Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 243 - WhiffenPoofs

The show the Sing Off is about to begin again. If you haven't seen it, it is a show completely dedicated to groups of people who sing a cappella.  And when you hear each group you wonder, how is this possible?  How is it that there is a beat without a drum, a violin part with out the instrument or a cowbell without a bell?  Truth is these groups are filled with talented singers beyond our imagination.

Last year the group that came in fourth then had a concert in Savannah.  Only a three hour drive.  That wasn't anything compared to the 6 hour drive the group had to travel to get to Savannah to perform.  They had performed in Tennessee the night before with the second place winner from Sing Off.  For only $15, we got to witness the magic of this kind of music that was priceless. 

The groups name is the Whiffenpoofs. You can read about them at their website listed below.  Here is the history of their group and name.

About the Whiffenpoofs

Every year, 14 senior Yale men are selected to be in the Whiffenpoofs, the world's oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the "Whiffs" began as a senior quartet that met for weekly concerts at Mory's Temple Bar, the famous Yale tavern. Today, the group has become one of Yale's most celebrated traditions.


More than 100 years ago, on a frosty January night in New Haven, Connecticut, five of the Yale Glee Club’s best singers convened at Mory’s Temple Bar to escape the cold. Louis Linder, the tavern’s barkeep and a music aficionado, welcomed them in, beginning an institution that survives to this day.
Of those original five singers, four were members of the Glee Club’s prestigious Varsity Quartet, a group that sang together regularly at various alumni events. Unwilling to restrict themselves to performances at public functions, the group began to meet on a weekly basis at Mory’s, where they improvised harmonies to the songs they loved so well. These weekly meetings soon became a hallowed tradition amongst the singers.

As their fame on campus grew, the quintet began their search for a name. Denton ‘Goat’ Fowler, tickled by a joke featuring a mythical dragonfish named the Whiffenpoof, suggested the name to his companions, who found the name an apt reflection of the atmosphere of levity that accompanied the group’s gatherings. The word quickly caught on with the group’s admirers, and the name stuck.
In the years since, each generation of Whiffenpoofs have taken up the mantle of their forebears. For more than one century of songsters, the name, the song, and the weekly date at Mory’s have remained inviolate traditions that continue to bind us together.

The Whiffenpoof Song

To the tables down at Mory's, to the place where Louis dwells
to the dear old Temple Bar we love so well
sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled, with their glasses raised on highand the magic of their singing casts its spell
The origins of The Whiffenpoof Song can be traced to a 1907 winter trip by the Yale Glee Club, when two of the group's founding members created a humorous adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling poem, "Gentleman Rankers." Upon the conclusion of the song's premiere at Mory's Temple Bar, the singers declared it their anthem, "to be sung at every meeting, reverently standing." In the hundred years since, each class of Whiffenpoofs has sung The Whiffenpoof Song at the end of every concert as a celebration of brotherhood and tradition. The song has been recorded by Rudy VallĂ©e, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, and countless others.

I'm not sure what the joke was and I tried to do some research, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that it is difficult to tell the sex of a dragon fish.  The male carries around the eggs in his mouth after the female lays them.  If anyone knows the actual joke, feel free to post it here.

The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief ~Jacques Ellul

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