Our book of sheet music and anthem history—the Star Spangled Songbook—has been published to mark the song’s 201st anniversary!
The Star Spangled Songbook tells a largely forgotten story of the United States of America—of the symbiosis of both anthem and nation—in more than seventy songs with full text and performable sheet music. These all-new scholarly editions reveal the remarkable story of “The Star-Spangled Banner” beginning with the melody’s roots as an 18th-c. English musicians club anthem and vehicle for early American political parodies that predate Francis Scott Key’s lyric. The anthem itself is shown in twenty distinct arrangements revealing its symbolic and musical transformation from song of celebration to national hymn—from its original 1814 arrangement as a solo song with choral refrain to the World War I “Service Version” and then to Igor Stravinsky’s beautiful (yet infamous) setting and a brand new through-composed version of all-four verses by American composer Michael Gandolfi.
“A must for all those passionate for American History, especially our history told through the eyes of Poets and the ears of Composers. Compelling as it is enlightening,… sing your way through the history of ideas and ideals that gave us our National Anthem.”
—American baritone Thomas Hampson
Alternate lyrics reveal the wide-ranging and popular American cultural practice of broadside balladry and explore the political use of Key’s patriotic inspiration to elect presidents, agitate for labor rights, and argue for the abolition of slavery. Other songs by Francis Scott Key and the melody’s composer John Stafford Smith are featured. Created for vocalists, teachers, and anyone fascinated by American history, the Star Spangled Songbook reveals a surprising and rich history through the nation’s song of citizenship.
The book has been edited by SSMF board members Mark Clague and Andrew Kuster. It includes sheet music used to record our Poets & Patriots project with such songs as “The Anacreontic Song” (source tune for Key’s anthem), the first-ever 1814 sheet music edition of the anthem, alternate texts sung to the anthem melody such as the arresting abolitionist song “Oh Say, Do You Hear?,” as well as 20+ arrangements of Key’s text that show how the music has changed over the past two centuries.
The Star Spangled Songbook is spiral bound for convenience as a performance text (it can sit easily on a piano) and contains 282 pages of music, commentary, and historical writings.