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Anthems ruined by the vocal gymnasts.

Byline: david BANKS

WHAT has happened to the singing of anthems? There was a time when they were just belted out by the massed ranks of fans assembled to the accompaniment of some military band or other.

And the anthems usually, when sung properly, kind of ambled along to a descending note and then we got on with the business of the rugby or football.

Now we increasingly see the use of famous singers to "lead" the anthems.

This has two effects. Firstly, the delay in the sound of the singer getting to the back of the stands means the crowd is singing a good second or so behind their leader, which produces a most disconcerting echo.

Secondly, the singers, wanting to finish big, have taken to singing a counter-harmony of their final line. So when the voices of the crowd are going down, the singer is going up through the scales.

They've been doing it for a while now with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau on the line "collasant..." where the singer holds a high note as the crowd descend.

But the worst examples rwere in the FA Cup Final when the two singers leading Abide With Me started the vocal gymnastics on the final line, and God Save the Queen got the same treatment.

Abide With Me is what the band played on the Titanic as it sank beneath the icy waves, and its finale should slip slowly to the depths, not a soaring vocal extravaganza.

So it's time for CAMPA, the Campaign for Proper Anthems, calling for:

A halt to the practice of using sopranos to lead a crowd of predominantly dodgy tenors and baritones

Sing it the way it's always been sung - stick to the original tune and forget the vocal gymnastics

Pointing out to the Ruperts who follow English rugby that singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot - a spiritual written by a former slave - has just the teensiest bit of irony to it

The exception to these rules is Katherine Jenkins when she is wearing a Wales shirt two sizes too small: she can carry on - just turn off the microphone
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 5, 2007
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