Properly singing the Star Spangled Banner

Discussion in 'Our National Anthem' started by Proud Mother, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Proud Mother

    Proud Mother New Member

    My daughter, who is a high school senior, sings the National Anthem at our basketball games frequently. She is considering singing it a competition. Our question was if it was appropriate to sing the Star Spangled Banner without an American Flag in view.
    Thank you
    Beth
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, Beth!

    Our question was if it was appropriate to sing the Star Spangled Banner without an American Flag in view.

    Yes, it's perfectly fine to do so. In fact, USC Title 36 even says:

    "During a redition of the national anthem . . . when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed."

    Does your daughter plan to sing only the first verse, or more than one? I always find the opening phrases of the 4th verse to be particularly moving:

    "Oh thus be it ever
    when free men shall stand
    between their loved homes
    and the war's desolation."

    Anyway, I hope she aces the competition . . . Let us know!

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. Stuff4Toys

    Stuff4Toys Member

    I would say that is is appropriate anytime and anywhere it can be sung with a quality voice, respect and love for our God & Nation.

    JOhn ><>
     
  4. aye just so long as the tune and rhythm isnt messed about with very much!! its a great song as it is without some fools coming along and changing it up!
     
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    its a great song as it is

    We'll try not to think about who fired those bombs that were bursting in air! (-;

    Peter Ansoff
     
  6. Proud Mother

    Proud Mother New Member

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Beth
     
  7. jgjoyce

    jgjoyce New Member

    Question: USC Title 36 states:
    (1) when the flag is displayed -
    (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at
    attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;

    Would that include the singer? Also, I know there is some controversy about the pitch of the song -- I'm told it was written in G and should always be sung in the original pitch. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?
     
  8. no - the singer band/ perfermormers do not have to look at the flag - as they are performing - they also have no requirement to place their hand over their heart.

    i myself have nevere heard such controversy over the pitch of it.

    i guess marching bands would choose G because theres only one sharp on the key of G - F so its not too hard to play

    the melody of the Star Spangled Banner is actually taken from an old English drinking song.
    i find this to be slightly ironic!!
    along with the fact that the American flag flown at Fort McHenry- which inspired the origional Star Spangled Banner poem- was made out of English woolen bunting!
     
  9. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I know there is some controversy about the pitch of the song -- I'm told it was written in G and should always be sung in the original pitch.

    Interesting -- I've never heard of a controversy about what key the SSB is played in. I assume that it would depend in part on the composition of the band or orchestra.

    i guess marching bands would choose G because theres only one sharp on the key of G - F so its not too hard to play

    A marching band would not play the SSB (at least, not while marching), because it is not written in march time. It's actually a waltz.

    Peter A.
     
  10. ahhh picky picky - i meant like a brass band lol.
     
  11. RonnieLRQ

    RonnieLRQ New Member

    Hey!

    Hey everyone,

    Been reading the forum for a while just wanted to introduce myself - what's up?
     
  12. johnarguello

    johnarguello New Member

    I've got to take exception with that. Not all pieces of music in 3/4 time are waltzes. This song was never meant to be danced to (drinking song, remember?) so you can't really call it a waltz. But it IS in 3/4 time. That being said, there ARE marches in 3/4 time as well.
     
  13. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, John -- welcome!

    Not all pieces of music in 3/4 time are waltzes.

    True. 3/4 is sometimes informally referred to as "waltz time," and that's what I had in mind. I should have been more specific.

    This song was never meant to be danced to (drinking song, remember?) so you can't really call it a waltz. But it IS in 3/4 time.

    For what it's worth, the original score for "To Anacreon in Heaven" (which was the music that Key adapted for the SSB) was written in 6/4.

    That being said, there ARE marches in 3/4 time as well.

    I'm certainly no expert on this, but my understanding is that the definition of a march is that the piece can, at least theoretically, be marched to. One of the basic requirements of marching in step is that the same foot comes down at the beginning of each measure (important when executing formation turning maneuvers, for example). This would mean that you need an even number of beats per measure. There are lots of marches in 6/8 ("King Cotton" is one of my personal favorites) but I can't see how a march in 3/4 would work -- it would not be a march, by definition. Could you share some examples?

    Again, welcome to the forum!

    Peter Ansoff
     
  14. johnarguello

    johnarguello New Member

    By definition, huh? From Merriam webster's online Dictionary:
    1: a musical composition that is usually in duple or quadruple time with a strongly accentuated beat and that is designed or suitable to accompany marching

    That word "usually" gives me some wiggle room. I'm writing a paper right now and I will be for the next two days with all of my free time but how about I point you in the direction of Ernest Bloch, one or two marches in 3/8? By definition, the same foot doesn't have to come down at the beginning of each measure in that sense. If I'm wrong, at least this was an interesting discussion. :)
     
  15. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    From Merriam webster's online Dictionary: 1: a musical composition that is usually in duple or quadruple time with a strongly accentuated beat and that is designed or suitable to accompany marching

    Well, my statement was "the definition of a march is that the piece can, at least theoretically, be marched to" which is pretty much the same thing. However, I think that my statement was slightly more accurate than Webster's, because some marches are obviously *not* "designed or suitable to accompany marching." (E.g., the tempo is too fast).

    By definition, the same foot doesn't have to come down at the beginning of each measure in that sense.

    Well . . . my experience from marching in bands and in the military is that it does, because of the way turning movements are executed. For example, when executing a column turn (where each person in the column turns as the column passes a given point), each marcher has to start the turn on the same foot -- otherwise there would need to be two different sets of turning techniques, and you'd need to decide which one to use depending on where in the measure you were when you reached the turn (which, from my experience, would not be at all practical).

    I guess the really interesting question, though, is: if a 3/8 piece like Bloch's is considered to be a march, then just about *any* piece could potentially be "suitable to accompany marching." In that case, what distinguishes a march from a "non-march"?

    An interesting discussion, indeed!

    Peter Ansoff
     
  16. johnarguello

    johnarguello New Member

    I'll work on researching that 3/8 march for you some more (going away this weekend), but you're right. That definition is too broad. That's why Groves decided to make a musical dictionary. I don't own one myself . . . maybe I should invest? There isn't an online one anymore either, at least not free. Hindemith might have written a 1/8 march . . . if we go that route, though, check out Charles Ives' "'Country Band' March." It changes time signatures constantly because it's supposed to approximate what it would sound like if two bands, playing different music, marched towards each other and then kept going (away from each other). Is the word "march" in the title enough to justify it as a march? If so, that one would be a nightmare to program.

    Cheers!:cool:
     
  17. Holly7

    Holly7 New Member

    Hi - new to the forum/group & have been looking ALL over for the proper etiquette of the National Anthem . . . One asked about dancing to the Star Bangle Banner - which I would think is a big fat NO . . . MY question would be, is it ok to MARCH to it??? Our local high school band is marching for the FIRST time on the 4th & one of the kids decided it would be ok to put our National Anthem on their play list! I for one am offended - HELP!!!
     
  18. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, Holly7 -- welcome to the forum!

    From a protocol standpoint, I can't see anything wrong with marching to the national anthem. However, as pointed out earlier in this thread, there is a practical problem involved. The Star-Spangled Banner is usually scored in 3/4 time, which means that it has an odd number of beats per measure. This would make it very difficult to march to, especially if the band has to execute any turning movements during the performance.

    If the program could be arranged so that the band stops in front of the reviewing stand and plays the national anthem while standing still, that might satisfy all concerned.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  19. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    .
    Hello, Holly7 ! :D

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !


    Having been a professional entertainer for many years, I recommend that the band NOT play the National Anthem while MARCHING in the parade. Have them DELETE it from their marching segments "Play List". :eek:

    If they are of the collective mind-set that they would still like to play the National Anthem anyway, have them CLEAR IT with the Parade's Organizers FIRST.

    If the organizers are "OK" with it, then work out an agreement as to when and where it would be best for the band to stand still, at attention, and play it!


    Thank You for bringing your Flag-related questions to our Forums !


    Robin Hickman
    .
     

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