Press Coverage


Lowering 'Banner' key would help, psychiatrist says

San Diego Reader
June 24, 2004

Dr. Ed Siegel has been at it for ten years, and now someone is paying attention. He wants the national nthem lowered, and he wants it lowered now. Down a minor third, from B flat to G, so that the highest note is a D (9 notes above middle C, as opposed to an F, which is 11 notes above middle C). He almost had Congress singing it his way.

"I gave up in January of 2000. Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham had come up with the idea of me opening up the 106th session of Congress with the lowered anthem... Assumed it was a done deal. All 435 members of the House of Representatives would have been singing together."

Singing in unison is what Siegel wants -- to feel the correspondence of the multitudes singing the anthem together -- and reaching all the notes. He believes that right now, people are afraid to sing it.

"I come from Pensacola, Florida, a city where everyone sang. We sang in school, we sang in theaters....Football players had no problem being in the school chorus.... I am the Johnny Appleseed of singing. When I moved to Solana Beach, there was no singing here. People tend to be embarrassed about singing. Most people, if I asked them to sing, it was like I asked them to take their clothes off.... As a psychiatrist, I wonder what that's all about."

As a psychiatrist, Siegel has a deeper motive for wanting the anthem more singable. "Most parents engage their children in singing; soon after, they're asked to perform, so singing is no longer a free expression of their feelings."

In order to encourage this free expression of feelings, Siegel has played almost every Thursday night for the last 18 years at the Solana Beach community singalong. He had many supporters show up on Tuesday, June 15, at the Solana Beach City Council meeting to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the key of G and to encourage the council to adopt his proposal. The council voted unanimously to encourage the federal government to change the official key of the national anthem, even though one person (a professional musician who claimed to have perfect pitch) urged the council vote against it because he doesn't want to see Solana Beach become a "laughingstock." Perhaps his fear is that if the anthem becomes too accessible, fewer professionals will be hired to sing it.

-- Jennifer Ball