anthem coming soon to a school near you
music for TV fave finally available
33 years later
The punchy opening notes used to be
the musical command to throw on a ratty Leafs jersey, grab a light beer and
settle in for a night with Don Cherry.
But the staccato "dun-da-dun-da-dun"
rhythm of the Hockey Night In Canada Theme is poised to become the
missing link between band teachers and bottles of Aspirin.
Sheet music for the popular piece -
long considered Canada's second national anthem - finally hit the shelves of
music stores in late August with an arrangement that includes everything from
the piccolo to the timpani.
"You know, we're not dealing
with a Beatles record, but we are selling hundreds - which is just unheard
of," said John Ciccone, president of Copyright Music & Visuals. "I
guess people had been asking for it for decades, so they're flying out the
In fact, sheet music for the song is
out-selling the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Christina Aguilera. Prices range
from $5.95 for the simple piano version to $74 for the 79 parts of the senior
Vivian Hingsberg, band music product
specialist at St. John's Music stores, said band leaders are so gaga over it,
they often forget to flip open the flashy red cover to determine whether it's
something their latest crop of prodigies can tackle.
"I've been working in the store
for five years and people have been asking for it since the first day I
started," Hingsberg said.
"I think we've sold more of this
than any other piece of music for bands," she added. "I think it's
going to be a staple for any band library that teachers can pull out year after
year and use it with their classes."
Hingsberg estimates the chain's seven
stores have sold more than 100 copies of the easy version of the arrangement and
more than 40 of the more advanced sheet music.
An old band favourite like Holst's First
Suite would normally sell about 45 copies in a year.
"We've already doubled that and
it just keeps going," she said.
Penned by Vancouver native Dolores
Claman, who is also responsible for the "Ontari-ari-o" ditty for Expo
'67, the beloved theme song has become a sort of call to arms for a country
obsessed with the rock 'em, sock 'em game of hockey.
"She's my Betsy Ross,"
Ciccone laughs. "She knitted our Canadian flag with this."
As a jingle writer in Toronto during
the 1960s, she was asked to write a theme song that married a cocky college
fighting song with the spirit of the television show. Claman, who has since
moved to England, had never attended a hockey game when she sat down to write
the song that would become synonymous with the sport.
Getting the song onto sheet music was
always on Claman's "to-do" list, but it took 33 years and the musical
talents of Howard Cable, one of Canada's foremost composers, to transform it
into a potential band favourite.
(Cable, coincidentally, is the
grandfather of Buffalo Sabres centre Doug Gilmour, former captain of the Leafs.)
The Hockey Night In Canada Theme
song is just one in a long line of tributes to Canada's favourite game,
including 1966's Clear The Track, Here Comes Shack, Stompin' Tom Connors'
1973 hit, The Hockey Song, Tommy Hunter's Pandemonium and The
Ballad Of Wendel Clark.
But it's the only hockey-related song
that may soon fill the staid halls of the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Kara Horne, manager of materials
development for the school, said they're temporarily adding the song to a list
of contemporary songs students may choose to play for their Grade 4 or Grade 7
She expects girls and especially boys
will soon push its popularity past Darth Vader's dark, brooding anthem, beating
out the Batman theme and the jazzy anthem of Charlie Brown.
The tricky syncopation makes it a
kind of technical study, akin to the kind of practice that involves hours and
hours in the laneway with a bucket of pucks and a well-padded goalie.
But music teachers eschew the notion
hearing a sixth grader bang out a slightly-out-of-tune version of the tune over
and over again will produce some sort of adverse Pavlovian-type response
to the actual opening intro.
"Well, I would use the Fur
Elise analogy: you've probably heard it eight billion times, but people are
still very happy to learn to play it," said Petris Zarins, a piano teacher
at the Royal Conservatory of Music and a long-suffering Habs fan.
"If anything, it may even
increase its popularity among non-hockey fans. It really is a perky, jazzy