How the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ Sounds Eerily Like a Russian Ballad When Performed in a Minor Key

While performing for the Prince’s Trust Gala “We Are Most Amused and Amazed” at the London Palladium in October 2018, the extremely talented musical comedian Bill Bailey explained the difference between the major key (“like me, like me, like me”) and the minor key, demonstrating how much can change when the third note above the root is altered by a half step.

To demonstrate, he played the definitively minor “Für Elise” in a major key, turning it into a festive polka of sorts. Bailey also demonstrated the converse of the concept using the “Star Spangled Banner”, which eerily sounds like a Russian ballad when played in a minor key.

Now some of the great national anthems are written in the major key. In fact most national anthems are in the major key, celebratory uplifting. I like to experiment with them and play them in a different key and what I’m thinking of is the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’, the American national anthem, which i think is appropriately …now I think it should be played in the minor key. It takes on a totally different dynamic.

via Boing Boing

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.