Charles Frazier's Use of Music in Cold Mountain Essay

Charles Frazier's Use of Music in Cold Mountain Essay

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Charles Frazier's Use of Music in Cold Mountain

The American Civil War was a bitter, grief-filled conflict with oddly musical overtones. A Southern soldier, Alexander Hunter, recalled that “There was music in plenty,” (Lawrence 169) just as Charles Frazier’s character Stobrod in Cold Mountain remarks that “there was so much music back then” (407). While both the Union and the Confederacy placed great import on music, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier focuses primarily on the Southern perspective of the war, in all of its aspects. Spiritual music gave soldiers hope, gave them something cheerful to listen to after their days of slogging through the grime of human remains, as Inman discovers during his journey. Songs of homecoming and perseverance also strengthened the women, children, and parents left behind, waiting with fearful hopes for the return of their loved ones. Ada’s continual reference to “Wayfaring Stranger” illustrates this point beautifully. Finally, the musical natures of both armies created a bond that otherwise would not have been possible, forming brief alliances among enemies. The impact of music during this period of American history was so great that General Robert E. Lee was heard to say “I don’t believe we can have an army without music” (Wiley qtd. in Waller and Edgington 147). Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain exemplifies this statement, interweaving music throughout the struggles of Ada and Inman, using it as a tool to express emotion and to give a common thread to the broken culture that was the American South. The dissonant harmonies of Civil War-era music both complemented and contrasted itself, creating new forms from old ones and forging bonds where there had been nothing.

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S.A., R. “God Save the South!” Ballads of the North and South in the Civil War. Comp. Walbrook D. Swank Colonel, USAF RET. Shippensburg: Burd Street P, 1996. 66.

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Waller, Lynn, and William P. Edgington. “Using Songs to Help Teach the Civil War.” Social Studies 92.4 (2001): 147- 150.

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