Why It Is Called a Swan Song

January 5, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

By Kaye Nemec

If you’ve been watching NBC’s The Sing Off, you’re probably familiar with the term “swan song.” At the end of each episode, the group that gets voted off leaves the stage as they perform what host Nick Lachey refers to as their swan song.

A swan song is used in reference to any final theatrical or dramatic performance. It can also be said that a political candidate is singing his/her swan song during their final political campaign or final term of office.

The term “swan song” comes from the belief that Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) were completely silent until the last few moments of their life, when they would sing a beautiful song. Although this is an ancient myth and was proven to be false, as far back as 77A.D., the legend has lived on and the term swan song has become mainstream.

Although Mute Swans do have a straight trachea that prevents them from making loud noises and, although they are usually pretty quiet, they are not mute. They make hissing, whistling, snorting and soft bark-like noises.

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Photo: Christian Roberts (cc)

Sources: University of Michigan, Wikipedia

Entry filed under: Entertainment, History and Origins. Tags: , .

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