Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's an Anthem, not a lovesong!

Am I alone in being repulsed by the trashing The Star Spangled Banner receives on a nearly daily basis at sporting and other events across the nation? I am referring to the a'capella crooning of the anthem by various vocalists, some of obvious talent, virtually all with no apparent understanding that a national anthem is not a love song.

Here is how it should be presented followed by how it typically is:

Tempo - With gusto and a little pomp, it is usually performed too slowly, often downright plodding and lethargic.
Time - 3/4 maestoso waltz, apparently unknown and certainly unfelt by most singers. Perhaps they don't know that maestoso means 'majestically', not lovingly.
Tune - Difficult, but not impossible. Stick to the score, there is no need to add notes, cuts, slides, overlong sustains, nor improbable highs.
Lyrics - Difficult, but every syllable can be clearly enunciated. Most seem to get right at least the first line or two and many actually get through the entire first verse, however none know any verse beyond that.
Listenability - Stirring and moving when performed correctly, mostly repellent when not.

It seems to me that these horrific versions of the national anthem have only appeared in the last decade or two. Those who croon it seem to be saying not "This is an important symbol of our nation", but rather "Listen to me, I'm doing cool stuff here, it's all about me." Instead of honoring the flag and the nation it symbolizes, they seem to be narcissistically glorifying themselves. Instead of showing respect, if not admiration, for their country's history, heroes, heritage, and symbols, they seem to be doing the exact opposite.

Here is my suggestion to anyone who wishes to publicly sing the national anthem. It's about the flag of the United States of America, the red, white, and blue symbol of the nation it was written to honor. It isn't about you. Neither you, nor your personality, nor your opinions, nor your personal version, nor your special vocalizations, nor your ideosyncracies, are of any importance in rendering the national anthem. So please! Stop the emotional gushing of something you don't feel anyway. In fact, if you did feel it you would stick to the score which, by the way, sounds like this when played correctly, in this instance by the United States Marine Band.

It's an anthem, not a love song!

Nuda Veritas

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