Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Musical Notes That Are Illegal to Play

You won't be hearing these notes played at Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett, Washington.

According to Federal Court Judge Robert Lasnik, Chief Judge of the Western District of Washington, students setting their fingers to keyboard while following these notes are breaking the law, and he has ordered them to stop.

Judge Lasnik, appointed to the bench by President Clinton in 1998, found these particular notes—without any lyrics—are so offensive that he upheld the order by the school district's associate superintendent that the school's wind ensemble not be allowed to perform the music.

"(A)ll of us just picked the piece because we liked how it sounded," according to ensemble member and graduating senior Kathryn Nurre. "We had pretty much mastered it. It was just a piece of music."

Traditionally members of the school's wind ensemble, its top instrumental group, have been allowed to choose music from their repertoire to play at graduation. Not so, now.

So, be careful. Merely humming a few notes in the wrong circumstances could land you in Judge Lasnik's pokey.

School officials have determined that musical selections for graduation must be "entirely secular," a high standard that Franz Biebl's classic instrumental Ave Maria apparently couldn't meet.

Sadly, America falls short, too.


Charles said...

How did musical notes get to be "religious"?

Wouldn't they only be religious to people who had listened to the song with the words often enough to know what it means?

Bob Leibowitz said...

You'd think so, wouldn't you? How would/could an agnostic take any offense from a tune to which he can relate only as a tune?

Under this reasoning Tantum Ergo by St. Thomas Aquinas would cause illegal offense even though almost no one would recognize it and none would know the words or their meaning.

Conversely, America and America the Beautiful would both be illegal, and likely are, because of their explicit references to God.

The reasoning is politically correct, but like most such, completely circular.