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When singing the well-known Happy Birthday song, is there a standard or official way of having two names? The measure has to be elongated, and there's a question of which note to sing the first name on.

Tempo

Should I change the time signature for that measure to fit the required notes? Or should the tempo be drastically reduced for the names and fit them within the standard two-quarter-note length?

Time Signature

Time Signature

Tempo

Tempo

First name's note

As a second question, does the first name stay on the same note as the preceding "dear... ", or do both names get sung at the half step below?

Same Note

G

Step Below

F Sharp

I'm trying to find the right way to notate the music for two names. Is one more correct over the other? Or is this all opinion based?

  • It's going to depend a lot on the number of syllables in each name. There are a lot of combinations. 'Happy birthday to the twins' fits quite well... Or - sing it twice; in order of birth time. – Tim Nov 15 '15 at 8:10
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    2 cakes, and sing twice, or be prepared to deal with "She blew out my candle". – James K Nov 15 '15 at 10:22
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    In my limited experience with any double party, people tend to say "Hyppolita and Aristosthenes" as fast as they can to fit into the original meter. :-) – Carl Witthoft Nov 15 '15 at 13:02
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    … with a rubato to get their breath back ;) – Tetsujin Nov 15 '15 at 14:30
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    There may not be a standard, at least not in published form, because of copyright claims (which were largely thrown out last September). – hpaulj Nov 16 '15 at 0:06
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If performing solo (or with rehearsal), I'd go for a melismatic approach. If for a group singing, just hold on the note until the crowd thinks it's finished. There doesn't seem to be any standard.

0

Personally, I would prefer sticking to the 8.-16 pattern with the step-down in the melody at each name's last syllable. For the line "Happy birthday, dear Elizabeth and Annabell", it would mean:

d8. d16 d'4 b g8. g16 \time 5/4 g8. g16 fis8. fis16 fis8. fis16 e4\fermata

With an additional rest, the time signature does not even need to change:

d8. d16 d'4 b g8. g16 g8. g16 fis8. fis16 fis8. fis16 e4\fermata r4

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