School song ranks 11th nationwide

Tess Langfus

Dynamic and energizing, the University’s school song retained its status as one of the country’s top 15 college fight songs, said William Studwell and Bruce Schueneman, co-authors of the College Fight Songs trilogy.
Studwell ranked the “Minnesota Rouser” as number 11 in both “College Fight Songs: An Annotated Anthology” (1998) and “College Fight Songs 2” to be published in 2000, declaring it as “one of the more active of college songs.”
The third part of the trilogy, “College Fight Songs 3,” is scheduled for publication in 2005.
“The ‘Minnesota Rouser’ has the dynamism of good melody,” Studwell said, who had the idea to review and rate the fight songs. “It’s what makes it great. The melody has to be good; if it’s not good melody, then very few songs will survive.”
The Rouser owes its origin to a 1909 contest sponsored by The Minnesota Daily and the Minneapolis Tribune. The song, “Minnesota, Hats Off To Thee” by Floyd M. Hutsell, beat 92 other entries.
Hutsell’s song, later renamed the “Minnesota Rouser,” eventually dropped the first verse, according to a publication put out by the Band Alumni Society.
The Rouser’s debut was an instant success during the Minnesota vs. Harvard football game in December 1909. A 1909 issue of the Minnesota Alumni Weekly described the Rouser as making its rounds of the University’s fraternity houses and “creating a great deal of enthusiasm.”
Now over 90 years old, the “Minnesota Rouser” still energizes University football fans.
“It’s a great school song,” said Jerry Luckhardt, band director at the University. “It has a lot of pep. It has a lot of energy to it. Even if you don’t know the words, it makes you want to sing.”
Whether a team plays on its own turf or is in rival territory, a college fight song gives the players encouragement and support of its fans.
“There’s certainly an emotional connection between how well a football team performs and how they feel,” Luckhardt said. “I think the way the school song and the crowd can make a team feel does have an impact on how they perform.”

Football breeds song reviews
Studwell’s interest in fight songs began when he attended college football games as a freshman in 1956 at the University of Connecticut.
“I went to a University of Connecticut football game and they were playing college fight songs,” Studwell said. “I was able to identify all but one song by the context. So I got very interested, and then I started writing on band stuff in the ’80s.”
Now the principal cataloger at the Northern Illinois University library, Studwell has been rating college fight songs since 1990.
Studwell, an expert on college fight songs and Christmas carols according to Who’s Who in America, has published 38 books and more than 350 articles on all genres of music, as well as on library science.
“He has incredible energy,” said Schueneman. “He’s quite an impresario. We’ve worked a lot in the last few years, but he’s worked with other people to produce things and does things on his own. It’s just a steady stream.”
Schueneman, head of the systems department at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville library and a violinist, transcribes the music scores for the trilogy. The two initially began working together in 1993 when Schueneman submitted an article to Studwell, then editor of the Music Reference Services Quarterly.
Although they have co-authored other articles and books on music culture and history, the two have never actually met, working only by telephone and fax.
“He’s great to work with,” Schueneman said. “I’d like to meet him sometime.”
“This is a hobby,” Studwell said. “I just have a natural gift for music. If you would start talking about a song or a classical piece I hadn’t heard for years, I would probably start remembering it.”
With his background in history and library science, Studwell writes books on the cultural history of music and on indexing different music genres.
“It’s just fun seeing the books come out. I’m not going into areas which everybody else is doing,” he said. “You’d say I’m unconventional in some ways.”

From simple to complex
The youngest of seven children in a household in which education was not prioritized, Studwell was not encouraged by his father to attend college. His father, having only finished the fourth or sixth grade –“depending on which sister you talked to,” he said — wanted him to settle into the familiar life of a job, a house and marriage. Studwell credits his mother with promoting his education.
“She was an intelligent woman and she pushed me,” Studwell said. “She gave me my number-one impetus to go to college.”
As head cataloger at the Northern Illinois University library, Studwell is responsible for indexing the more difficult books that come through the system. Some of these books are from different countries, requiring Studwell to be proficient in reading over 30 languages.
“I’m very good at math and languages and music. They are all very similar,” Studwell said.
His research on college fight songs for the trilogy will cover 320 songs from 173 institutions. Three other University of Minnesota songs will be included in “College Fight Songs 3,” Studwell said, including “On Minnesota,” “The Gopher M” and “Minnesota Fight Song,” — all of which, he said, are “decent” songs. But the “Minnesota Rouser,” said Studwell, “is a near classic, or perhaps great, song.”