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Music as Advertising: The Story of the Armco Band

by Chaffee, Christopher Lloyd

Abstract (Summary)
Before the emergence and subsequent dominance of professional and school-based performing ensembles in the United States, music making was the domain of community-based groups that varied in size, scope, quality, and performance goals. Throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, one of the most common musical ventures was the industrial or corporate-sponsored ensemble. Advanced for a complex web of reasons, these groups served an important and often overlooked part in introducing communities to both music-making and regular concert attendance. Based in Middletown, Ohio, the American Rolling Mill Corporation (Armco) sponsored a concert band that serves as an exemplary case study of this phenomenon. While many community-based ensembles did not last nor had little local or national impact, the Armco Band achieved success as a regional and national entertainment act during the twenty years of its existence, 1920-40. A key factor in this success was the leadership of Middletown native Frank Simon. Dr. Simon founded the band after leaving the legendary Sousa Band. He utilized his extensive performing experience, knowledge of band repertoire, and formidable musical skills to shape the Armco Band into a professional ensemble of considerable ability. The purpose of this essay is to present a case study of the Armco Band as an important popular entertainment phenomenon in American music. The primary function of the Armco Band was to entertain a mass audience, and this has an inexorable link to the Armco corporate agenda. This paper examines the history, personnel, programming, and community reaction to the Armco Band to explore the intertwined ideas of commercialism and music production.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:armco band frank simon industrial bands

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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