Ilivetolearn's Blog

June 15, 2006

The Royal March at the World Cup

Filed under: lyrics,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 5:52 pm

We watched Spain play against the Ukraine yesterday, and unfortunately once again I missed the pre-game ceremony with the playing of the anthems. Elliot reported that the Ukrainians sang along with theirs, while the Spaniards stood there doing nothing. This is not lack of patriotism; the Spanish national anthem has no words. The tune dates from a military bugle call written in the 1760’s, which was ordered by King Carlos III to be played at events attended by the royal family, and is therefore called the Marcha Real (royal march). There have been several sets of lyrics written for it but each version has its own political associations with royalty (Alfonso XIII) or fascism (Franco) so none has been accepted as official.

When the team scored (and it won, 4-0) the multitudinous fans sang the anthem, using “loo-loo-loo” as the lyrics. Prince Felipe (heir to the throne) and Princess Letizia were in attendance…maybe they sang the Alfonso XIII words (his great-grandfather).

If the controversy in the US about whether the Star-Spangled Banner should only be sung in English gets too overheated, we could just do away with the lyrics altogether. This would please those who forget the words in the middle of their performances, or think the line about “bombs bursting in air” is too warlike, or (like me) think a song glorifying the flag is less meaningful than most national anthems, which praise the physical beauty of a country, or the sterling qualities of its citizens. But at soccer games, when our team scores and we want to sing the anthem (using “doo-doo-doo,” the English version of “loo-loo-loo”) we will still be stuck with the unsingable octave-and-a-half range.

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