Thursday, 5 January 2012

Scotland Needs A National Anthem

How I brimmed with pride when Flower of Scotland was played by the Queen Victoria School's Pipes and Drums at the first 5 Nations played in the then new Murrayfield stadium back in the early 90s. The acoustics created a lag between the band and voices, but it didn't seem to be noticed by anyone at the event - other than the Drum Major. At the time it seemed appropriate to have a 'special' anthem for rugby internationals and it was quickly adopted by the football fraternity too.

However, over the years my opinion has changed. Flower of Scotland wasn't written for pipe bands and, aside from the politically correct argument regarding the lyrics, it sounds a bit of a dirge.

Piper Donald Glass is calling for a more modern anthem. I'm not so sure about 'modern' but Mr Glass is correct when he says a new anthem should be a quick 4/4 march composed for the pipes. Words which people can remember easily and a tune that sticks in the mind are essential too.

Over the years there have been calls for Scotland to have its own national anthem, but with the Commonwealth Games coming here in 2014, now is the time when action should be taken.

None of the old favourites such as 'A Man's a Man' or 'Scotland the Brave' will do. We need something new and uplifting, rejuvinating and memorable.

Maybe our First Minister should have a wee word with Mr Glass. Many senior pipers and drummers compose for their instruments and I'm sure amongst our abundance of talented musicians in every musical sector, an outstanding anthem could be created.

Let's not talk more about it - it's time for action.

I've placed a poll in the sidebar should you care to vote.


Clarinda said...

There was a competition - international - run by the Herald in 1999 for a new Scottish anthem which was won by the long established and respected Scottish musician William Jackson with 'Land of Light'
to hear the track which is available in instrumental and choral versions.

It's some time since I listened to it but it ought to be considered as the competition was open to all at the time. Perhaps when Labour was in government it was ignored but 'Land of Light' should be a strong contender as the winner!

William said...

I've always felt this would make a magnificent anthem -

I honestly believe Scotland would qualify for the World Cup Finals again if this was played as the team lined up.

Uplifting, inspiring and the section from 1:05 to 1:25 is an expression of pure joy.

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful Clarinda, and a lovely arrangement too. But despite its win with the herald, I don't think it's National Anthem material.

As SR says, it has to be stirring musically as well as lyrically. So yes, maybe something written in 4:4.

I'd have been happy with Flower of Scotland. Yes there are politically incorrect lyrics, but, we've had a politically incorrect history. God Save the Queen has politically incorrect lyrics, given that it talks about rebellious Scots.

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring
May he sedition hush
And like a torrent rush
Rebellious Scots to crush
God save the King.

It is quite clearly an English national anthem and I don't recognise it as being ours (although I'd pay it the same respect I would any national anthem).

If we are to have a new one, I think we need lyrics in Gaelic, Scots and English. (Although all sung together at the same time would sound a bit of a mess.)

Demetrius said...

Highland Laddie:

With words to fit.

subrosa said...

Clarinda thanks so much for taking the trouble to post these links. I remember the competition but there was nothing to stir me into song.

I have to agree with Tris that this isn't anthem material. It's more in the soul music bracket for me. We need a march (4/4) or even a jig (6/8) tempo.

subrosa said...

It's not exactly National Anthem material though William. Sounds like a cross between a Dutch/German/British composition.

But it is stirring, I'll give you that. :)

subrosa said...

Auch Tris, Flower of Scotland is a dirge and it was never written to be played on bagpipes. We need something specifically scored for bagpipes as that's the instrument which will be the major player.

subrosa said...

I've always like that march Demetrius, but it's not an easy vocal.

Gedguy said...

Not Scottish but a superb piece of work.

Brian said...

This would make everyone smile and think well of Scots and Scotland. An anthem that doesn't repeat the cliched "our contry is best/better than everyone else's. Imagine the effect on the opposition of a Scottish haka if the Rugger XV danced to the anthem wearing kilts before the game and then whipped them off a la Bucks Fizz - with shorts on of course.
I think the well-known Flanders & Swann song should become the English national anthem, btw.

Apogee said...

When as a kid I asked why the "National Anthem" was so anti Scottish, I was told the following.
It was born in a music hall when "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and his army were heading south into England and it was a wail to the Deity to save the English "butts".How it survives in today's PC world is an interesting question?
"Flower of Scotland" reached the level of popularity it has because of popular acclaim, by the people of Scotland,and like minded people all round the world.
A lot of people like the song because it "speaks" to them, could say that the people have already voted !

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I have always thought "Freedom come all ye" was a contender, here sung by a great Irishman.

subrosa said...

Excellent Gedguy. I remember an ex-QVS Drum Major saying the only thing they lacked was tenor drums. :) But their performance is superb.

subrosa said...

Well Brian, that certainly has the right beat and lilt. :)

Imagine? Can women these days have the vapours? ;)

Do tell me about your choice of English national anthem.

subrosa said...

You think so Apogee? I don't think the people had much choice really. But they could.

subrosa said...

Much as I like it Conan, it has the same dirge level as Flower of Scotland. I can't see that inspiring Scotland into the future.

Lovely tune though. We're good at the minor key, soulful melodies. I admit the tune does convey our culture though.

Bill said...

I think this is the song Brian was referring to by Flanders & Swann
- highly-amusing I always think if tremendously non-PC

Brian said...

@Bill, that's the one: "The Song of Patriotic Prejudice". Obviously, only foreigners don't get irony ;-)

subrosa said...

Thank you for the link Bill. I couldn't remember the title.

It's a fine example of non-pc entertainment as you say.

subrosa said...

You're right Brian, I used to translate my jokes and satire for my German friends. Rather a waste of effort really but they were kind enough to laugh, although in the wrong places. :)

Apogee said...

Hi SR. Point I was trying to make was that it is still around after 20+ years, it wasn't chosen by an X factor contest and forgotten five minutes later. The PEOPLE chose it as a signature tune,because it said something for them that they wanted said. That it is now an accepted unofficial anthem is fact. And by the way, as a piper I can say it can very easily be adapted for pipes. And one shouldn't blame the tune for the performance ! :-))

J. R. Tomlin said...

Few national anthems have a 4/4 beat and I don't even understand why that should be such an issue. Shouldn't the matter be whether the people of the nation have an emotional attachment to it--not whether it would be good for a football match.

subrosa said...

Can't disagree with your first point Apogee, but I would say it's not the easiest melody for pipes. Pity the score wasn't rewritten for pipes beforehand then the F sharp (I think it is) could have been rearranged.

subrosa said...

Many anthems I know have a 4/4 or 6/8 beat Jeanne, but that doesn't mean any other beat isn't suitable. As you say it has to be emotional and not just any song/tune.

Apogee said...

Hi SR, Its a few years since I played the pipes ( we all get old and decrepit, even me,) but long ago and far away,when I was still in a band, we used to play lots of other tunes than traditional Scottish, and it is not difficult if you are competent and know your instrument.You soon learn to improvise,could be there is a knack to it, but I never had a problem.( It was a good drinks earner):-))

subrosa said...

Apogee,I'm not questioning the abilities of pipers, but merely stating Flower of Scotland wasn't written with the bagpipes in mind, but as a folksong.

Of course good musicians can adapt but that still won't make a poor tune better. :)

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