Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

9-12 > U.S. History

Hail to the Chief
1  2  3  4  5
  Activity II:Grades 6 - 12:
Listen carefully to the different versions of“Hail to the Chief”and answer the questions below. Travel back in time to reveal somehistorical background. For some examples of musical styles, take a peek at a list ofmusical examples. Now you’re ready to take the “Hail to the Chief” Musical Challenge!

1. What are the recognizable elements of the style of each version?
2. What is the protocol for using “Hail to the Chief”?
3. Describe an occasion when you heard a piece of ceremonial music performed live. Compare the atmosphere of that event to one in which pre-recorded music was played.
4. Judge for yourself. Which version do you like best?

“Hail to the Chief” Musical Challenge 6-8th, 9-12th
Writing music is similar to writing in any language. There are symbols, phrases and even punctuation.

Using musical graph paper and a pencil, compose your own variation of “Hail to the Chief.” Now that you’re aqcuainted with a few different musical styles, try a few of these options:
  • Write a harmony line, first just with bass notes, then fill in the chords.
  • Designate a backgroundrhythm(calypso, blues, rock, etc.) inMIDIformat. Improvise your own version of “Hail to the Chief” over this rhythm.
  • Create a 12-bar blues version with chords.
  • Write acanonwith the second voice at beat two or three or the first beat of the second measure. Try a “crab” canon (upper melody as given, lower melody matched note-for-note except upside down) or a mirror canon.
  • Improvise the original tune with “fill-in” notes where the melody skips steps, then try varying the rhythm of the melody against a straight beat.
  • Add adescantat the third or sixth interval above the melody.
  • Try a medievalmodalversion, without measure bars, and turn it into a “chant.” TryDorianmode first; it might be the easiest.
  • Try adding lyrics to your variation. You might wish to make it a rap or a ballad.
Follow-up questions:
1. How is your version of “Hail to the Chief” different from the original?
2. Which rhythms did you change?
3. Does your version still sound like “Hail to the Chief”?

Back to “Hail to the Chief” Main Page