various parties of men invented songs to aid the act of sledging and to provide a mental diversion from the monotony of the task and the physical demands it made on the human body. Songs composed in this uniquely polar musical genre typically included rhyming lyrics that were highly motivational and expressed a united identity. The lyrics were usually set to the melodies of popular songs of the day. When voiced in unison by men out ‘on the march,’ sledging songs could help to promote team synchronisation and cohesion, and give the act of sledging (as well as the expeditions as a whole) a stronger sense of purpose and meaning. The singing of such songs, therefore, contributed in a very practical way to the overall success of many Antarctic expeditions of the ‘heroic age’. This article examines three sledging songs dating from this period of Antarctic exploration and investigates the historical context in which they were created and performed. It also considers what these songs reveal about the experiences of the men who participated in the sledging journeys and their earliest perceptions of the Antarctic environment.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Music
Research Field:Musicology and ethnomusicology
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:Music
UTAS Author:Philpott, C (Dr Carolyn Philpott)
UTAS Author:Leane, E (Professor Elizabeth Leane)
ID Code:106103
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:School of Creative Arts and Media
Deposited On:2016-01-29
Last Modified:2022-06-15
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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