“The playing of the United States’ national anthem at Olympic medal ceremonies is bringing tears to the eyes of American athletes here. Elsewhere, the song is having a very different effect,” writes David Segal in Thursday’s (8/11) New York Times. “Jason DeBord, a faculty member of the University of Michigan’s department of musical theater, explains the changes made to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ being played at the Olympics. Specifically, DeBord said, this ‘Banner’ segues several times to minor chords, which in the Western canon are considered melancholic, in places where major chords, which are heartier and more upbeat, are the norm.… At [the lyric] ‘proudly,’ he noted, the Olympic version of the anthem goes to one of those sad, dark minor chords where majors have long been the norm.… The Olympic version was conciliatory, maybe even retreating. The standard version was chest-thumping and on the offense.… [Musicologist Mark] Clague, who is working on a book about ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ did indeed notice the new Olympic take on the song.… ‘Here it goes to a minor chord,’ he said, ‘so rather than having that firm, confident expression of the word ‘free,’ you get an unstable, questioning chord.’ ”

Posted August 12, 2016