Chronicles of Harry - A thing to do when I actually have time: Look up sources of national anthems

2014 Apr 16

02:24:00 - A thing to do when I actually have time: Look up sources of national anthems

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In a few minutes, I'll get back to work. But first...

So I only just learned today that -- like "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- "Hatikvah" is also a combination of a pre-existing poem and an unrelated old tune. Now, admittedly, the Star-Spangled Banner just directly copies both its sources, whereas Hatikvah modifies things a bit more. (The tune is a big difference if you compare directly to "La Mantovana"; less so if you compare to "Carul cu boi".)

Still, it struck me as an interesting coincidence. Is this a common thing among national anthems? I mean, I could easily believe that adapting them from preexisting poems is, but also using unrelated existing melodies? That would be a bit more surprising.

Well, if I had the time, I'd start going down Wikipedia's list of national anthems and counting. But I don't right now, so I'm just going to note this coincidence as one to follow up on later. Or let someone else count.



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Date:2014 Apr 16 17:39:44 (UTC)
Many national anthems weren't originally created with the intention of being a national anthem; a lot of them have more organic origins, and become adopted by politicians under a banner of "we like this poem a lot and it's a popular drinking song among our most fervent nationalists already". They're also subject to the ever-changing whims of politics (and often get rewritten during upheavals), and many contain stanzas that are uncomfortable to remember now (like the old bit in "God Save the King/Queen" about "rebellious Scots to crush"). "La Marseillaise" dates back to the French Revolution (as is apparent from its lyrics), and one need look no further than the Russian anthem to see how much trouble they can cause. You even see a sort of "musical nationalism" sometimes in other music; for example, "La Marseillaise" gets directly quoted in the 1812 Overture, and "Deuschland über Alles" is prominently used as a theme for the evil Nazi officers in the film Casablanca.

(I've made a minor study of this myself, though nothing so formal as reading through the list on Wikipedia. :))
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[User Picture]
Date:2014 Apr 16 19:48:12 (UTC)
Certainly; but it's less "organic origins" I'm looking for here and more the specific combination of "existing lyrics + unrelated tune". Which is distinct not only from "Let's write a song with words", but also from "Here's a poem, let's set it to music" and "Here's a tune, let's write some words for it." Looking things up, it seems La Marseillaise was written as one piece, words and music both; the origins of "God Save the Queen" are murkier, but seems like it might be "Here's a tune, let's write some words for it." (In this case the words consist largely of pre-existing phrases, but it doesn't seem to be a pre-existing poem.)

The trouble with the Russian anthem is amusing. I had no idea they'd gone back to the tune for the Soviet anthem. 14 years ago, that was? Huh.
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