Sunday, June 05, 2011

Please Remove Your Hats and Rise for Our Eventual Civic Anthem

My daily posting thus far has kind of been nightly posting instead, but Daily Post Month continues regardless! Which is good, because we're five days in, and if I had already managed to screw that up I would just walk right off the internet and never be seen again.

Anyway -- hey, you know what I think would be fun to write? An anthem.

I've always been a sucker for national anthems and flags, as I'm sure has become obvious every time I've written anything about the Olympics. ("That flag has an AK-47 on it? AWESOME") Every anthem and every flag has its own historical connotations and interesting stories, and fascinations like these probably explain pretty well why History was one of my undergraduate majors. And I've always thought it's interesting that flags are just all over the place -- from the biggest nation to the tiniest little podunk town -- but anthems, with certain exceptions, really only occur at the federal level.

I mention this largely because of the video game Just Cause 2, which I'd say is easily one of my favourite games of this console generation. I could gush at length about the gameplay, graphics, atmosphere, art design, writing, and overall complete fun of the game, but that would take too long for what I'm trying to do here. Ask me later about it, maybe. But what I want to mention here in particular is the music, because there were some very clever musical flourishes involved in this game.

The central premise is that you play as an American agent dropped onto a fictional East Indies nation that has decided to rebel against its previous loyalty to the States, so your job is to blow stuff up and aid various rebel forces and do whatever else is necessary to destabilize the new government and reestablish American influence in the region. And that angle is played entirely sardonically, so you know this kind of thing is right up my alley. But if you're going to make up a fictional country for an interactive medium, you have to aim to create the immersive details that wouldn't normally be a problem with books or other storytelling outlets.

So what did the game's music composers do? They wrote a national anthem. Just straight-up created one, which is not something people get to do just every day.

And of course this would be for the kind of dictatorial little nation that would include it before every national media broadcast--

--and little production touches like that always just make me really happy.

The idea of just casually writing an anthem, busting one out like nothing, also reminded me of how impressed I was when I found out that legendary film composer Ennio Morricone wrote a bombastic march anthem for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina:

So good! Now, I am definitely no Ennio Morricone, and I am certainly no Mats Lundgren or Anders Ehlin either. But if dudes out there can put together national-anthem-sounding arrangements for World Cups and for completely fictional countries, I know I'd definitely enjoy trying to put one together for a town.

Usually one commissions this sort of thing, but I am from Winnipeg and Winnipeg is as stubbornly DIY a city as you will find, so I am going to just wham at it myself with a tiny USB keyboard until something that sounds like an anthem comes out. My big dilemma, though, is whether to write lyrics for it or not. Because, on the one hand, what kind of stupid anthem wouldn't have lyrics? But on the other hand, I am self-aware enough to know what kind of a jerk I am, and it is exactly kind of jerk who would shoehorn in some sarcastic lyrics and gum up a perfectly good anthem.

So that's one of my future projects, down the line; it won't happen today, and it won't happen tomorrow, but one day you will hear the patriotic (is there an equivalent of patriotism for cities? You get the idea) strains of a glorious anthem and know that the anthem has been written for us lunatic Winnipeg guerrillas. Then you can stand, or not stand, I don't know, whatever; the customs for this sort of thing are pretty much unexplored. I guess we'll find out!

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