Friday, May 27, 2011

Music of the U.S. Military

In honor of Memorial Day, here's a brief history of the official songs of the five service branches of the United States military.

Each branch of the military has its own theme song or hymn, and several performing groups that perform within that branch of the service.  These groups attract some of the finest performers in the United States, and many of them consider their membership the crowning achievement of their musical careers.

The Music Collection owns many of the compact discs produced by U.S. military ensembles, which perform all kinds of music, not just military music.  Check out the fine performances by the United States Air Force Band, the United States Marine Band, the United States Navy Band, and the United States Coast Guard Band. Ball State users can also hear a medley of all the offial military songs performed by the Air Force band and chorus here, via Naxos Music Library (Ball State log-in required from off-campus).

"The U.S. Air Force" is, appropriately enough, the title of the official song of The U.S. Air Force. Better known as "Into the Wild Blue Yonder," the song by Robert MacArthur Crawford was originally written in 1939 titled as "The Army Air Corps."

When the Air Corps became the U.S. Air Force, the lyrics were changed accordingly. The Air Force has several bands as well as Air National Guard bands, and vocal groups.  You can hear both vocal and instrumental versions of the Air Force song here.  The main vocal group in the Air Force is the Singing Sargeants.

    Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
    Climbing high into the sun;
    Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
    At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun!)
    Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
    Off with one helluva roar!**
    We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
    Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

The "Marine's Hymn" is the oldest of the service songs.  Legend credits the lyrics to a Marine on duty in Mexico during the Mexican-American War. The two famous opening lines, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli," refer to the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War and the Battle of Derne in 1805 during the First Barbary War. The tune is taken from the "Gendarmes' Duet" from Jacques Offenbach's Gedevieve de Brabant. Additional verses commemorate later wars and battles the Marines have fought.

The U.S. Marine Band is nicknamed "The President's Own" because it is the official band for events at the White House.  You can hear the Marines' Hymn as well as former Marine Band conductor John Philip Sousa's Semper Fidelis  here.  The second verse contains the most well-known words (below):
From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean.
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
"Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy and is also used as the Navy ceremonial song, though it is still unofficial. Written in 1906 by Lt. Charles A Zimmerman with lyrics by Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles, "Anchors Aweigh" was first played during the 1906 Army-Navy football game.  The original lyrics were later rewritten to reflect the entire Navy and not just the football team and their fans, including the famous third verse (below):
Anchors Aweigh my boys
Anchors Aweigh
Farewell to foreign shores
We sail at break of day 'ay 'ay 'ay
O'er our last night ashore
Drink to the foam
Until we meet once more
Here's wishing you a happy voyage home!
"The Army Goes Rolling Along" is based on field artillery First Lieutenant (later Brigadier General) Edmond L. Gruber's "The Caisson Song," composed as a morale booster for his field artillery unit while stationed in the Philippines in March, 1908.  A caisson is a two-wheeled, horse-drawn cart used to carry artillery ammunition, but now is used mainly in funerals.  Reworked lyrics, reflecting the whole Army and not just the field artillery, were written by Harold W. Arberg and dedicated on Veterans Day, 1956. 
First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army's on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong
* "Two! Three!" *
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.
"Semper Paratus" ("Always Ready") is both the name of the official Coast Guard song and also their motto. The original music lyrics were written by Captain Francis Saltus van Boskerck in the 1920s. The current lyrics were written by Homer Smith in 1943. In 1969, the first line of each verse was changed.

From Aztec Shore to Arctic Zone,
To Europe and Far East,
The Flag is carried by our ships
In times of war and peace;
And never have we struck it yet,
In spite of foemen's might,
Who cheered our crews and cheered again
For showing how to fight.

We're always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be,
"Semper Paratus" is our guide,
Our fame, our glory, too.
To fight to save or fight and die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Music for a Stormy Day

If you’ve been glued to The Weather Channel this week, you’ve heard a lot of smooth jazz, but never the whole song! To hear more from Ball State's Music Collection, go to the Media Finder for Music (Non-Classical) and select Jazz from the 1980s or 1990s. For that Weather Channel ambiance, check out Pat Metheny, David Benoit, Hugh Masakela, the Brecker Brothers, Bob James, Chuck Mangione, David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra, Grover Washington, or Lee Ritenour. And the ultimate 1970s-80s jazz group: Weather Report.

You can also search artists as "authors" in CardCat, or songs as keywords.  The Weather Channel posts their playlists here.  The Music Collection has compact discs by many of the artists listed.

If you'd rather ride out the storms with a good movie musical, try Stormy Weather, The Wizard of Oz, or Singin' in the Rain!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gustav Mahler: 1860 - 1911

Composer and conductor Gustav Mahler died 100 years ago today.  Although he was a resident of New York at the time, he passed away in Vienna, the city where he began his career.

His musical style bridges the high Romanticism of the Nineteenth Century and the Modernism of the Twentieth Century.  It also melds vocal and orchestral sounds, by including solo and choral voices in symphonies and using a full symphonic orchestra to accompany songs.  He was one of the few composers who made his living as a conductor, conducting both opera and orchestral music.  He converted from Judaism to Catholicism to qualify for his post as director of the Vienna Court Opera but still experienced anti-semitism.

In New York he conducted both the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.  Leonard Bernstein, also Jewish and a much later conductor of the New York Philharmonic, became a champion of Mahler's music, recording all nine of the symphonies twice.  He also recorded the songs for voice and orchestra, Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) and Lieder aus "des Knaben Wunderhorn"  (Songs from "The Youth's Magic Horn").  All nine symphonies, rehearsals, and Das Lied von der Erde are available on DVD in the Educational Resources Collections.

The Music Collection has several biographies of Mahler and books about his unique style as well as compact discs of his music.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Summer!

The Music Collection hours for the summer are the same as for Bracken Library:

Monday-Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.

Friday 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.

This week (Interim) the Library closes at midnight instead of 3:00 a.m.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

American Idol

Watching American Idol is sometimes like taking a walk down memory lane. Current contestants sing the hits of former contestants. Judges compare the singers to those that came before. Sometimes former winners make special appearances to present their newest hit song. Now that your finals are ending, you might enjoy the performances of the Final Five this month, leading to the grand finale.  These CDs from the Music Collection feature American Idol alums:

Clay Aiken (Season 2 runner-up)
   Measure of a Man

Kris Allen (Season 8 winner)
   Kris Allen

Kelly Clarkson (Season 1 winner)
   All I ever wanted

   My December



Chris Daughtry (Season 5, 4th place)
   Leave This Town


Fantasia (Season 3 winner)
   Back to Me

Jennifer Hudson (Season 3, seventh place)
   Dreamgirls: Music from the Motion Picture
   COMPACT DISC 16952 DISC 1/2

Adam Lambert (Season 8 runner-up and Indianapolis native)
   For Your Entertainment

Carrie Underwood (Season 4 winner)
   Play On

   Carnival Ride

   Some Hearts

If their success inspires you, check out Sing Like an American Idol. The Music Collection has both the Men's edition and Women's edition.  These are songbooks with CDs of the accompaniments with "tone 'n' tempo changer."  The introductions include auditioning tips and information about the vocal coach for the show.