I have used this blog to make little musical observations and even little musical predictions. This month I will use it to make a little suggestion. This is the month when those in the United States celebrate their independence from the United Kingdom; hence, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States, gets a little more airtime in July than in other months.
There are countless arrangements of this anthem. The music to the left is not in four-part harmony, but is rather the superimposition of melody-bass arrangements of two snippets of this anthem: the music in blue is near the beginning, and the music in red is near the end. Both melodic snippets are from the original tune, and the blue bass line is by far the most common choice for arrangers, although not all, like here. The red bass line, while less common in arrangements, can still be found, like here. This red bass line, when matched with the other notes of my example, produces a neat symmetry if you like that sort of thing: the counterpoint of the two blue lines perfectly reflect around a mirror to produce the counterpoint of the two red lines. When the anthem is in B-flat major—a frequently selected option—this mirror can be placed at middle C, and the treble and bass clefs of the grand staff can well display this symmetry. This symmetry engages not only meter (weak-weak-strong) and relative duration (short-short-long), but also the only internal rhyme (“see,” “free”) in the anthem’s first and, for many, only stanza.