“Come, children of the Nation, the day of glory has arrived: The bloody standard of tyranny has been raised against us.
Do you hear, in our countryside, the roaring of those fierce soldiers The have come to strangle our women and children in our arms.
To arms, citizens! Form your battalions!
Let us march, so that impure blood may flow in the furrows of our fields!”
The spirited, glorious music of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”, complements the anthem’s revolutionary words through its use of basic musical elements. After a short introduction with cymbals, drums, and blaring trumpets, the texture of the brass instruments thicken in a crescendo to initiate the entrance of a large male choir, who provide the melody throughout the rest of the anthem. A variety of brass and percussive instruments provide the harmony. Even from the melodic line, there is emphasis of certain pitches on which significant words are sung. For example, from the beginning, longer notes and higher pitchs for “patrie” (nation) and “gloire” (glory) compared to surrounding pitches indicates emphasis on these words. Later, in the chorus, the line “to arms, citizens” is emphasized with a clashing cymbal and louder dynamics. Also, the texture shifts slightly, with a softer accompaniment and more prominent drumbeat, during the chorus line “let us march.” The regality of this homophonic, march-like anthem along with the deep, rich timbre of the almost overpowering male choir, while without any significant harmony, both indicate a sort of “celebration of common man.” The lack of embellishments, generally loud dynamics, and provocative cause this anthem to sound more like a sung, bold proclamation. The full chorus, beginning with “to arms, citizens,” is only sung once (after the first verse); and after each other sung verse (which has the same music sung with different words), the mere sentence “to arms, citizens!” is sung as the “chorus.” While there are 7 full verses,...
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