What makes a good National Day song

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SINGAPORE - There has been much debate over the need to change the National Day song every year ("NDP song cheesy? That's one view"; last Sunday).

To me, an ideal National Day song has these hallmarks:

- It should be readily recognised by the young and old as a National Day song.

- It must help Singaporeans build up an "emotional memory bank", that is, every time the song is played, it will evoke recollections of our struggles, perseverance and progress, and most importantly, stir national pride.

- It can be catchy, but should not compromise the significance of National Day. The tune should also be easy enough for the masses to sing along to.

- It should be widely enjoyed so that it does not matter if it is played over and over again for generations to come.

Good examples to emulate are the tunes played by military bands at parades. When I was a young boy, I would join the lines along the streets during National Day to watch the contingents of marching soldiers. The military band accompanying them played familiar marching tunes that all of us could identify with.

When I served my national service, the same tunes encouraged us and gave us great pride when we marched past our commanders and parents during the passing-out parade. The same tunes were played during my two sons' passing-out parades. Their faces, too, were full of pride as they marched past their parents.

Hence, I feel that we do not need to have a regular change of National Day songs. We just need to find that one song that will appeal to us now and the generations to come.

 -Chan Pak Chuen


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