Sunday, July 3, 2016

Did You Know #4

Did you know that it's illegal in some states to dance to the Star Spangled Banner?

According to Massachusetts State Law, anyone who plays, sings or renders the "Star Spangled Banner" "other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies" is subjected to a fine of "not more than one hundred dollars." The law also extends to using the song as dance music, an exit march, or a medley. In other words: unless you want to fork over $100, you should probably stick to the script. Hilariously enough, in January 1944, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky found out he was liable to said fine after he conducted his own arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. According to an article published by the New York Times shortly thereafter, then-Boston Police Commissioner Thomas F. Sullivan confirmed "there would be no action" regarding Stravinsky's criminal act. Well, unless you count the Cold War, anyway.

Though it’s an obscure law, in 1931, Michigan passed three criminal codes governing performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Proper performance is defined as follows:
How played—The national hymn or anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, shall not be played, sung or otherwise rendered in this state in any public place nor at any public entertainment, nor in any theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or cafe, except as an entire and separate composition or number and without embellishments of national or other melodies; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” or any part thereof or selection from the same, be played as a part or selection of a medley of any kind; nor shall “The Star Spangled Banner” be played at or in any of the places mentioned herein for dancing or as an exit march.
So beware — no dancing to “The Star-Spangled Banner”!!

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