Snippets #63, Sunday, 29.Aug.2004 (ISSN 1530-9622)
_______________S N I P P e T S
_________________________from James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door
___________________________________#63, Sunday, 29.Aug.2004
_____1. The National Anthem
_____2. New Microsoft Mouse
__________1. THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
As the Olympics have been running the past few days, I've heard the US National Anthem over and over.
What many people do not know is how our National Anthem came to be, and especially where the music comes from.
On September 13, 1814, while the American forces were defending Fort McHenry against a British attack, a 35-year old, lawyer and poet named Francis Scott Key wrote a poem. Key had journeyed to the area to negotiate the release of Key's friend, Dr. William Beanes, who had been taken prisoner by the British. While he did negotiated the release, Key, Beanes and Colonel John Skinner (the government's prisoner of war exchange agent) were detained on the British ship during the attack.
Detained on the ship, watching the attack on the fort, he wrote the poem to match the beat of an English drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven".
The song slowly grew in popularity. It was well known and used by both sides during the Civil war. Later, it became popular with the military and was used as an "unofficial" national anthem. During World War I, the song became widely accepted and a drive began to make it official. In 1931 Congress enacted legislation to make "The Star-Spangled Banner" the official national anthem.
Because he already knew a popular tune ("To Anacreon in Heaven"), Key wrote the poem to match the music. The tune was for a popular drinking song, from The Anacreontic Society, a popular gentlemen's club in London, dedicated to "wit, harmony, and the god of wine."
The tune itself was composed as a collective effort. John Stafford Smith (1750-1836), a court musician and member of the society, was probably the guiding force behind this endeavor and most likely is the person responsible for the tune as we know it today.
By 1798 the tune had appeared in American papers with various lyrics. At that time, popular tunes were frequently re-used with other lyrics. Maryland's state song, "Maryland, My Maryland", for example, is the German tune, "O Tannenbaum" (Oh Christmas Tree).
Francis Scott Key had used the tune before, for an earlier poem titled "When the Warrior Returns". He just used it again for his poem about "the dawn's early light".
The Lyrics of "To Anacreon in Heaven" (includes a link to the music so you can sing along)
More About the Song
__________2. NEW MICROSOFT MOUSe
Microsoft has introduced a new mouse designed by minimalist designer Philippe Starck.
If you'd like to know more about Philippe Stark check out his website. It has a ton of photos of the things he's designed. (But be prepared. I find it extremely inconvenient to navigate the site.)
Microsoft Page About the Mouse
Philippe Starck Site
An Online Sales Site for Philippe Stark