i Editor's Letter: New arrangement


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The Independent Online


Poor Philip Sheppard. Who knew that a composer's life could be so full of danger and diplomatic incident? Mr Sheppard, you may remember, was responsible for coming up with arrangements for the 205 national anthems that, potentially, could have been played at the Olympics.

Colombia was the first country to take offence: Mr Sheppard received death threats - quite unfairly - because the anthem, "Oh, Unfading Glory", was included in an online league table of "worst national anthems" .

Then a Hungarian athlete complained that the arrangement of his national anthem was too fast, while the Dutch, reportedly, had a quiet word with the Olympic authorities about the chord progressions in theirs.

The latest furore, however, is over Mr Sheppard's arrangement of our own anthem, God Save The Queen, which has a new harmonisation and is missing four notes! You might not have realised, because they're not actually sung. They form the transition (dah, dah, dah dah, or G, A, B, C, depending on your musical ability) between the first bit ("God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen") and the second bit ("Send her victorious etc").

As your letters (page 14) demonstrate, the national anthem is a subject that arouses strong passions. Readers are divided on whether they agree with i columnist Dominic Lawson, who earlier this week complained it was a dirge, and others who fear a replacement might be even worse.

Personally, I rather like Mr Sheppard's new arrangement. What I like even more is that we are getting to hear it so often.

Stefano Hatfield is away

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