Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh, say can you see . . . ?

As a pacifist, I think that the U.S. national anthem is, of course, pretty inappropriate with all its "bombs bursting in air" etc. (Can you imagine it being sung at a baseball game in Nagasaki?) But as a musician, I'm even more against it. This anthem has just got to go.

First of all, the vocal range that it covers is just phenomenal. Few hymns require more than an octave range to sing, yet our anthem requires an an octave and a fifth. It's melody reminds me of clothes you see at a fashion show; creative, but you never see anyone actually wearing those monstrosities. Similarly, you never hear anyone singing the entire thing unless you just happen to be seated next to Beverly Sills at a Cubs game.

Yes, one has to have some pretty advanced vocal training to get through the entire thing and hit all the notes. I can almost guarantee that the female hammer-thrower atop the winner's stand at the Olympics isn't managing it very well. . .

Back to the text. Have you ever noticed that the entire song is one big question?? It begins with the interrogative, "Oh say, can you see . . ."
and ends with ". . . and the home of the brave?"
Our entire anthem consists of a big-ol' long question. Now, I really think any nation's anthem should be a statement and not a question. Pretty mimsey if you ask me. . . .

Can't we change it to that "amber waves of grain" thing?


At 4:48 PM , Blogger MDB said...

Referring to your comment about being in Nagasaki:
I was in Okinawa, though 700 miles removed from the Japanese mainland, it of course populated by Japanese and Okinawans and witness to one of the bloodiest battles fo WWII. I was standing next to our Japanese bus driver yelling my squad leaders name when it occurred to me that when you understand only a little bit of English this name might stand out to a Japanese person. You see, I was screaming Newcomb at the top of my lungs. Or if pronounced with my charming Indiana accent to a Japanese person would probably sound like I was shouting "Nuke 'em." After yelling this three or four times I realized why the driver was staring at me and simply walked back to my seat and sat down.


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