Jack McKown

the jack of all trades

Spangled: An Anthem for a Nation in Crisis – for Men’s Chorus

I originally composed this arrangement of the US National Anthem for men’s chorus in 2017. It came about as a request of the Nu Eta Chapter of Sinfonians, and so I agreed to take on the project. 

In the first year of our nation’s most peculiar presidency, the mood of most Americans didn’t quite coalesce with a traditional approach to the arrangement. Because of this, I decided use mixed-meters, and dense but rich harmonies. And, as time progresses, the mood proves more and more prevalent. 


If you’d like to perform this piece with your choir, contact me here for parts and scores. 

Also, if your choir is mixed, you can request an SATB version.

Burnt-out old Piano

about this arrangement of the US National Anthem


One of the first things people notice about this arrangement is the quote at the beginning. So, if you didn’t catch it on the first listen, take a minute and listen again. You may notice the impression of “Taps”. Designated the “National song of Remembrance,” this military bugle call seemed an appropriate opening for the mood I wanted to set. Being played every evening at 2100 hours, at flag ceremonies, and at military funerals, I feel that it signifies the end of the daylight hours of our nation. 

As the lyrics begin, the most striking feature noticeable from a traditional arrangement is the shifting meters. This toys with the listener’s expectations, creating a sense of imbalance and uneasiness. At the same time, rich harmonies and complex textures envelop the listener giving a sense of warmth and hope. 

The arrangement runs at approximately 2:40. To hear more of my choral works, just have a look here..

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