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There are simply no words (yet) to describe this ‘Triumph’
Cal Band launches competition for lyrics to new fight song

| 16 September 2004


The drums will pound, the brass will bleat, and the xylophone will, um, xylo, when the competition to match lyrics to the melody of Cal’s newest fight song has been judged. (Michael Burns photo)
It’s got rhythm. It’s got music. Who could ask for anything more?

The Cal Band, evidently. The rollicking, high-energy marching band is launching a competition to come up with words to the latest Cal song, “California Triumph.”

Hirokazu Hiraiwa, a grad student in civil engineering, wrote the composition over the summer, winning a national competition to come up with a new fight song to add to the band’s repertoire. Hiraiwa, who had never composed a song before, said he was completely surprised that he beat out 15 other competitors from all over the United States.

“I didn’t even decide to enter the competition until five days before the deadline. I was just bored over the summer,” joked Hiraiwa, who played trombone in the Cal Band as an undergrad. “I don’t know if it’s just beginner’s luck or what.”

It’s the first new Cal fight song since 1978. A restless drum major last year prompted the search for a new song when he suggested the band get some fresh material, said campus Director of Bands Robert Calonico, adding, “We all thought it was a great idea.”

The song — sans lyrics — made its public debut on Saturday, Sept. 11, when the Golden Bears played New Mexico State in Berkeley (and won, 41-14). The band literally passed the baton to Hiraiwa, who stepped down from his seat in the bleachers to conduct the song.

The composition was selected in a double-blind competition in which members of the Cal Band played all eligible submissions for the band’s executive committee and an alumni panel. Neither the band nor the committee members knew the identities of the composers.

“We were all very happy when we found out it was Hiro,” Calonico said. “He’s a terrific musician, and we’re really proud of him.”

But don’t expect Hiraiwa to try his hand at writing the lyrics to his own song. “It’s not really something I want to do, or could do,” he said. “I’m not really lyrically inclined.”

Once lyrics have been decided upon, the band plans to have the complete “California Triumph” ready to play by January.

“I’m interested to find out what rhymes with ‘umph,’” laughed Calonico.

An audio file of “California Triumph” has been posted on the band’s website (www.calband.berkeley.edu/calband/media/triumph.html). Lyrics should be sent by mail to University of California Marching Band, 72 Cesar Chavez Student Center, Berkeley, CA 94720-4280.