The first time many people hear the alma mater, "Raise Songs to Bowdoin," it's usually at an awkward orientation event. For a few, it's in a bar with a crowd of men's lacrosse alums who know the "songs" as "sons." At this year's capital campaign launch, Assistant Professor of Music Vineet Shende will give the Bowdoin community new memories of the alma mater.

Since the summer, Shende has worked on composing the music for the capital campaign. These compositions include the music in the lobby and the processional, the music played under the videos, and a new arrangement of the alma mater with Bowdoin's student musical talent. The arrangement is accompanied by a music video featuring those students.

"This song took time and the talents of a lot of people," said Alison Bennie, editor of the Bowdoin Magazine, who is assisting with the launch. "People always say how they find it moving that Bowdoin feels the same in spite of things that have changed, and the song reflects that."

Shende created variations of several songs that are associated with Bowdoin, yet he said that the variations alma mater comprise about two-thirds of the songs heard during the launch. Those changes came through key changes, an inverted melody, classical Bach harmonies, and jazzed-up piano. In one version, there is even a banjo.

"The alma mater is a typical New England song, and I want this to reflect where the campus is today and where it's moving," Shende said. "It reflects the diversity of the student body through the arrangements."

Considering the amount of work that Shende has put into the composition, Bennie said, "It's staggering to people who don't compose."

Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood said that these arrangements keep the nostalgia of the alma mater, but the twists make it fresh for those who will hear it at the launch.

"There's a handful of musical pieces identified with the College, and we need to keep those near and dear songs but not make it monotonous," he said.

"The musical tradition has really been brought back in the last 10 years," Hood continued. "Now there are first years singing it at events, and for older alumni, it's a huge part of their time here. This version's not intended to replace anything, but it's for fun."

Current students involved in the rhythm and blues/rap/gospel arrangement of the alma mater include members of the Meddiebempsters and Miscellania, Shawn Stewart '08, and Meddies Musical Director Jeff Friedlander '08. Shende contacted these students because of their previous musical projects with him or groups at the College, or from recommendations by other students.

Wellesley Wilson '08 of Miscellania sings the song's lead part.

"Professor Shende was so patient, laid back, and extremely easy to work and get along with," she said. "Any time he was not happy with a take, or I was not happy with it, we redid it. Or, if I had some ideas about how I should sing a particular line, he was so open to changing things around."

Wilson found filming the music video interesting, since the locations varied from the top of the lion in front of the Walker Art Museum to the third floor stacks of Hubbard Hall.

Stewart wrote the rap that he performs in the song, which Wilson said gave "a really solid idea of the rhythm of the song changing. The bottom line is I like Shawn's part."

In regards to the song, Stewart said, "It has various kinds of world music integrated into one song, so from the beginning to the end, the listener is exposed to varying types of music."

Friedlander, who got the Meddies involved as the male choral section and also contributed to the gospel solos, called the arrangement a "Shendelic amalgamation of rock, soul, funk, and polar bear."

Wilson, Stewart, and Friedlander are all attending the capital campaign launch on Friday in Boston to see the fruits of their and Shende's labors.

As for after the launch, Bennie and Hood are still searching for the best way to make the arrangements and video available to the Bowdoin community. Possibilities are the Bowdoin podcasts or the new iTunes U page.

No matter when or where alumni and students hear this new arrangement of "Raise Songs to Bowdoin," Friedlander said, "I can assure you that James Bowdoin's dancing in his grave as we speak."