The Caissons Go Rolling Along The Official Song of the United States Army
A caisson to carry ammunition
CLICK HEREto listen to our assembly song of the week.
Featured Musicians of the Week:
Listening Example: "25 or 6 to 4"
This week we will be studying the band Chicago, one of the most popular rock bands of all time. Chicago is a jazz-rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. The group had many hit songs during the 1970’s and 80’s. Their success among American bands was second only to the Beach Boys. The band has been performing for over 40 years, and they have sold more than 100 million records.
The city of Chicago has a history of being one of the birthplaces of both jazz, and rhythm and blues. In 1967, seven Chicago musicians formed the group with one dream: to integrate all the musical diversity from their beloved city and weave a new sound, a rock and roll band with horns.The horn section includes trumpet, tenor saxophone and trombone, and sometimes alto sax or clarinet. This gives the band a full, blended sound like the big bands of the swing era, combined with modern rock.
LISTEN FOR . . . Our listening example today is the 1970 hit song “25 or 6 to 4”. People have often wondered what the song’s title means, but it’s really simple: it’s about a songwriter writing a song at 3:35 in the early morning hours. In other words, 25 or 26 minutes to 4:00 a.m. This song is a classic example of Chicago’s big rock band style.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
This listening-only recording has the best sound.
In this live performance, the song begins at 1:00 minute.
The official 1970 live video - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Listening Example: "Questions 67 and 68"
The band Chicago didn’t start out with that name. They first called themselves ChicagoTransit Authority, which is the name of the bus system in the city, because one of the band members rode the bus a lot. But the real Chicago Transit Authority started legal proceedings against the the group for using their name, so the band’s name was shortened to Chicago. Their first two albums were recorded under the name CTA.
Original Chicago Transit Authority
Today we will focus on the opening section of the song "Questions 67 and 68", another strange title! The title refers to the years 1967 and 1968, when songwriter Robert Lamm questioned himself about a relationship he was in at that time. Lamm and bass guitarist Peter Cetera sang the lead vocals.
Baritone singer and songwriter Robert Lamm
Tenor singer and bass guitarist Peter Cetera
In this song the horns are the star of the show. Remember, in jazz bands, horns are trumpet, trombone and saxophone. Chicago'strombone player James Pankow wrote the harmony for the horns using a music technique called modulation.
Music modulates when it starts off in one key area, such as a C scale, then shifts to another, such as a D or F scale. Modulating higher creates a sense of building excitement in the music. You hear this often in pop and country songs, just before the last verse and refrain. Modulating down to a lower key can convey a sense of settling down or reaching a destination point. Modulating also adds variety to the music.
Lead guitarist Terry Kath
Trombonist James Pankow and saxophonist Walter Parazaider
Trumpeter Lee Loughnane
LISTEN FOR . . . As you listen to this introduction, can you recognize when the different modulations occur? Just when you think the singing is about to begin, the band takes a different turn and keeps going, with lead guitarist Terry Kath rocking out in the background.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Best sound and listening example. The introduction lasts approximately 45 seconds.
Watch a live performance of the band.
Live performance of the romantic ballad, "Beginnings", featuring Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera.
Listening Example: "I'm a Man"
Original album cover
RHYTHM CREATIVITY In music class over the past several weeks, students at Weiner Elementary have been learning to create their own rhythm patterns and then perform different patterns at the same time by speaking and playing rhythm instruments.
LISTEN FOR . . . Listen to how Chicago features rhythm patterns to introduce the song "I'm a Man". Rhythm instruments include cowbell, tambourine, woodblock, hands clapping, and of course drums and rhythm guitar. Terry Kath plays lead guitar.
Listening Example: "I'm a Man" (minutes 4:50 - 6:12)
MATH IN MUSICAL FORM FORM is one of the five elements of music. Musical FORM is the plan by which a shortpiece of music is extended. Like an architect, the composer must consider the function of the form, and plan the music to be the most pleasing to the listener.
What is it about music that “moves” us? What makes it reach our emotions, or makes our heart beat a little faster at a certain place in the music, or even brings tears to our eyes? We’ll discover the answer to those questions in the paragraphs below.
Musicians use math to plan musical form. There is a math concept called the Golden Mean, or Golden Ratio that has fascinated mathematicians since the time of the ancient Pharaohs. It is a fixed value of 1.618 that is found repeatedly in nature. This constant is used to create art and structural forms that have pleasing proportions to the beholder or listener.
In music, this means that approximately 2/3 of the way through the music, it will reach an emotional “high point” or focal point. It’s where a melody begins to soar in the orchestra. It’s where Carrie Underwood hits the highest note in her song. It’s where a rock band really starts to rock out.
Even the song “Happy Birthday” uses this concept. The song is eight measures long, and the highest sounding note occurs in the fifth measure, when you sing the word “birthday” the third time. And eight measures divided by five measures equals 1.6. Hmmm.
Chicago used this concept in writing their music. In most videos and recordings of "I'm a Man", the band starts to showcase musicians just after the halfway mark and continue through the next minute or so before winding down again.
LISTEN FOR . . . This video is about eight minutes long. At about 4:30 minutes, the drummers begin a "dialogue" with each other on their drum sets that lasts until 6:12 minutes. The drummers and light show really get going! This is where the Golden Mean concept occurs in the music.
The rock band Chicago has been performing since 1967. Of the original seven founding members, four have remained with the band to this day: Walter Parazaider, Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Lee Loughnane [LOCK-nane]. That’s 48 years of performing with the same band! These four musicians have seen many changes throughout the history of the band.
In 1975, the band joined with the Beach Boys to record an album and go on tour performing together. They called this the “Beachago” Tour. The soft, blended vocal sound of the Beach Boys complimented Chicago’s sound in their song “Wishing You Were Here”.
Some band members left the group and other musicians took their places. Lead singer and bass guitarist Peter Cetera left to pursue a solo career and became a successful pop singer. In the 1980’s, the band saw the growth of music videos on MTV. During the 80’s and 90’s, there were changes in the group’s musical style, where the importance of the horn section was diminished in favor of romantic ballads.
Chicago’s logo was inspired by that of Coca-Cola and sports teams. The group’s philosophy is reflected in the artwork of their album covers. Rather than focus on individual identities of the band members, they chose to focus on the group’s sound as a whole. They also wanted to reflect the city where all but one were born and bred and educated. Most of their albums simply have the band’s name on the cover with a Roman numeral.
Different album covers feature images such as city rooftops, a huge stone, an embroidered patch, a thumbprint, a mosaic of the city’s history, and a board representing the Chicago stockyards and the great Chicago fire. In 2013, Chicago’s album artwork was featured in a New York art museum exhibit.
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Chicago are the guys wearing tuxedos. The Beach Boys are wearing the sailor coats.
Watch an interview with Chicago and the Beach Boys about their "Beachago" tour together. 2:19 minutes.
Weiner Elementary School, 313 N. Garfield St., Weiner, AR 72479 870-684-2252(o) 870-684-2684(f) (We are not responsible for any content on any page linked from our page)