We came to know a new tune, Canoe Song, written almost 100 years ago on a canadian native american melody by Margaret Embers McGee.
Some of you may have noticed the constant, plain and recursive pace of the melody, typical of many working songs which are used to synchronize group working, althou in this case people’s synchronized job was… paddling! Also this song has been used from the very start from Canadian and US boy-scouts groups has a cohesive gathering song around a campfire.
The last verse (Dip dip and swing” o sigui “imergeix i balanceja”) is the key-verse because it gives the rhythm and moreoever can be used as a ostinato (italian for ground bass) for giving the song a constant harmonical base (bass line). As it is made of just one or two notes, we can call it a drone (or in italian: bordone). This is what the teacher did: to sing “Dip dip and swing” while the rest of the group sang the entire tune!
Actually in this song all verses can be mixed up one upon the other, and for this reason we can sing it in rounds: each voice can start singing the entire melody with a gap with the former voice, e.g. starting singing the 1st verse “My paddle is keen and bright” when the other voice is already singing the 2nd one “Flashing with silver”. When the 1st voice reaches to the last verse, the 2nd one is already starting again from the beginning, so the process is virtually infinite! (This is what exactly happens in the CD between the girl’s voice and the daddy’s voice)
Harmony in family
After rhythm, this week has been the time of another concept for which rhythm is an essential condition: harmony.
To sing with a drone, an ostinato or in rounds are the easiest ways to build up harmony (more than one different sounds at the same time) with our voices. We will perform it with other songs too; guess which one! Also we’ll have rhythm rounds with Fireworks!: let’s see what happens!
Canoe song has often been mixed up and confused with the song Land of the Silver Birch, to the point that in many recordings we can listen to its verses as a ostinato for the other song. For this reason I’m very fond of Canoe Song: it is like a family (and like Music Together) where everybody does what he can, even just listening, while the quiet river of harmony takes everybody with its flow.
- If you still didn’t listen to the “Bongos” CD, DO it please!
- Listen to Fireworks! again!
- Listen to Canoe Song. Upon the recording we’ll sing “Dip dip and swing” in all this song, expecially when we can listen to the voices, in order to give them a ostinato. Then, come back to the recording alone, and listen carefully. We’ll notice that the daddys voice come in when the girl’s voice already starts singing the second verse. We’ll try to do the same, and come in singing beginning from the 1st verse when the daddy starts singing the 2nd one (and the girl starts the 3rd one). Let’s see what happens!
- Why not singing Canoe Song as a lullaby? When the kids will be about to sleep, start repeating “Dip dip and swing” diminuendo (fading out).
- Go in the kitchen and grab a noisy instrument to play on a given song (one with lot of rhythm and which we do like)!
- The book part we’re going to read this week has to do with us, mothers and fathers, the drones of our kid’s life. Well’ read “The parent’s path” box at page 8, and then p. 10 (“How to Use this Book”) and page 12 too.
This week activities list:
- Open and Shut Them with silence and coronas (moments in which músic “freeze” on one note to create dramatic expectation)
- Canoe Song with ostinato
- She’ll be comin’ round the mountain sitting down or standing up
- Palo palo one more time!
- See how I’m jumping also dancing in couples
- This old man with sticks
- Bongo jam playalong
- My Bonnie as a lullaby, also in a rather popular catalan version
Before and after the session we listened to Folk playground, one of the Putumayo Kids series compilations. We already know the 1st song, can you recognize it? Yes, it is This old man!