I will admit, I have nothing on Mozart – but he was working with a clavichord and a massive genius…all I have is my bright yellow epiphone ej200ce, my 10 year old casio keyboard and my Korg CR-4 (which may be a collectors item – even KORG is calling it “OBSOLETE”).
But, I’ll set my dim little star twinkling next to his massive one with the 3rd variation on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (or should I say Ah vous dirai-je mama?). This, for your listening enjoyment, is a reggae instrumental!
Stay tuned for a Tiny Tim Tribute/Ukulele version!
To read about the history of this song go here.
Sorry I haven’t written for so long – I was busy coaching t-ball for the past month and a half. For those of you who coach the sport, you know that there’s not supposed to be any competition involved – our goal is to instill the young ones with a love of the game. I think we managed to do that here in Francestown, but not many games went by when at least one member of the team came up and asked, “Coach Steve, who won?”
I hope I wasn’t yelling something like, “COME ON!!!! A SIX YEAR OLD COULD HAVE CAUGHT THAT!!!”
Anyway, to make up for the absence, I thought I’d give you a CLASSIC mp3 to put onto your Ipod. This was recorded in 1915 by Bill Murray (long before his Caddyshack days, I’m guessing…). Enjoy!
Need a song, or two, or seventy? I was casting around for some tunes to sing and play, and I must have typed in” campfire tunes” and KABOOM (or KA-GOOGLE) I found The Virtual Campfire.
I ignored the fact that somehow the idea of a virtual campfire is a little pitiful and clicked onward…to find…lot’s of songs! Not only lots of songs, but lots of songs sung by British people around a real campfire…crazy, but just so crazy that it works.
To give you a sample, here’s that well-known favorite, Chicken on a Raft. OK, so maybe it’s not your favorite song, but it’s a darn good song, worth singing, and it’s some indication of the depth of Virtual Campfire’s library…it’s big, and fun, and goofy at times, but definitely worth perusing and singing along.
p.s. If you do sing along, try to light a real fire so you’re not so pitiful…or if you’re entirely comfortable with the virtual world, play this video of a virtual fire and then sing-a-long – with your virtual friends.
Tags: free mp3, home recording, Twinkle, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Here’s variation #2 – Twinkle Twinkle.mp3
(Go here to get variation #3!)
After writing about this song (here), I set to work recording it – you may have been one of the few lucky ones to have downloaded the now rare (and deleted) version that I posted earlier today – I tried to clean it up, and offer this version now – Mozart did 12 variations on this tune – I’m on my second, and may try a few more before it’s all said and done. It’s an interesting song – weird that I could do a bass line that isn’t too far from Pachabel Canon in D – Anyway, enjoy this variation – I’m going to shoot for at least 10 more. Look for them to pop up every now and again.
(…MORE than a few months later, I finally got to number three…check it out here!)
Oh yeah, here’s the entire poem…if you wanted to keep singing –
- Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
- How I wonder what you are!
- Up above the world so high,
- Like a diamond in the sky!
- When the blazing sun is gone,
- When he nothing shines upon,
- Then you show your little light,
- Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
- Then the traveler in the dark,
- Thanks you for your tiny spark,
- He could not see which way to go,
- If you did not twinkle so.
- In the dark blue sky you keep,
- And often through my curtains peep,
- For you never shut your eye,
- Till the sun is in the sky.
- As your bright and tiny spark,
- Lights the traveller in the dark,—
- Though I know not what you are,
- Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
- – Jane Taylor, 1806
“Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Ah vous dirai-je maman,” “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” “ABC,” Jane Taylor and MozartFebruary 24, 2008 at 8:54 am | Posted in kids music, Music for You | 5 Comments
Rumor has it that Mozart wrote the tune, but Mozart himself debunked that myth by titling his piece, “12 Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je mama” – the source was a French folk song – here’s a great page with Mozart’s version – Mozart’s 12 Variations on Ah vous dirai-je maman – it is fittingly manic (as Mozart seems to have been) but I’d like to suggest that it’s not as successful as the eventual variation that Mozart never heard – “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
The text for the now famous version of this song was written in 1806 (15 years after Mozart died) by Jane Taylor in England. We’re not really sure how the melody and the poem got together – but generation upon generation of children are happy that they did. It truly is a melody and poem that were star-crossed – the Romeo and Juliet of the Music world…
And yes, I am aware of the implications of that metaphor – just like Romeo and Juliet, there were forces trying to pull these two apart. This brilliant (and anonymous) melody has been courted by a whole lot of other lovers – “ABCD” and “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” use it, as well as the the German song “Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann“and the Hungarian Christmas carol “Hull a pelyhes fehér hó“, and the Dutch “Altijd is Kortjakje ziek“. In addition to Mozart, Franz Liszt, wrote “Album Leaf: ‘Ah vous dirai-je, maman’
Suffice to say, this song rocks…I guess it’s time for me to set my star with the greats and record my own variation. Stay tuned, I’m dusting off the 4-track as I finish this…a few days later…finished it – Check out the results – my Twinkle Twinkle Free MP3 here!
To hear the third variation, go here!
Tags: Bing Crosby, free mp3, side by side, Valentines Day
Here’s a great old tune – “Side by Side” performed by Paul Whiteman and the Rhythm Boys recorded in 1927 and featuring a 24 year old Bing Crosby on vocals.
Here are the lyrics – seemed appropriate for V-day to me…
Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny
But well travel along
Singing a song
Side by side
I don’t know whats a-comin’ tomorrow
Maybe its trouble and sorrow
But well travel the road
Sharing our load
Side by side
Thru all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as were together
It doesn’t matter at all
When they’ve all had their quarrels and parted
Well be the same as we started
Just traveling along
Singing a song
Side by side
Tags: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, UB40
Will someone tell me what it is about Reggae that enchants children so? Something tells me it’s not the choice of colors. (although they are appealing):
No, it is the music that captures kids – and I will admit, for me as well, reggae is enchanting…I’ve spent more time in my life than I probably should have at Jimmy Cliff concerts, reggae fests, Wailers shows (Bob had died by then, alas), UB40 shows, Toots and the Maytal shows, English Beat/General Public shows, etc., etc…I get it – and so do kids, from the womb, it would seem (maybe the reggae beat mimics the mothers’ heartbeat…Mom’s Heart – Bob Marley?) .
I’m not kidding here – try it. A friend of mine told me about a reggae album he had for kids – it’s titled “Reggae for Kids” (wow, the originality is overwhelming, there). My response is, why bother? Just put on Peter Tosh (OK, skip “Legalize It” if you want to avoid a strange conversation with your six year old), Bob Marley, Steel Pulse…it doesn’t matter, kids hear that characteristic ‘chunk-kunk, chunk-kunk” (here it is from Peter T. – Pick Myself Up.mp3), or that rhythmic lead in on the high timbale (here it is from Steel Pulse – Steppin Out.mp3), and they’re dancin’…
I have experimented with this a bunch, in my own music…here’re a couple of clips of our attempts at reggae:
…and with my own kids – here, as evidence that Reggae works, are some photos of Gus, who had been sitting at the table painting, but couldn’t helped being moved to dance right in his seat…irie!
About six months ago, Abe’s buddy Cayden moved out of town. It was tough for Abe’s four year old psyche to handle, and we ended up having a number of conversations about the transient nature of friendship (ok, I’ll admit I never used the word ‘transient’ in those discussions…also, the conversations usually were more transient than any friendship I know of, because Abe would get distracted by a matchbox dump truck or something after about 90 seconds of deep conversation, but it was still touching…). Anyway, Cayden came back to town this week for a visit, and he and Abe hit every note (sizing each other up, playing beautifully together, arguing about sharing, parallel playing, and even a hug) within about four minutes. It got me thinking about my old friends, and then (and this couldn’t have been better timed unless it was in some bad movie), my long time buddy Chris sent me an e-mail.
I met Chris my first day in high school; you remember that day, don’t you? You wander around, looking for anyone who looks vaguely approachable…Chris was in a bunch of my classes and somehow, in our first conversation, we ended up talking about Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Chris knew about Springsteen, I had heard Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s remake…who do you think was cooler? Anyway, one thing led to another, and Chris and I formed a band. After looking at a bunch of book spines at a local bookstore, we named our band “Onyx,” after the famous book by Jacqueline Briskin (you know it, don’t you?) You can find it here if you’re interested. Here we are in an undated promo photo (I’m thinking it was sometime in the late eighties…twenty or so years ago (ouch):
We recorded a few CD’s on a Tascam 4 track – here’s a sample, to give you an idea… Letter.mp3 .
Chris emailed to let me know that he had been checking out my blog and enjoying it – then, like any good old friend, he told me how great he thought the whole thing was…It’s not surprising that Chris, being the cooler of the two friends, started his blog long ago; he’s an old hand at it, so I took his compliments as words from a seasoned professional. He’s at http://blog.myspace.com/greenmtwriter , if you’re interested in reading some of of his sharp and very funny observations about the world. As you’re reading , remember that those little people who are fighting over dump trucks today in your living room, will eventually be teenagers making (very loud) music in that same living room, BUT THEN will eventually become old friends who, twenty or so years later, laugh about it all.
Tags: Bruce Springsteen, Froggie Went a Courtin', Nemo, Seeger Sessions, Snake
Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 release, The Seeger Sessions is a great CD for kids – try it some time. Recently Abe and I were listening to it as background music. “Froggie Went a Courtin'” came on – I’m sure you’ve heard it somewhere along the way, lots of kids singers have done very vanilla versions of the song, but not Bruce – not the BOSS. He does it like it ought to be done (of course), and Abe was groovin’ to the tune. If you’re familiar with the song, you know how it goes – Froggie goes a courtin,’ woos Miss Mousie, they have the wedding and then we get a list of all the guests…”First to come in was a flyin’ moth, she spread out the table cloth…” and so on.
I want to pause for a moment here – and say two things. First, our kids are pretty naive. I wish I could tell you it’s because we knew what we were doing. Truth is, it was because of inertia. When Isabel went to pre-school, we had never moved beyond Sesame Street – why would we when it worked so well? (OK, I do need to admit that it took me awhile to get over Baby Bear‘s speech impediment.) I’ll never forget ‘Daddy Pizza and Movie Night’ when we went to the pre-school with all the other kids and dads. The movie was “Finding Nemo,” and Isabel didn’t make it past the first scene (by the way, what’s Disney’s issues with Mom’s?) All the other kids wondered why my daughter was crying and saying “I want to go home…” At the time, I felt like saying, ‘It’s because the kid’s/fish’s mother was just killed – the biggest crisis she’s ever had to deal with on TV is Big Bird having trouble finding Ernie!!!’ I didn’t say that to all the jeering four and five year olds, though, I just picked up my crying little girl and left. The second thing I need to tell you is that Abe is a lyrics-hound. He listens intently and repeats lyrics to himself. He likes the sound of words. Sometimes, days after we see a movie, we’ll hear Abe repeating the lines…a little like the guy I hung out with in college who used to repeat Caddyshack lines…scary.
So, back to “Froggie Went a Courtin.’ As we made our way through the wedding, we eventually came to the line that Abe would repeat again and again. He’d listen to it with the same sort of glee that someone might go into a haunted house at an amusement park . The line is of course, “Next to come in was a Big Black Snake – chased them all into the lake…” Here it is, that line is, from Bruce, in all it’s glory – Springsteen Froggie Clip – For a coupe of weeks, that snake was the villain in our games, he woke up Abe (and, consequently Tonya and me) more than once in the middle of the night…to have the imagination of a child. Strangely, though, this song has intrigued a lot of people over the years…
Here’s one loyal Springsteen fan’s attept to list all the other recordings of the song – Versions of Froggie Went a Courtin’ . Another devotee of the song has listed the over 170 verses of the song that have been written or sung since it’s first printed incarnation in 1611 here – Froggie Verses . The song’s one drawback…it’s repetitive. Man, is this song repetitive – but that, of course, cuts both ways. It drives us adults crazy, but sucks our kids in – it’s probably the reason why this song has lasted so long, and probably why, 400 years after it was first written, it can still give a little boy the chills.
Just thought I’d share a song that I have come to love -it’s Cluck Old Hen by Fiddlin’ Powers and Family. It was originally recorded in 1925 on an Edison Diamond Disc test pressing. It’s currently open source audio – enjoy it, play it for your kids and remember that rock and roll is a state of mind…and these guys sure had it!
“You want some of this?!?” -Fiddlin’ Powers and Family -1925