Constructing French Cultural Soundscapes at the BBC during the Second World War
Chapter 2 - Sounding the Nations 19
Chapter 2 Sounding the Nations The extent to which music could be used in constructing national sound- scapes realised new potential when allied to technology that broadcast to mass audiences at home and overseas. Radio ef fectively liberated music from the bounded landscape and geography of the nation state, and in doing so new applications of value and ultimately of meaning obtained – not least when it was broadcast in alliance with ‘national publicity’: a combination of advertising – analogous with the commercially valuable – with a style of broadcasting that aims to maximise its return in propaganda terms.1 Such publicity inevitably intersects with issues of national identity and was emphasised particularly in programmes and cultural missions that in the parlance of the BBC and British Council promulgated the positive ‘projec- tion of Britain’.2 Music transmitted by radio in such a way could be seen as an intention to cultivate in listeners a sense of unisonality where partici- pation in nation, or in the case of the BBC’s first forays in non-domestic broadcasting, empire, is experienced in spite of a displaced relationship with the medium of communication.3 Following the overview of cultural memory and soundscapes in the previous chapter, my focus here is to look first at the issues of nationhood as expressed in cultural propaganda, contrasting the situation in Occupied 1 Brian Currid, ‘The Acoustics of National Publicity: Music in German Mass Culture, 1924–1945’, PhD thesis, University of Chicago, 1998. 2 See Christine Okret-Manville, ‘La politique de promotion culturelle britannique en...
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