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By The Cynical Tendency
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Singing For Their Supper

Thursday, February 9, 2017 7:16
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The SNP members of The House of Commons are reported to have been humming a tune at one point during the Brexit business before The House. Sadly it was not the “Humming Chorus” from Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”. This is when she is waiting for her American Lover to come as his ship is back in port and she has had a son by him.

It ends badly of course, opera’s often do, because he has come to tell her he has married another and worse he wants the child she bore him. His name is Pinkerton, a good old Scottish name, said to come from a Townland by Dunbar.

The tune hummed by the Scots in The House was the choral last movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which has been taken by EU Brussels to be the anthem of the Union; the SNP could not manage the words, which are German.

It is a wonderful uplifting piece of music which we have heard many times, not least when standing in the Arena at the Royal Albert Hall. When Brussels decided to take it perhaps while realising that it was a great tune known to many they were not fully conversant of the actual history etc. behind it.

This too is probably beyond the SNP members and one is only sorry that they did not have the wit or imagination to hum something Scottish. “Will Ye No Come Back Again” would have been a good option.

If vocal and referring to President Trump we might have had “Donald Where’s Your Trousers”, a much loved song now little heard.

The great pity is that Brussels did not commission at some point an anthem that was new, modern and in keeping with the Europe of our time. The obvious man to ask was Pierre Boulez, a composer of authority, who once declared that any musician not conversant with Dodecaphonic music was useless.

His works in the form of electronics, total serialism and controlled chance would have allowed Brussels to insist on a Europe of new music issued from a limited groups of experts in these advanced forms.

It would have been very different but probably far more in accord with SNP policy than any of that old Beethoven, a jobbing composer from the backwoods of Germany earning his crust in the Vienna of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Habsburgs.

We could have had the barking of seals in the bass to refer to the EU fisheries policy. A soft lowing in the contralto would give us the cattle and milk matter. Hiccups in the tenor, the support for wine, castrato’s for veal, the sopranos for poultry with baritone’s chanting extracts from key regulations. At the very end all would sing loudly on one note for a full hour.

Brussels might then have issued regulations dictating which songs were top of the pops etc. and they would have allowed the new EU anthem a permanent place at Number One.

But we are stuck with the “Ode to Joy” the words from a poem by Friedrich Schiller, known to his friends as “Fritz”. In that period of rising nationalism in Europe it was a call for Germans to have their own state of Germany.

It could have been worse, Merkel might well have gone for “Prussian Glory”.


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