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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Music lasts a lifetime. Aspiring fight song writers for 2013 Blackhawk faithful best be buckling down.

At the March 1st meeting School Board Member Joan Berndt  read a proclamation making the month of March  "Music in our schools Month." Half in jest she, who has a lifetime of experience in teaching music and whose spouse is a  retired band director. was asked if they were working on a fight song for the consolidated school.

The competition  for writing honors will indeed be fierce. Some of the best fight songs (certainly on the collegiate level)  have been written by students or recent graduates.That is true of two Michigan fight songs, The Victors and the less famous  Varsity

The latter in this writer's opinion is exceptional and  the former especially with the ten minute prelude tiresome. John Philip Sousa said the Victors was the greatest fight song ever written. Gustav Mahler, a prolific writer of symphonies, who died in 1911 a year before  Varsity was introduced, may have disagreed. Mahler who lived in twilight of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, included many  types music in his symphonies. March music is but one example.The inclusion in not just about the included..It is about how the insert works with other forms of music, A musical example uses the tunes of street musicians  getting mixed up in a passing funeral procession playing dirges.
Varsity, both the tune and the lyrics combines the promise of  youth,and  the life long relationship most of us will have our varsity. Be it world leaders, Academy award recipients , Nobel prize winners, or professional sports franchises.we cheer for thee Varsity.  It is also nostalgic recalling a moment in time when we had no fear for thee, Varsity.
Finding Varsity without The Victors is hard on You Tube. The only solo rendition  currently available is the black and white one above right. It is taken from a Play Station 2 game. Below Michigan students  sing both. The Victors as indicative of  a march, prompts some sort of physical activity like hand clapping. Varsity is more subtle.

This writer's first impressions of Varsity were at the age of ten. It was the signature  song of The Marching Yellow Jackets the pride of a small high school in a small Ohio town. If I recall correctly the local lyrics somehow managed to replace the word "Varsity" with name of the town,. A neat feat. It was only in  mid life that I discovered that the song was not a small town original, but came from the University of Michigan. When  I went to the high school's web sight and clicked on fight song, I discovered that Varsity had been dumped for the unmistakable sound  of On Wisconsin with the town name replacing, " Wisconsin".   The above rendition of  Varsity /Victors as sung by the  University of Michigan Law school a cappella Headnotes, prompted one You Tube viewer to write " I didn't realize a worse fight song than the Victors existed. I stand corrected."

I suppose change and the rejection of old favorites comes under the heading of the high price of growing old.

There is however a widely respected  and recognized fight song which celebrates one's academic and career achievements,  pride in the university as the place to send  your kids regardless of gender, and appreciation of the finer things in life like liquor. The last item and a persistent mention of a place other than the one the Almighty intended gives  the song an "R" rating. Still  it clearly put the University on the map  as the place of origin for wrecks that ramble. Despite critics who say the tune  is sung the manner of Civil War ditties  the song  has been rated as high as 4th  nationally in various Fight Song  Hit Parades. Viewer discretion advised.

So  Go to it song writers. You can do it if you Buckle Down.  It's March and The Musical Muse is here. All Month !

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