Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



War Songs is a song cycle of poetry by Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Iraq War veterans Andrew Borene, and Brian Turner, written in the summer of 2010. It also includes an arrangement of the popular wartime song “Over There” by George M. Cohan. In writing this cycle, I researched the Iraq War, especially the justifications for invading the country. I also researched previous musical works about war. This research informed the composition of the cycle. While I wanted to illustrate the issues of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I also wanted the cycle to be universal and to have its relevance to endure, therefore I selected texts for this cycle that transcend their original time and place and is universal to the subject of war, resonating with today’s readers, and those for generations to come.

Therefore, I see three objectives of the War Songs cycle. First, it commemorates the service of American veterans from these current wars, and previous wars. Second, while it does not present a pacifist message, it is a plea that every possible peaceful solution be sought before we ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives. Finally, it is a plea that we as citizens remember and honor the sacrifices of veterans by electing leaders who do the same, not just in their words, but in their actions, policies, and work toward peace.

Level of Honors

cum laude


Conservatory of Music


Stephen McCardell

war songs reduc.pdf (561 kB)
War Songs Score

War Songs.pdf (1076 kB)
War Songs - Text of Songs

War Songs, I. Over There (Johnny Get Your Gun).mp3 (2828 kB)
I. Over There (Johnny Get Your Gun)

War Songs, II. Beat! Beat! Drums!.mp3 (4785 kB)
II. Beat! Beat! Drums!

War Songs, III. Sand.mp3 (1954 kB)
III. Sand

War Songs, IV. Here, Bullet.mp3 (2437 kB)
IV. Here, Bullet

War Songs, V. Dirge for a Soldier.mp3 (7441 kB)
V. Dirge for a Soldier