Becker's national anthem bill would introduce "performance standards" at state-sponsored events, with singers signing a contract before they warble the tune. Schools would also be forced to maintain audio recordings of every single performance of the anthem, in case anyone complained. "I don't think it would be very difficult for schools," Becker said. "You could record it on a cellphone."
Personally, I hate it when performers personalize "The Star Spangled Banner." I'm convinced that no one sings it at sporting events anymore because no one knows what the heck the performer is going to do with it. Sing it straight. That said, for the state to criminalize the act of singing the Anthem the "wrong" way is absurd.
Despite a widespread belief in the old violins' superiority and the millions of dollars it now costs to buy a Stradivarius, the fiddles made by the old masters do not, in fact, sound better than high-quality modern instruments...
Despite a general belief among violinists that Stradivari and Guarneri violins are tonally superior, the participants in Ms. Fritz's test could not reliably distinguish such instruments from modern violins. Only eight of the 21 subjects chose an old violin as the one they'd like to take home. In the old-to-new comparison, a Stradivarius came in last, and a new violin was the most preferred.
Sometimes we expect a certain thing to be better because we've been repeatedly told that something is better. However, with proper controls, we find that are assumptions may be wrong. Predictably, there are naysayers:
A less-respectful view of Ms. Fritz's study is offered by violinist Earl Carlyss, a longtime Juilliard String Quartet member. "It's a totally inappropriate way of finding out the quality of these instruments," he said. The auditions, he noted, took place in a hotel room, but violinists always need to assess how an instrument will project in a concert hall.
Mr. Carlyss likened the test to trying to compare a Ford and a Ferrari in a Walmart parking lot. "The modern instruments are very easy to play and sound good to your ear, but what made the old instruments great was their power in a hall," he said.
Fair enough, so why not repeat the test is a concert hall? I suspect the results will be the same, but then an objection that the wrong concert hall was used will arise.