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The sounds of silence: music in the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration


Philpott, CJ, The sounds of silence: music in the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, The Polar Journal, 3, (2) pp. 447-465. ISSN 2154-896X (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/2154896X.2013.846976


The leaders of the Antarctic expeditions of the Heroic Age (c.1897–1922) commonly encouraged their men to engage in cultural activities in order to keep them occupied, alleviate boredom, strengthen the sense of camaraderie and ward off symptoms of depression. While the importance of literary activities (such as journal keeping and "newspaper" production) to various Heroic Age expeditions has been acknowledged in the literature, little research has yet to be conducted into the vast quantity and variety of music that was taken to and/or created in Antarctica during the same period, despite the significant role that it appears to have played in the everyday lives of the men who ventured there. Drawing on the written journals and published accounts of the expeditions, musical scores and expeditionary newspapers, this article explores the role and value of music in the Antarctic expeditions of the Heroic Age and examines some of the earliest known musical responses to Antarctica, including the first Antarctic "opera", various original sledging songs, and the unique collection of occasional songs composed aboard the Morning in 1902 by Gerald S. Doorly. Collectively, this music not only provides a record of the explorers’ experiences and perceptions of the Antarctic – significantly, it also offers valuable insight into exactly what they did to entertain themselves and boost team morale during long voyages at sea, gruelling sledge journeys and freezing cold, lonely winters in Antarctica.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctica; Heroic Age; exploration; music; culture; entertainment
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, CJ (Dr Carolyn Philpott)
ID Code:88966
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:School of Creative Arts and Media
Deposited On:2014-02-21
Last Modified:2017-11-16
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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