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Visualizing World War II

Sept 2022 - Apr 2023


Project Description

A series of nineteen posters, sized 18"x 24", showcasing individual sound designs, and one poster, sized 24"x 36", housing all sound designs, categorized within three themes describing musical intent.

The poster series is accompanied by a publication, providing further context on each piece, design system, and background information on the project.

Thesis Question

Between the major Allied Powers of Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, and the major Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, how differently was music used to justify their political stances during World War II? 



During times of war, music is an important factor, as it has the power to influence the general opinion of citizens both subtly and blatantly. The project will look at two pieces from three Allied and three Axis powers to understand six countries’ approaches in using music to justify their political agenda. In particular, there will be a specific focus on these countries ー Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Russia. Each piece will be analyzed by its lyrics and sound in connection with its historical context and also to the other pieces, allowing audiences to visually and aurally interpret the similarities and differences in themes.

Research Context

Song Selection

As World War II was a major event that impacted multiple countries within a limited time period, there are many archives, papers, and articles that provide much documentation and information. Although there were some articles giving insight on the music scene during that time period, there are little to no sources comparing the music of these major countries who were involved in the war. My thesis topic serves as the connection between all of this information, and finds the main musical themes that were being broadcast simultaneously around the world.

My research fits within the psychological, musical, historical, and political fields of study. Even after 77 years, I could not find any sources that fully connect all the countries in a compare and contrast methodology to find the similarities and differences in their political tactics through music.

The pieces were chosen with the intent to have two contrasting themes from each country. That each country had either two different genres, two different musical styles, and most importantly, two different themes (where possible), in order to get as large of an analysis range as possible. Context on each individual piece was provided in the publication, working alongside the poster series.

©2024 by kristenchan.

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