Project structure, activities, and deliverables

Duration of project

32 months, with a prospective start date of 1st May 2014 and end date of 31st January 2017. This timetable allows for the setting up of the project in good time for start of the school year in September, and for an appropriately scheduled final conference and performance at the end of the Autumn Term of 2016, leaving January clear to write up the final report and project evaluation.


Learning Works in Europe CIC (sole applicant; other contributors listed below and detailed in Appendix IV: Briefs for internally and externally commissioned work)

Project participants

We have put together a team of subject experts, mostly from Kingston University, in the core areas addressed by this project. The contributors are envisaged to be:

Dr Christopher Hutchison, Learning Works in Europe CIC (project leader; digital heritage expert)

Dr John Mullen, Université Paris Est (Paris XII) (subject-expert history of Music Hall)

Prof Keith Grieves, Kingston University (social historian of the Great War, home front)

Dr Ruth Wood, Kingston University School of Education (education consultant)

Dr Duncan Grewcock, Kingston University (course director of MA Museum & Gallery Studies and MA Heritage)

Dr Robert Knifton, Kingston University (postdoctoral researcher within the Visual and Material Culture Research Centre)

Maria Soriano, Radio Days Ltd (musician, music teacher, music arranger, vintage music expert)

Ivan Chandler, Musicalities Limited (copyright expert)

Anthony McConnell, Teddington School (Head of Humanities)

We have also had expressions of interest from Wilton’s Music Hall and from the Museum of London.

Project deliverables

  1. a comprehensive open-access digital library of popular music in Britain immediately prior to (c.1912-1914) and during the First World War (1914-1918) and in the early post-war years (1918-1920), including audio files (song recordings, piano rolls), sheet music, ephemera, scholarly documentation, and a classified directory of web links to relevant third-party resources (e.g. the Internet Archive, various university collections). We propose to use an open source collections management system as a platform for the digital library. Candidates we are considering and will be evaluating include CollectiveAccess, Greenstone, and Omeka. The audio file will be encoded in the open source FLAC and Ogg Vorbis formats.
  2. a series of six one-hour learning workshops in each of eighteen secondary schools in London and the south-east of England, including a mobile exhibition, with a view to instituting self-sustaining extracurricular (digital) heritage clubs (see Appendix VIII).
  3. the development throughout the duration of the project of multimedia learning packs, including text, sound, images, and video, to be published and distributed to schools, libraries, and other educational institutions.
  4. the dissemination of the learning outcomes of the project via (i) an end-of-project conference, to include (ii) concert performances, and (iii) to a far broader constituency, performances and a permanent exhibition in immersive environments, as well as (iv) distribution of the learning packs.

There will be parallel development of both the online music library and the offline cross-curricular (music, history, English, ICT) education programme. The latter, primarily designed for National Curriculum Key Stage 3, is expected to take place primarily in schools. However the skills training for digital heritage should be offered more broadly, including undergraduate and teacher training.
Deliverables 1-4 above are described in more detail below.

The digital library

A comprehensive digital library of between 300 and 500 popular songs performed and recorded during the years 1914 to 1918 (‘war songs’) and 1918 to 1920 (‘impact-of-war songs’) to be built during the funding period. We envisage this permanent library growing in subsequent years to in excess of 1000 popular songs as a unique repository of Britain’s musical heritage.[36]

The library will include both audio recordings and sheet music, richly documented and catalogued using a standard metadata element set such as Dublin Core or similar. Popular songs of the First World War will, for the first time, be catalogued and documented as core social history, and not trivialised as simply ‘music of the era’.

Learning events

We plan to organise a series of learning events in which, through the medium of live music performance, a mobile exhibition, and multimedia presentations (to include the use of immersive environments), we will show how ordinary people’s consciousness of the War and sense of self was shaped by the music of those years.

The project proposes to run learning events in eighteen participating secondary schools (9 in each of the two full school years of the project), each comprising three interleaved ‘modules’: a two-hour introductory familiarisation session and musical performance delivered by the Radio Days Ltd vintage music project, a two-hour introduction to and overview of popular music as social and cultural history, and a final two-hour workshop in digital curation, the three sessions to be spread over a week. These are detailed below and displayed schematically in Appendix XIII (‘Indicative structure of school class schedule’).

Module 1: introducing the music

The first module (2 hours) familiarises learners with the music of the era through dramatic performances by the Radio Days Ltd vintage music project of a selection of illustrative songs. The learning content will include studies of song structure, orchestration, lyrics, and vocal technique; and facsimiles of original sheet music will be provided where possible. Students will be encouraged and coached to learn at least one or two songs for one or more end-of-project public performances. (Key Stage 3 Music: “As an integral part of culture, past and present, music helps pupils understand themselves, relate to others and develop their cultural understanding, forging important links between home, school and the wider world.”)

Module 2: history and IPR

The second module (2 hours) contextualises the songs within the broader history of the place of popular music in British cultural life, as well as the history of music production and distribution, in the first two decades of the 20th century (sheet music, piano rolls, recordings, gramophone manufacturing, music hall). Learners will be introduced to examples of types of song (as entertainment, recruiting songs, marching songs, patriotism and propaganda in popular song, songs as reportage, songs as markers and makers of social change) and their social impact. In anticipation of the third module, there will also be an introduction to issues of copyright and intellectual property, as well as a tour of existing digital repositories. (Key Stage 3 History: the First World War; the campaign for women’s suffrage; everyday life in the 20th century. Key Stage 3 English: the English literary heritage; Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Isaac Rosenberg, etc).

Module 3: the digital curator

In the third module (2 hours) learners will be introduced to key concepts in identifying, tagging, and cataloguing objects, and tutored in the building and management of digital asset management systems. (Key Stage 3 ICT: file management; data handling; searching for information; information, reliability, validity and bias; audio data and sound files.)

The multimedia learning packs

Multimedia learning packs (text, audio, images, video) for education will be iteratively developed throughout the duration of the project, at present envisaged to finally comprise: an authoritative book encapsulating the history of the songs, their musical and literary content, and their historical importance, with learning materials that link to KS3 and above in History, Music, English, and ICT; paper reproductions of postcards, letters, sheet music, posters, and miscellaneous ephemera; a DVD comprising digital copy of the foregoing together with original film footage from the era; and a CD of 22 indicative original recordings from the Great War period. The learning pack will be licensed for use under the Creative Commons licence ‘Attribution Non-commercial’.



Announcements and events in schools, public libraries, museums.

Print and broadcast media

Various, including Memory Lane[37] magazine, Radio Twinwood, the UK’s 1940s Radio Station,[38] Retro Jukebox,[39] Angel Radio,[40] South-West London Television[41]

Relevant shows and festivals

Various, including the Military & Flying Machines Show,[42] the Vintage Festival,[43] Twinwood Festival,[44] the 1940’s UK Radio Station’s Road Show,[45] and the Festival of Vintage.[46]

Final conference, exhibition, and performances

The end-of-project academic conference, exhibition, and musical re-enactments will bring the project to a broad audience.

All musical performances are likely to be organised in an appropriate heritage space (e.g. Wilton’s Music Hall, the Museum of London, or in National Trust properties such as Polesden Lacey) with each group of participating learners having been prepared prior to the event through the provision of media packs (text, images, audio, video) that we will provide in order to facilitate their active participation in the event. (Detailed as deliverable 3, ‘The multimedia learning packs’, above.)

The events will have specialised musicians (voice and piano, both conservatoire educated), in costume of the period, against the background of a multimedia projection that will together engage the active participation of the audience. The learners will have the opportunity to listen to songs from World War One, sing along to those that they have learned, and also to listen to original voice recordings from those who lived through the war, to view images from the Front, to participate in quizzes, and immersively enter a 3D virtual battlefield on screen.

3D multi-user immersive environment

Core to the dissemination phase of the project, crucial to its reaching a broad audience, and key to its sustainability beyond the funding period, will be the permanent exhibition in an immersive environment. We have secured the collaboration of Oxford University’s War Poets Exhibition in Second Life, a simulation of trench warfare on the Western Front, as a platform for performance and exhibition for the duration of the project. We have already constructed a rudimentary pilot theatre and exhibition space.[47] Drawing on the experience of one of the project team in seamlessly integrating an immersive environment in a real-world public lecture,[48] the project will ensure both synchronous and asynchronous access to the broadest possible audience.

As the virtual environment is now privately owned by Kenneth Lim of the Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and made available to our project without cost as a personal gesture of goodwill, this must be seen only as a temporary arrangement. In the longer term we would argue the need to create and manage a dedicated space for the project in Second Life; but this would be a separately funded project.

Project evaluation

The project will be continuously monitored throughout the funding period and beyond. See further details in 4. Outcomes.

Next section: Outcomes



  1. Mullen (2012, p.14) estimates there to be around 300 recordings of the era still in existence. We aim to locate as many of these as possible; the remainder of the library is expected to comprise sheet music, lyrics, and related documentation. At a minimum, known titles and their composers and/or performers will be listed.
  13. “Learning without walls”–the CISM Annual Industrial Lecture. Available at:
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