If your household is like ours, our television has stayed on one station since July 27th — whether it’s summer or winter, when the Olympics are on, we’re riveted to our television. Since the United States has won so many gold medals, we’ve heard “The Star Spangled Banner” played quite a number of times and keep saying to ourselves, “Where did they come up with THAT?”
First of all, the version the Olympics Committee has been using is in the key of C — too high for many people since the highest note will be a high ‘G,’ on the phrase “o’er the land of the free . . .” In public, I’ve only heard the national anthem in the key of A-flat or B-flat, putting the highest note on E-flat or F.
Secondly, the harmonies are not the usual ones we have grown accustomed to, so I found an interesting article titled, “How 205 national anthems were recorded for London Olympics’ medal ceremonies.” Apparently to avoid copyright issues, Philip Sheppard worked with the London Philharmonic to come up with new versions.
As for “The Star Spangled Banner,” what to me sounds so different are the number of A-minor seven chords that are used, not present in any “standard” arrangement. (Sorry to be so technical!)
As church organists, we constantly look for new harmonizations to the hymns, in an effort to keep them fresh and to encourage congregational singing. Sorry, I’m not sure that the London Olympics’ rendition of the U. S. national anthem causes one to break out in song.