B.C. music instructor says touring swing bands lifted military spirits during WW II

Local music instructor Alan Matheson says the characteristically energetic and upbeat swing music was a great antidote to the grim realities of the Second World War.

"They were especially important for morale boosting," explains Alan Matheson

Big band ensembles toured military bases during the Second World War, playing upbeat and energetic swing music for the troops. (Jameziecakes/Flickr)

Local trumpeter, band leader and music educator Alan Matheson says characteristically energetic and upbeat swing music was a great antidote to the grim realities of the Second World War. 

"It was sort of the main vehicle for public dancing," Matheson explained to Hot Air host Margaret Gallagher.

Matheson says many Canadian and American swing bands avidly toured military bases throughout North America during the war.

"They were especially important for morale boosting," he stated.  

Matheson spoke with Gallagher during a Remembrance Day edition of Hot Air, which highlighted popular music during the Second World War.

Gaining popularity

According to Matheson, many bands gained fame during the Second World War.

"A lot of musicians enhanced their reputations because they had been heard by millions of people either playing live or via radio," he said.

For example, Matheson explained, musicians like Canadian trumpeter Robert Farnon went abroad to play music during the Second World War.

Farnon went on to become the musical director for the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Britain and was a contemporary of the American composer, Glenn Miller. 

Women in music

Matheson said the wartime period also offered opportunities for other musicians: women, who filled instrumentalist and composer roles.

"You'll see women occupying the chairs left behind by people who were inducted into the armed forces," explain Matheson.

He pointed to the American all-female band, International Sweethearts of Rhythm, as one example of the prevalence of women in swing music.

Although the popularity of big band and swing continued after the war, Matheson says it petered out with the rise of rock and roll toward the end of the 1940s.

With files from Hot Air.