The Rhythms and phonetic constructions
HIS-to-RY WILL re-CALL: GEORGE BUSH did NOTH-ing at ALL (we never said "Bureaucrats" -- we always picked a specific target, preferably one that scanned!) If you're doing the chant at a fast clip, the accent tended to be on the final syllables which would also rest on a higher note "His-to-RY Will re-CALL: GEORGE BUSH did Nothing at ALL" (dum-de-DEE, dum-de-DEE, DA! DA! da dum-dum-de-DEE!) -- I'm sure phoneticians have a better way of doing this! If you're breaking it into call response the call would be "History will recall" with the rest as the response.
"Gay! Straight! Black! White! -- Same Struggle! Same Fight!" Pretty straight forward. It's all 4/4 with everything as quarter notes, save "Strug-gle," which is two eighth notes. Equal emphasis on all the beats, especially the first four (G-S-B-W) -- I mean, that's the point, right? -- and no rests. Again, as call response, it's "Gay! Straight! Black! White!" with the rest as response.
"ACT UP!" beat "Fight Back!" beat "Fight AIDS!" The emphasis in the first two phrases falls on the final word, which goes up in pitch. In the final "Fight AIDS" both words are shouted with equal intensity and remain on the same middle pitch. If you're going to break this into call-response, the call is "ACT UP!" with the remaining phrases as response. For the record (and your general amusement), our diction tended to get really mushy towards the end of this chant, particularly towards of the end of a demonstration, which would lead to our finally chanting "ACT UP! Fight Back! Fried Eggs!"
As to the last chant, that's a fabrication of the author (or, to be fair, maybe they chanted that in California). I mean, it doesn't really have a workable rhythm, does it? Hmm, well, not to meddle with someone's copyright, but I'd suggest adapting it to a rhythm of one of our more popular (and fun) chants and run through it twice instead of three times to the following rhythm:
1 2 123 (beat) 12 123 - - WE! ARE! EV-ry WHERE! (beat) WE ARE ev-ry WHERE. It's sort of a conga rhythm. The original chant was "HEALTH! CARE! IS a RIGHT! HEALTH-CARE IS a RIGHT!"
response by CHANT DIVA Ron Goldberg
to an email enquiry about "authentic
rhythms" for a theater project.
Dear Act Up New York
I am part of a theatre group that will shortly be mounting a production of ELEGIES FOR ANGELS, PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS here in Cardiff in the UK.
As I am sure you will know, one scene in the show features versions of Act Up chants; we are not convinced that we have found the authentic rhythm of these chants yet. Is there anyone I can phone (either an authority in the UK or preferably someone in the US) to confirm the authentic rhythms?
The chants in question, running in sequence, are:
1 "History will recall - bureaucrats did nothing at all!"
2 "Gay, Straight, Black, White - same struggle, same fight!"
3 "Act Up! Fight back! Fight AIDS!"
4 "We are everywhere! We are everywhere! WE ARE EVERYWHERE!"