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Julia Nicholls

Julia Nicholls is a researcher, composer, arranger and performer studying the Master of Music (Research) at the University of Western Australia. Her research interests include 1960s and current girl group music, instrumentation and arranging in popular music, and the significance of music in the experience of girlhood. Julia’s composing and arranging for her female a cappella quartet Clarion have received international praise and inspired her to research further into these topics.

"Orchestration and construction of gender identity in recordings of King/Goffin’s ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’"
The classical string instrument family has contributed extensively to the history of popular music. Classical strings were frequently used in girl group music, a commercially successful mainstream genre of the early 1960s performed by and for teenage girls and featuring the work of professional songwriters. Scholars such as Jacqueline Warwick and Susan J. Douglas have investigated the effect of classical strings in girl group music, pointing out the gentler, more feminine alternative they offer to more sexually charged and aggressive instrumentational choices. However, these texts do not explore aspects of performance style, such as articulation and bow stroke. In my presentation, I will examine how these, in combination with other musical elements such as the gender of the lead singer, are central to the construction of teenage female gender identity.

My case study for this is the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, originally recorded in 1960 by girl group the Shirelles. The song was the first girl group single to reach number one in the United States, and has been recorded by over 100 different artists and bands across a range of musical styles. I analyse how classical strings are used in versions of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” recorded by five girl group artists between 1960 and 1965: the Shirelles, Helen Shapiro, Lesley Gore, the Chiffons, and Little Eva. Comparing the orchestration and instrumental performance style in each version, I will discuss the teenage female gender identity constructed through these recordings in the context of the gender roles of the early 1960s.