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Describe an interesting song

Part 2

This episode's vocabulary

  • National anthem (noun) - a country's official song, played and/or sung on public occasions.
  • Tune (noun) -a series of musical notes, especially one that is pleasant and easy to remember.
  • Note (noun) - a single sound at a particular level, usually in music, or a written symbol that represents this sound.
  • Bagpipe (noun) - a type of musical instrument, played especially in Scotland and Ireland, from which you produce sound by blowing air into a bag and pressing it out through pipes.
  • Melody (noun) - a tune, often forming part of a larger piece of music.
  • To hum (verb) - to sing without opening your mouth.
  • Verse (noun) - writing that is arranged in short lines with a regular rhythm; poetry.
  • To denigrate (verb) - to say that someone or something is not good or important.


Questions and Answers

M: Rory, are you ready to rock and roll?

R: Yes.

M: Off you go.

R: Well, I suppose no self-respecting Scottish person could ever cover this topic without wanting to focus on either Scotland the Brave, or Flower of Scotland. The reason I say that is because our country doesn't actually have a national anthem. Because it's part of the United Kingdom, which does have a national anthem. And that is God save the Queen, but Scotland has these two different ones, and they compete for the unofficial title of the Scottish National Anthem. My favourite one is Scotland the Brave. Since I think it sounds more traditional and it's easier for me to remember the words and the tune. I also think it sounds better when people play the notes on the bagpipes, or guitar or the piano. Actually, there are quite a few videos of people doing just that if you're interested. So if that's the case, then I can't be the only one who's interested in this kind of thing. The song doesn't really have a story. But it does have a central message, which is basically that Scotland is amazing, and it lives in the hearts of Scottish people wherever we are in the world. And, well, that's quite a positive thing, despite it could be the weather not being so great, for example. It's still something that people feel a connection to. I don't think the words are popular, but the sound of the melody is very recognizable. And you can hum along if you don't know how to sing the verses, for example. The chorus repeats often enough, that it's difficult to forget, though. So you can join in during that part and then sort of let the rest of it go on autopilot with the humming. I think it gets people's attention because it's quite catchy. And it's very inspiring and fun. It's all about what's great about our country and being Scottish without bringing down or denigrating other places, which Flower of Scotland does a little bit. So that's why I would always draw people's attention to Scotland the Brave over its alternatives. And I think it's a great choice for a national anthem if we ever get a real one.

M: What about your friends? Do they like the song?

R: I haven't asked them, but I suspect they do.

M: Thank you, Rory, for your answer!



M: Oh, I thought you'd say something about some of your drinking Scottish songs. Something about the whiskey.

R: Well, we have to be careful. Because there's a big problem in Scotland with Catholics hating each other. So some, some drinking songs here can be really offensive. And it's actually illegal to sing them in some places. Okay, you have to stop. you have to stop.

M: Mary Mallon. This is my favourite song.

R: Marry Malone is Irish.

M: Irish. Oh, sorry. Irish and Scottish are not the same thing.

R: This is why it's important not to sing songs like that in the wrong place. Like I say we have problems with religious violence. So for example, if you sing a Catholic song in a traditionally Protestant area, it can cause serious problems. Scotland the Brave and Flower of Scotland don't have this problem. They bring people together, which is another reason that they're good choices.

M: Yeah, dear listener, you should go online and listen to these songs to understand Rory better. So Scotland the Brave and Flower of Scotland. Go online, listen to the songs. Okay? And do not sing an Irish song in a Scottish pub. Because that could be quite dangerous and you can get beaten up. Alright? By angry Scots, obviously.

R: Are there Scottish pubs though?

M: Scottish pubs?

R: Yeah.

M: You tell me. You're from Scotland. Are there?

R: Well, they're obviously all pubs in Scotland are Scottish pubs.

M: Okay, well, yeah. I mean, like in pubs in Scotland.

R: Masha, Mary Mallon is sung by the Dubliners. Dublin is the capital city of Ireland. How could you possibly get that wrong?

M: I've been there. I've been to Dublin.

R: Great. Okay. So, Dublin is not in Scotland. You should know that.

M: Now I know. Okay, cool. All right. So an interesting song. Rory talked about these two songs. And also he said our country doesn't have a national anthem. A national anthem is this musical composition, a patriotic musical composition. But it's not a song. So a national anthem is like a musical composition, right?

R: Well, most national anthems have words.

M: Hmm. But do you call it a song?

R: Do you know? Well, I'd call it... Well, it's a category of song. Although I think, now, did the Russian originally, the Russian national anthem didn't have words, did it? And they had to write some.

M: Okay...

R: Because before it was just a song like it was it it was just a tune that people played on instruments, and then he had to write words for it.

M: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. And new lyrics by Sergei Mikhalkov. Okay. Yeah.

R: So that's interesting. Sometimes a national anthem has words, and sometimes it doesn't have words yet.

M: Yeah. True. True. So, dear listener, now, could you please choose an interesting song that you can talk about? Again, this should be something easy for you to describe? Or you can make it up or you can... I don't know.

R: Or you can talk about Flower of Scotland.

M: Yeah, after you've listened to it, okay?

R: It's a popular song in your country.

M: Yeah.

R: Well, actually, you just had to say a song that's interesting. So we could just use this.

M: And you've used certain words about the song, for example, like I think it sounds more traditional. So the song sounds more traditional, or...

R: It does sound traditional. You could say, it sounds traditional, because you can play it on the bagpipes. And it usually is played on the bagpipes. And it's all about how great the country is. And traditions are usually celebrations of how great the country is.

M: You can mention different musical instruments like bagpipes. These Scottish bagpipes. Guitar, piano, violin, drums, so yeah, things like this. And then Rory said, it's easy for me to remember the words and tune. Tune. It's not tuna that you eat yum, yum, yum. No, it's the tune of the song.

R: I don't know what that means though.

M: The tune I think the melody, same as the melody.

R: What's the melody? What does that mean? I love this. And we talk about music. And it's got all of these words that people use, like, oh, you know, you can hum the tune or the melody. And then people are like, what's that? And they're like, I don't know.

M: Okay, okay, there we go. There we go. Google will help us. The melody is the most important element within a song. In everyday language, this element is called the tune. So we can use them interchangeably, melody or the tune. For example, in my favorite Irish song, the melody or the tune is going to be... Yeah, that's Mary Mallon. We go Irish, not Scottish, for some reason.

R: For some reason.

M: Okay... So yeah, the melody, the melody of the song or the tune, or you can use both of these words as synonyms. And you say tune, tune. It sounds natural. Then people play the notes. So the notes are these crazy symbols, yeah?

R: Yes. That's like the language of music, the written language of music, I think is what they would call it.

M: The language of music. Nice.

R: Although it's important to point out before we move on from there, on the subject of written language, usually people talk about being able to remember the words or not to remember the words or hum the words or sing the words to the song.

R: I imagine in your head that sounds coherent. But it doesn't sound like it's got much melody to me.

M: Go listen to it. Mary Mallon.

R: I have no intentions.

M: Not you. Not you, our listener. I'm not talking to you. Why would I talk to you, Rory?

R: Why don't they listen to Flower of Scotland or Scotland the Brave. Listen to Scotland the Brave, it's much better.

M: I will, I will. So the song can have a story. And the song can have a central message. Alright? And we are talking about an interesting song. So it does have a central message, which is about blah or blah. Yeah?

R: Yes. Or central message is usually very simple. So you introduce a simple point by saying, basically, blah, blah, blah. And the central message to most national anthems is basically our country is amazing. Thank you!

M: Yeah, yeah. You can say like, the words are popular, or the words, we call them the lyrics, the words of a song. Lyrics. So the lyrics is popular or are popular?

R: Are popular.

M: The lyrics are popular or they may not be popular. The melody is very recognizable. So people recognize the melody. You can hum along it. Even if you don't know how to sing the verses. So what are the verses of a song?

R: The verses are lines of text that move the song forward. So if you imagine a story, or any text, it's got paragraphs, and they move the message or the main parts of the song towards the end. So the verses do this, because every verse has got, it might have the same structure, but it will have different words, whereas the chorus is always the same. And it sort of brings it back together.

M: Yes. Yes. So the chorus is the same. The verses are just like paragraphs, other paragraphs in the lyrics. Yeah, cool. Very specific vocabulary here.

R: What's the central message of the Russian national anthem? Because like for Scotland it's about it doesn't matter where you are in the world, like Scotland is always with you. And you should always come back. But I think it's different in Russia, because most Russian people like live in Russia. So is it not? I think, based on what I can remember from the words, is it not about how Russian people should always work together and like to make Russia great.

M: I'm reading the Wikipedia. So it's about the history and traditions of Russia. Yeah, so the history and traditions of Russia, Russian people are the best. And Russia is also the best.

R: That's a central message. Like most countries have that as the central message for their national anthem. I am trying to think of... What other countries are there? America? I don't know what America's national anthem is. Do they not have like five or something?

M: Oh, no, I have no idea.

R: Whereas if it's God Save the Queen, which is the national anthem for the United Kingdom, for the United Kingdom. It's all about how amazing the queen is. And I'm just sort of sitting there like, but what about the rest of the people that live here? I wouldn't stand up for that. No, absolutely not. It's not something I believe in.

M: But what about other people? Do you say usually stand up when they hear...

R: They can do what they like, I don't mind at all. But it's not something I plan to do. I think a national anthem should be about the people that live in the country or about how the country is like, a good place to live.

M: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

R: Also, I think actually, just, I'm pretty sure that God Save the Queen is all about, like, how great having an empire and having colonies is and don't really think that's a great message to send out there.

M: Colonise the world.

R: Yeah, cause they had a line, which was added during one of the Scottish rebellions, which was all about, you've got to crush these rebellious Scottish people. And Scottish people are just sort of fine with that. It is like but we are part of the United Kingdom now. So do we need to talk about how our country needs to be crushed and destroyed? I don't think that's necessary. Do you?

M: Dear listener, how are you doing? Let's go back to the song.

R: No, I think we're having fun. People should be prepared to talk about a song in detail and what the central meaning is. However, back to vocabulary. You talk about the words, the verses, the chorus. So for example, the chorus or... Yeah, the chorus, which brings everything back together in Scotland the Brave, it's like la la la la la la, Scotland the Brave, it's always like, comes back to Scotland the Brave. Every time.

M: Oh, he's singing. Rory singing on this podcast.

R: The point is that it's a thing that repeats to bring the song together again.

M: Cool. The song could be catchy.

R: Yes.

M: Or it could be inspiring and fun. Yes.

R: Or all three. Scotland the Brave is catchy and fun.

M: Aw, yeah. A song could be also beautiful. Or like popular, traditional. It could be a drinking song, a love song, a religious song.

R: You keep going on about drinking songs like an awful lot.

M: I'm going to tell you about one of the most interesting drinking songs. You listen to it and you drink. Okay, yeah. Yes. So this is it.

R: Ye.

M: Obviously, basically. Make sure you choose your song wisely, the song that you can speak about. Okay, dear listener? And we'll see you and hear in our next episode, speaking part three episode.

R: Where we're going to talk about songs in general, I guess.

M: Bye!

R: Bye!

M: Bye-bye-bye!


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