Now that the Olympics are under way, we’re hearing our national anthem more frequently than usual, as our athletes stand on the podium to receive gold medals. A few even sing along with the orchestral version the Olympics uses.
It’s worth noting that many of us aren’t trained vocalists, and have trouble singing the anthem. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics during the War of 1812, intending to fit them to music John Stafford Smith had already composed.
He likely never considered that his composition would become our national song, so he couldn’t even have imagined how difficult it would be for many Americans to hit all the notes properly. The problem with “The Star Spangled Banner” is that its very wide range of notes makes it tough to sing harmoniously. Just listen closely to the vocalist the next few times you hear it.