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Topic: The art of the alma mater

  1. #1

    The art of the alma mater

    My high school doesn't have an alma mater, so I was asked to write one because nobody else in the school shows the ability/interest of writing music, and all the music teachers bugged out on it.


    I don't have to do it, but it'd be really cool to! And I'll get to conduct the band in it! And my name will go down in HPRHS history! And I can add it to my resume!!!

    The band director told me that I don't need to write words to it and that probably the chorus teacher or another student and I will colaborate and modify the theme to suit the words. He also said that it needs to be very lyric and easy for the audience to sing. Eventually it'll have to be for band and chorus. I can do the arranging. I LIKE that part!!

    Talk to me!

  2. #2

    Re: The art of the alma mater

    I'll give you a secret that worked for me: write a really BAD alma mater. Here's why:

    When I was a senior in HS, I re-wrote our alma mater because the original really sucked. Little did I know at the time, my new one sucked too.

    But then, when I was in college, my old HS realized how sucky my first one was, and they contacted me about composing a NEW new alma mater. This time it was a commission, my first ever (or second, I don't remember the order). Best $500 I ever made (that's a lot of money in college).

    So write a really bad one and sigh and roll your eyes a lot and say things like "gee, I would do such a better job after a year or two of composition study. here's my card."

    Have fun, good luck,

  3. #3

    Re: The art of the alma mater

    Conrats!! My high school had a terribly stupid alma mater . . . but since the school was terribly stupid itself, it fit fine, and nobody was interested in changing it.

    All I can recommend is "fiddle around" on your instruments and see if you can come up with melodies you like, nice triumphant melodies, or a beautiful lush melody, then simply build on that. I'm not sure I could recommend how to go about doing this, as composing the melody is the creative part! If you can close your eyes and hear your piece in your head, record it to your computer or something and then try to find the notes (if you have perfect pitch, this shouldn't be too hard! ).

    Also, I would probably keep the structure really simple, probably just two or three melodies (with different orchestrations or little variations when being played by the band) . . . and make sure they are memorable melodies so people will get them stuck in their heads! But if people are going to be singing it for years to come, you definitely want to make it something that will be easily memorized.

    I'm not sure I'd recommend writing a bad one on purpose though . . . there's no way to garauntee they'd hire you again later! It's probably best to always do your best, even though your best is bound to get better with time.

    Again, congrats, and good luck!!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  4. #4

    Re: The art of the alma mater

    Yeah, that's what I kinda figured. I'd fiddle around and get meslef something to work with. I once wrote a waltz and whenever I play it, and however many pieces I play after it, it gets stuck in EVERYBODY'S heads!! Maybe I should post it sometime. It's kinda tough, though, because there's a cadenza to MIDIize, and it really sucks considering what I now know about composition.
    So I can write catchy stuff, most of my melodies are. I'll work on it.


  5. #5

    Re: The art of the alma mater

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin
    Conrats!! My high school had a terribly stupid alma mater . . .
    High school Alma Maters are SUPPOSED to be terribly stupid...it's an incentive to graduate and go off to college so you never have to hear it again! Worked pretty well for me...

    "All hail to thee our high school,
    Our hats are off to thee,
    Forever you will find us,
    Deedle de de deedle dee!"



    good luck, Chris...getting the chance to do this is pretty cool!

    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  6. #6

    Re: The art of the alma mater

    Quote Originally Posted by southportJim
    "All hail to thee our high school,
    Our hats are off to thee,
    Forever you will find us,
    Deedle de de deedle dee!"

    I almost fell out of my chair!! Deedle de de deedle dee?!?!??

    I'll make sure they lyrics are a bit better...


  7. #7

    Re: The art of the alma mater


    While waiting for my hip to mend I listened to a lot of lectures about opera and watched (among other things) quite a few musicals so my perspective might be a bit influenced by all that but I would suggest considering having whoever is going to write the lyrics do them first. Then set the words to music. This is common practice (although there are undoubtedly exceptions and tweaking) in musicals and opera and might be easier. Then again maybe not. So do whatever seems best to you.

    Congradulations and best wishes


    PS: Two books that might be useful to you are Composing Music by William Russo which includes tips with respect to putting words to music some of which might be useful to you and Song Writing: A Complete Guide to the Craft by Stephen Citron which includes much that you will find overly basic and some that will be useful.

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