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The AntiCraft Blog
Jul 4, 2009
You *know* it's not about us, right?

Happy Independence Day. I hope your weather is just right and the fireworks are spectacular, and that you are able to take a little time away from your hotdogs and potato salad and watermelon to think about what "independence" means, and how it applies to your life.

End of MomSpeak. This is The AntiCraft. (...which kind of is why I brought up that whole "think about independence" thing... we sometimes have a little different perspective on that...) And as such, I have something a little odd to throw in about the holiday.

You're going to be hearing the sounds of P.I.Tchaikovsky's The 1812 Overture today, if you haven't already been hearing it. Did you know that it is not about OUR War of 1812?? It's 100% France v Russia, with the Russians pwning all sorts of Napoleonic arse.

(I'm pretty sure you all knew that.)

In fact, it's a spectacular mash-up of two national anthems (La Marseillaise v God Save the Tsar) in a classic battle of the, well, cross orchestra instrumentalists. (It can't really count as a battle of the bands.)

Here's a reenactment of what La Marseillaise WOULD have sounded like if it were sung/shouted by angry Finns.

It's a little different from what you hear pretty much everywhere else (again: angry Finns; 'nuff sed). My theory is that if the French had sounded a little more like this (and, perhaps, invaded Russia AFTER winter, duh) there might have been a different outcome for the little Corsican.


What I really wanted to post today was a recording of The 1812 Overture as sung by barn animals. It's hilarious, but I can't find it. It was all over the Chicago radio WGN when I was a kid. It's probably too old to be uploaded to Teh Webz, so I found this instead.

There's an old brass instrument called a Serpent, and it sounds like a somewhat stuffy french horn. A musician named Douglas Yeo recorded The 1812 Overture using 26 of these intriguing horns. The link provides you with a free mp3 of this very performance. It's a good sound, and I recomend it for your holiday listening, bearing in mind always that this is not a song about any American war. (You want something American and 1812? Google "Don't give up the ship" and Commodore Perry. THAT'S an amazing story.)

I also recommend it just because Mr. Yeo is so darned adorable. I bet he'd be good at reading (or, more likely, reciting) children's stories, as well as playing arcane brass instruments.

Of course, I have a theory for why Americans like to use this foreign war rememberance to celebrate our Independence Day.

We like to blow things up. And there's no other classical tune that goes so well with cannons blasting like this one, outside of the movie Apocalypse Now.

Have a safe holiday!

slathering on sunscreen,

PS -- How would you design a musical instrument from an AntiCraft perspective? Would you choose a different animal (a spider as a stringed instrument, perhaps)? What would it sound like? What would you play on it?


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