Music frequently plays an important role in military
and social history. Often, songs become standards of
troops fighting in war, such as the "Battle Hymn
of the Republic" during the Civil War, "God
Bless America" during the World War years, "Ballad
of the Green Berets" in the Vietnam era and, most
recently, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"
in the Gulf War years.
This lesson will investigate some of the more familiar
and famous songs of the Revolutionary War period and
will examine how music helped convey messages of patriotism
and highlighted popular sentiments.
Related Resources for the Lesson
In this lesson, students will use the following resources:
1. Episode 5 of Liberty!, in particular the
segment on the British surrender at Yorktown, which
is included in Chapter 10, from 45:47-53:42.
2. The Songs of the Revolution page on the Liberty!
web site (http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle/songs.html)
3. The lesson draws on several song lyrics available
at the Franklin (Tennessee) Special School District
"A Time In Music" web site (http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/index.html).
The songs can be found at http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/chronicle_subject.html
- Click on Songs of the Revolution.
While the teacher may wish to have students view lyrics
to some/all of the Revolutionary-era songs on the site,
the following songs will be used for the lesson:
a."God Save the Thirteen States" (http://www.fssd.org/PGS/PGS_Digital_Museum/music%20Folder/save.txt)
b."The World Turned Upside Down"
c. "Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier"
d. "The Liberty Song"
Note: The teacher may also wish to play the melody
of a specific song. Each song is also available for
play as a .midi file. The teacher should prepare ahead
of time by ensuring that the web browser has the correct
plug-in installed to play .midi files and that the system
has a working sound card and speakers.
4. Information about the roots of the Liberty! soundtrack at http://www.pbs.org/ktca/liberty/liberty_music.html
5. Related Questions
PDF (for students)
6 . Related Questions
PDF (for teachers, with answers)
This lesson addresses the following national content
standards established by the Mid-Continent Research
for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/).
Understands the social, political, and religious
aspects of the American Revolution (e.g., decisions
leading to crisis of revolution, efforts by Parliament
and colonies to prevent revolution, the ideas of different
religions and the economic and social differences of
Loyalists, Patriots and neutrals)
Understands the social and economic impact of the
Revolutionary War (e.g., problems of financing the war,
wartime inflation, hoarding and profiteering and personal
and social economic hardships brought on by war)
Knows various roles that musicians fulfill (e.g.,
entertainer, teacher and transmitter of cultural tradition)
and representative individuals who have functioned in
Classifies unfamiliar but representative aural examples
of music (e.g., by genre, style, historical period and
Knows sources of American music genres (e.g., swing,
Broadway musical and blues), the evolution of these
genres and musicians associated with them
Strategy for the Lesson:
The teacher may wish to begin this lesson with a
quick overview of the historical importance of the
songs used in this lesson as well as other songs on
the web site. For example, the teacher may specifically
note that "The World Turned Upside Down"
was played during the British surrender at Yorktown
or that some of the specific lyrics might have served
to generate sympathy for the colonial cause.
Next, the teacher should distribute copies of the
song lyrics to each student or direct the student
to access the lyrics on the web site. (Note: One
suggestion to reduce the number of pages might be
for the teacher to "copy and paste" the
lyrics into another word processing document in a
layout which uses fewer pages). Distribute the
Allow sufficient time for students to complete the
questions. Once students have completed the question
sheets, the teacher should evaluate them according
to the depth of the answer desired, the amount of
time allowed for the assignment, as well as any other
criteria established by the teacher, such as spelling
1.Have the students write song lyrics or poetry
regarding a battle or event depicted in the Liberty!
series. They may either write lyrics that fit
the tune of a Revolutionary-era song, or if students
are able, they might want to write their own music
and lyrics for a song.
2.Ask students to compare a song from this lesson
with another war/protest song from more recent times.
Have them write a comparative essay regarding the