The Instigator
Ylareina
Pro (for)
Losing
5 Points
The Contender
ellyphant
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

The French national anthem is greater than the American national anthem

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,896 times Debate No: 3355
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (8)

 

Ylareina

Pro

The French national anthem is greater than the American. It is older than the American and has a better tune.
ellyphant

Con

The idea that any national anthem is "greater" than another already seems absurd, but I'm particularly stunned that, of all anthems, you would choose the French one. (As a prelude to all further debates, I do not associate the French national anthem with the quality of French culture in any way.)

Firstly, I would like to know to what definition of "great" you are referring. I assume you mean the term to refer to the quality of the piece, not just its length or volume. I would certainly appreciate your interpretation of the word in your next post, but for now will assume that it just means "good".

You posed two arguments in favor of the French National Anthem: it's age and it's musical quality. To address the first, the two compositions were about twenty years apart in composition. Considering both were written about two centuries ago, that would be the equivalent of saying that my best friend is prettier, more intelligent, or more in possession of any redeeming quality than myself just because she's a few years older. Both of these convictions are completely unfounded; age, if anything, reduces the quality of an object to a modern audience, excluding wine and some cheese.

As for the quality of the piece, I can't imagine there's much to compare between the melodies. It's like comparing Gaugin, Monet and Van Gogh: their pieces may have a great deal in common regarding medium and subject, but a crowd of twenty people could not agree upon which is the "best"--there are too many standards. I think lyrics, not melody, would be worth comparing in the case of an anthem, as it is the message that truly makes it great; the melody simply aids the expression of that message.

Sources:
http://www.fordham.edu...
http://americanhistory.si.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Ylareina

Pro

Thanks for joining in this debate.

Let me continue by saying I don't wish to disrespect the American national anthem or take issue with its purpose or sentiments, which are most definitely noble. I feel the French national anthem is greater for the following reasons.

1. The American Anthem is harder to sing from the point of view of music an remembering the lyrics (http://en.wikipedia.org...). The French anthem is greater because it is simpler to remember and sing for anyone new to a country which sings the anthem.

2. The French is greater because it is the national anthem of many more countries than just one, unlike the American national anthem.

3. The French Anthem moved people to action and directly aided the cause of Liberty in overthrowing the tyranny of the French crown, by becoming the rallying call of the French Revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org...). It is greater in that it rallied and moved people to action in the cause of Liberty, and its ultimate effect was greater--the liberation of France. The American anthem hadn't had a corresponding effect.

Thus, while the Star Spangled Banner and La Marseillaise are both very great anthems, the French is greater.
ellyphant

Con

Well met. I'll address each of the points you made, one at a time.

1. You claim that the French national anthem is easier to sing and memorize, and therefore a greater song. Firstly, La Marseillaise is seven verses long, not counting repeats of the refrain; I don't see how that's easier to memorize. Now, arguably, the American national anthem is four verses long, but we only endeavour to memorize the first verse--a grand total of eight lines of about ten words, all rhyming in some way. That's about as much to remember as the first verse and chorus of the French national anthem; I don't know how much the French choose to sing, but I assume it's at least that much. Furthermore, the melodic complexity of a song should add to its merit, not detract; in fact, none of these characteristics seem relevant to the grandeur of the song, just its prevalence.

2. Assuming temporarily that the number of countries that adopt a certain national anthem has anything to do with the quality of a song, the amount of actual nations free of French government is rather miniscule; furthermore, the US has plenty of territories, which arguably are at least familiar with the national anthem. Even excluding these territories, the population of the United states is over four times the size of the sum of the populations of all the nations that, according to Wikipedia, have adopted the French anthem (300,000,000 > 68,000,000). If number of nations is relevant, population should be too.

3. Finally, you argue that the French anthem's role in the French Revolution makes it more significant than the American anthem, which had no such impact on the American Revolution (it wasn't even composed until nearly half a century later). However, this argument assumes that the French Revolution itself was a noble and just war, which may certainly be argued by history. The Revolution resulted in death and destruction, reducing the nation to a state of chaos. It was led by such corrupt leaders as Maximilien Robespierre, who, upon completing what he believed to be the majority of the revolution, set himself up to basically be a dictator to the nation. That kind of history doesn't seem to me to be great--fire, blood, guillotines. One can't deny that this was the intent of the Revolution and of the anthem itself: it wishes that "un sang impur / Abreuve nos sillons" ( a blood impure / will water our fields ). As far as imagery is concerned, I prefer the rocket's red glare any day over fields drenched in blood.
Debate Round No. 2
Ylareina

Pro

Thanks for your points!

1. There is no question La Marseillaise is easier to sing. Only the first verse of each national anthem is sung. The words of La Marseillaise are easier to memorize: there are fewer words than in the American national anthem and also also the range of notes is less, leading many commentators to agree that the Star Spangled banner is hard to sing. See my above reference.

2. The La Marseillaise is the national anthem of twelve countries including France and countries in the Caribbean, South America, the south pacific, and the Indian ocean. Although you're correct that the populations of these countries combined is smaller than that of the U.S. La Marseillaise is world-wide, definitely showing world-wide greatness.

3. The French Revolution brought liberty and democracy, regardless of its initial leaders. La Marseillaise as an anthem powerfully contributed to the oppressed rising up against royal oppression, leading to a republic. Yes, the words of the anthem speak about rising up against enemies and tyranny, the exact reason it had and continues to have such an impact.

4. La Marseillaise, words and music by a Frenchman, is glorious because it is the most moving of all national anthems. I say this because of the effect is has on those who hear it and feel oppressed. For example, see the youtube reference below.

I think most of the those voting on this debate will be American. and therefore I have little hope of winning; however I challenge every voter to listen to La Marseillaise on youtube. Here is the version from Casablanca:

The greatest of the great anthems of the world may be American and French; the French is the greatest because it touches the heart in glowing patriotism.
ellyphant

Con

Excellent points.

1. Whether or not the national anthem is easier to sing in France arguably has nothing to do with how great the piece is. I have been a choir member for a number of years now, and through my study of music I have never seen a composition or composer held in high esteem due to the simplicity of the music. A piece that is difficult to sing is quite frequently worth the challenge; for talented singers it is a way to display true talent, and for the audience it gives a valuable music experience. As for our previous argument of length, the difference is really quite miniscule between the first verse of the American Anthem and the first verse and chorus of the French Anthem; the two segments are very similar in this respect, both in quantity of words and total time of the song. The difference being only a few words, I would request that the reader not weigh too heavily upon this point.

2. The quantity of nations that have adopted the French Anthem are-or were-mostly French colonies; they did not adopt the anthem simply because they wanted to. The majority also still use the French flag, and if you look in Wikipedia, many are still credited as belonging to France and being governed at present by President Sarkozy. In my previous argument, I pointed out that the quantity of people following one anthem seemed about as relevant as the number of nations that adopted it; I fear I failed to communicate that I don't think either proves any significant point, particularly in the context of previous French colonialism.

3. The French Revolution brought many IDEAS of Liberty and Democracy, but ended in readopting the monarchy against whom the common people first revolted. In fact, over the next century the nation never adopted an actual Democracy, though it took turns as "a republic, dictatorship, constitutional monarchy, and two different empires," according to Wikipedia and my Modern European History class that I finished a few months ago which highlighted the French Revolution. What really happened during the Revolution is very different from the ideas that instigated it--the reality was much harsher, bloodier, and more destructive than the revolutionary ideals. La Marseillaise is a call to battle; the beginning of the chorus literally translates as "To arms, citizens! Form your battalions! March, march!" I personally don't believe that the order to start a battle, to begin a war, to kill others is a great thing at all. The American National Anthem calls for national pride, with the flag as a representative for the country's steadfastness, beauty, and liberty: the French national anthem is a call for bloodshed.

4. The Star Spangled Banner, words and music by an American, is glorious because it is the most moving of all national anthems. I say this because of the effect is has on those who hear it and feel oppressed. For example, see the youtube reference here:

Forgive the copying, but the original statement made with these same terms has about as much, if not less significance than this one. The previous link gives the singing, in real life, of the American National Anthem at the World Cup of 2006. However, the French national anthem's use in Casablanca is fictional and merely symbolic, since Morocco was a French colonial nation at the time (though occupied by many European nations, including the Germans). The choice to sing the French national anthem in this particular case was simply a choice to drone out the Germans; the volume of the national anthem, not the lyrics or the melody, is the highlight of this scene. I don't expect any viewer to find much "greatness" in the youtube video I posted of the song; I only expect comparison between a fictional case of singing the appropriate national anthem at the time as loudly as possible to a real case of singing the appropriate national anthem at the time, well, as loudly as possible.

Volume is not a sign of musical greatness: good lyrics, good melody, and good symbolism are. Though both national anthems are magnificent, The Star Spangled Banner displays all these traits more than La Marseillaise.

I would like to challenge those reading my final statements to please vote on this debate based upon THE WINNER OF THE DEBATE, not the song you personally prefer. This debate was not intended as a display of patriotism, and as this is my first debate, I would like to be judged fairly.

Thank you, Ylareina and any reader who's taken the time to read all this.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by MonsieurStark 7 years ago
MonsieurStark
Personally, I fail to see the relevance of how many countries sing the national anthem. At least in my opinion, a better argument to use in its place is opinion polls on how stirring or emotional people find either one, if such a poll exists. As for singable. the American Anthem is set to the tune of a drinking song, which should mean in theory that it would be easier to learn, but harder to make an impressive show of. For myself, I think I have only heard it performed well ONCE in my life so far, although perhaps in a bar I might here a better rendition. That is not to say I am ashamed of my home country of America, but when it comes to anthems I have a personal preference for La Marseillaise. As for the song being blood-thirsty, it was initially, but that is no longer the message it is to be interpeted to mean. Now it is to be taken to refer simply to the fight for freedom and equality against tyranny. See more from Mlle. Royale
I would address the French Revolution comment, but being strapped for time I hope to do it later.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
Argument by popularity is usually frowned upon, but in topics such as these, which are inherently biased, I see it as a valid argument.
Posted by ellyphant 8 years ago
ellyphant
I completely agree. It was posed merely as a tentative argument, I believe, by both parties.
Posted by Krad 8 years ago
Krad
I do not see how argument #2 is relavent at all...Excuse me if some people do not know about anime, but right now, a show called "Naruto" is EXTREMELY popular, but in the eyes of most Otaku(real anime lovers/freaks) Naruto doesn't even compare to some of the more unknown animes. Just because more people know about it does not make something better or improve its quality...
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