Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Wisconsin Turns 100 years old


If Wisconsin's essence were distilled to one four-note riff, it would be this: D, C-sharp, E, D.
Whether played on trumpets or pianos, sung by sopranos or tenors, thumped from synthesizers or shouted by rappers, those four musical notes are encoded into Wisconsin's DNA.
The notes, as well as the rest of the ditty that would become not just the Badger fight song but Wisconsin's state song, were first performed 100 years ago Tuesday when a glee club warbled "On, Wisconsin!" for the first time in practice followed by the first known public performance at a pep rally the next day.
A few days later, on Nov. 13, 1909, the University of Wisconsin band played the tune during a football game at Camp Randall - a 34-6 drubbing by the University of Minnesota.
"One of the things that makes it so extremely popular - the first four notes are so recognizable it almost makes a statement from the first time you hear it. It says everything in the first four notes," said Mike Leckrone.
Leckrone should know. As director of the UW Marching Band since 1969, Leckrone has conducted the song many times in many different arrangements, including swing, funk, Latin and a James Brown-like version. When asked to hazard a guess of just how often, he said "it boggles my mind."
It is great to see the tradition continue in Madison. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!