SMWC Professor Reinvents an Indiana Classic

February 4th, 2013 | SMWC

John McIntyre, D.M.A.

By Lisa Luper, communications intern

How long does it take to compose a song? For John McIntyre, D.M.A., associate professor of music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, two weeks is plenty of time.  McIntyre was asked by James Chesterson, president of the Terre Haute Community Band (THCB) last spring to compose a new arrangement of “Back Home Again in Indiana” for a special “Year of the River” performance, which took place January 27, 2013, at Indiana State University. 

McIntyre started working on the song right after Christmas on the flight to and from his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, for the holidays. It was finished in time for the THCB’s first band practice on January 9, 2013. 

When asked how he wrote such a complicated piece so quickly, McIntyre smiled. “I don’t usually get writer’s block,” he said.  

McIntyre began by listening to different arrangements of the song, which was published by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley in 1917 and has been an Indiana favorite since. He decided how he wanted his version to sound and put it together with parts for brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The arrangement begins with the verse, which is often omitted.. Beginning with a straightforward, patriotic feel, it transitions to a lighter, swing style, then shifts again to a big band style. 

Since the song is in the public domain, McIntyre is legally able to publish it. He would like to begin by publishing the score, but hopes to eventually record it with a band. 

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