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mygif

When you’re done with these, you should cross-reference them with the grades josh parsons gave all the flags, helpfully he also used a 100-point scale.

http://www.otago.ac.nz/philosophy/Staff/JoshParsons/flags/intro.html

It would be interesting to see a 2D plot of flag score vs. anthem score.

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As a Finn, I approve. 😀

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Tornado Ninja Fan said on July 13th, 2010 at 8:53 am

I have to say, you have taken a particularyl nice (orchestral?) version of the German hymn.

And now I am off to find out WHEN they started playing national anthems.

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ApathyMonger said on July 13th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Nobody in Ireland actually calls the country Eire; it’s generally a name used by British people who think it’s what we call Ireland.

I’ve also never heard the English translation of the anthem out load, as it’s always the Irish version that gets sung. I’m guessing the majority of people here don’t have a clue what it’s about.

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ApathyMonger said on July 13th, 2010 at 9:16 am

That should of course say “out loud”.

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Okay, Israel’s anthem is freaking me out, because its opening is VERY similar to a movement from some really famous orchestral piece, and now it’s going to bug me all day until I can get home and try to hunt for it. (Is it from Dvorak? Something by Mendelssohn? aargh.)

Oh duh, okay, THANK YOU. (Looking up who wrote it.) Apparently it dates from 1888, and the guy who wrote it said that he took the melody from an unidentified Moldavian folksong, which is probably also the source of Smetana’s “The Moldau”, which is the piece I am thinking of.

Here is an example of its main theme (kind of awesomely used in a Czech tv commercial for Pilsner Urquell beer): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8QhaBQ7Dbg

Otherwise… I don’t want to be mean, honestly, but… I’m a little disappointed by Ireland’s and Japan’s anthems. Dignified or stirring, sure, but they just sound kind of generically Western. I guess I don’t understand why countries that have distinctive musical traditions don’t just put those right out there in their anthems.

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@Holly- I remember hearing the Moldavian folksong story, but I always thought it was about the melody for “Jerusalem of Gold” (song from the 1960’s).
Also, that beer commercial is brilliant.
I’ve always felt Israel’s anthem gives off a “solemn pride” vibe… but that’s probably what everyone thinks about their country’s anthem…which is why it’s interesting to hear an objective party’s opinion on all of them. How did you come up with this, anyway?

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Katherine Farmar said on July 13th, 2010 at 11:38 am

I’m a little disappointed by Ireland’s and Japan’s anthems. Dignified or stirring, sure, but they just sound kind of generically Western. I guess I don’t understand why countries that have distinctive musical traditions don’t just put those right out there in their anthems.

Until 1926 (so, for about four years) the national anthem of Ireland was God Save Ireland. Musically, it’s much more distinctive and much more Irish, but it’s not very… anthemic.

Also, while I’m here: the most common Irish translation of the lyrics begins “Sinne fianna fáil…” i.e. “we are soldiers of destiny”, which sounds great until you realise that one of our major political parties is also called “Fianna Fáil”. (They didn’t name themselves after the line from the anthem; when the party was formed, it was usually sung in English.) So the national anthem kind of comes across as propaganda for that one party, which is nice for them. Some people prefer the translation “Sinne laochra fáil”, which means much the same thing without the party-political slant. But as far as I can tell, it hasn’t caught on.

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I think Georgia would have been better off with “Georgia on My Mind.”

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Kid Kyoto said on July 13th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

“Dignified or stirring, sure, but they just sound kind of generically Western. I guess I don’t understand why countries that have distinctive musical traditions don’t just put those right out there in their anthems.”

I think countries try to hew to a common set of instruments and notes. Sure it’s fine to have a national anthem that uses pipes of pan, taiko drums and electric guitars as long as you’re only playing it at home. But when the Prime Minister/King/Sheik/Shogun/girl’s volleyball team goes overseas other people have to play it too.

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“Kimi go ya” (Japanese anthem) usually sounds much more Japanese than that.

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I mean “Kimi ga yo.”

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Andrew Jeanes said on July 13th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

It’s too bad about Georgia’s national anthem, because Georgian music is pretty awesome, generally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EduaIfdYw2s&NR=1

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lance lunchmeat said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:00 am

Godzilla’s anthem is much better.

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lance lunchmeat said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:04 am

Like, for real. They need to adopt it as their official anthem. It’s more recognizable.

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Dear MGK,

When you get to Malaysia, please do the slow and stately-sounding one. If you find a clip that’s all uptempo and march-y, that’s the wrong one.

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@Holly —

I can’t help pointing out that Ireland is very very Western, and doesn’t have that unique a musical tradition: Irish folk isn’t that different from Scottish, or general British or European.

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Carlos Futino said on July 14th, 2010 at 8:02 am

Great series of posts.
I’m looking forward to Slovenia and Slovakia. It’s been a running joke in Brazil during the World Cup that people kept confusing them.

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luchtherder said on July 14th, 2010 at 8:58 am

Iran should bring back Ey Iran. By far the better anthem and the lyrics are great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBr7IUiWQG0

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@Kid Kyoto — you make a good point, about versatility. But it’s not impossible to have a piece of music that is distinctive to a culture/area *and* also able to be orchestrated in a variety of ways. I’m not suggesting that any particular country should have an anthem that is dependent upon a *folk instrument*, even if it could be played on one and sound awesome.

While it’s not Scotland’s official anthem (in a number of ways), “Scotland the Brave” is what leaps to my mind as an example of a distinctive tune that partakes of its culture’s musical traditions and can be arranged for anything from a variety of solo instruments up to and including full orchestration.

@Rebecca — do you have a link for one of those versions of the Japanese anthem? I’d love to hear that.

@Jonny K — perhaps “Western” was the wrong term to use if I was including Ireland in the complaint, because you’re right, they’re “Western” too. I was groping for a way to summarize that particular sort of 18th-20th century military march / brass-band / Western-classical-music type of thing that starts to sound really generic after you get past the anthems that are so famous that their familiarity (and, let’s face it, fairly good composition) makes them transcend that genre (I’d put France, the UK, and Germany in that category).

I grant you that Ireland’s folk genre isn’t hugely different from Scotland’s, and is probably distinguishable from Britain’s, Norway’s, Sweden’s, and parts of France’s only by an ear attuned to them all. (I’d bet low dollar amounts that I could distinguish between most of those, since I listen to examples often. But only low dollar amounts.)

But my point isn’t that Ireland’s or Japan’s distinct musical heritages are unique to them. My point was only that I’d rather hear them have an anthem that owed more to those folk genres than to “hi, this could be a 19th century military march from anywhere in Europe or, by that point, any place Europe has colonized”. It wouldn’t matter to me so much if Ireland’s, Scotland’s, and say Norway’s (hypothetical example) anthems were all *similar* in a folk-inspired way, because at least that would be more distinctive as a group than the military-march solution.

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Rob Brown said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Iraq. Is also the unofficial anthem of Palestine, so I hope it’s not controversial to say that this is honestly a pretty nice bit of music; a bit repetitive to say the least, but it’s pleasant.

I can’t see how it would be controversial. The Palestinians do not have it easy right now, and a lot of people sympathize with them.

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Holly: On the other hand, the Swedish national anthem (which MGK will get to in due time, but anyway) use the melody of a Swedish medieval ballad.

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Between the EL of El Salvador and the EQ of Equitoreal Guinea shouldn’t there have been the EN of England? On the other hand they were not there for long and have to use the British national anthem anyway. :p

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Evil Abraham Lincoln said on July 19th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

You mixed up the score for Jamaica and Japan, because Jamaica’s anthem is the most beautiful piece of music ever produced and Japan’s anthem isn’t this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aLy2x6pHtE

Seriously speaking, nothing makes me wish that I was back home quicker than hearing it’s lilts. I miss being able to pick my own July plum (from someone else’s tree, usually) or catch my own fish. But, well, it’s just more profitable here in the States. And we all don’t smoke weed, dammit!

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I think that Hatikva could have gotten a higher score if absolutely every recording of it on youtube wasn’t so melodramatic and schmaltzy. You found probably the most dignified version, and that’s not saying much. Now, having actually played a fair amount of traditional Jewish music, I get how tempting it is to lay on the bathos, but it’s so easy to turn it into a caricature.

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A friend of mine would like to take issue with your scoring, on the grounds that Estonia and Finland use the same tune.

Yeah I dunno.

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I kept thinking Grenada was gonna break into the Imperial March

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Gonja Drummers And Xylophone Players Ghana

[…] little disappointed by Ireland’s and Japan’s anthems. Dignified or stirring, […]

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