I’m back, with little time to spare seeing as it’s about to be August. This Minstrel badge is complex, and multi-faceted to say the least. I had some things left to tackle on the first requirement.
1. Learn and sing with others the following songs, and be able to give sources for them; (a), three American folk songs of different types; (b), three folk songs from other countries; (c), two art songs; (d), two rounds or descants.
Starting with the three American folk songs, I had already sung ‘Camptown Races,’ (lest we forget). In addition I learned ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag,’ the Confederate marching song I found early on) to play on the piano, and topped it off with the famed sea shanty, ‘What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor,’ which was supposedly first recorded in an 1839 whaling voyage out of New London, Connecticut to the Pacific Ocean. The idea to learn this song was birthed at ‘sea’ of course, setting out on the new pedal boats in Echo Park Lake with Emma, Andy and Mads this past weekend. The Irish seem to have claimed this one as their own despite its origins, though I imagine many of these American sailors singing this were of Irish descent. Here’s a grand version of a Canadian-Irish band (?) called The Irish Rovers. And boy are they funny.
For my three songs from other countries, I had already learned the Danish song, ‘Der sat to katte på et bord,’ and Shawnté allowed me to double dip, including my round of ‘Frere Jacques’ as one of my three folk songs from another country, which leads me to one more, ‘The Chicken Dance,’ which is an oom-pah song and ‘fad dance,’ composed by Swiss accordion player Werner Thomas in the 1950s. I knew this song, but I memorized it on the melodica so THERE. The name of the original Swiss song was “Der Ententanz” (The Duck Dance), rumored to be a drinking song sung at Oktoberfest. Some time in the late 1970s, the song acquired the name “Vogeltanz” (The Bird Dance) or “Vogerltanz” (Little Bird Dance or Birdie Dance), although these names never caught on seriously in Germany, because let’s face it guys, ‘The Chicken Dance’ is THE MOST SERIOUS NAME OF ALL.
Two art songs were the last task of #1 (descants I’m ignoring you).
I was overthinking this. Art songs are written as piano accompaniment with a voice as the melody over the top, as most songs are written. Sometimes it’s text from the same composer and writer, sometimes it’s a pairing of two separate entities. For example, ‘Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred‘ (love this title) is Shakespeare put to accompaniment by 18th century British composer Thomas Augustine Arne.
Thankfully after weeding through sheets and sheets (or PDFs) of music on ArtSongCentral.com I was lucky to find ‘Go Down, Moses,’ a Negro Spiritual by Henry “Harry” Thacker Burleigh, an African-American classical composer, arranger, and professional singer who also composed ‘Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen’ as well. Fascinating! Here I am performing it in the dark of my apartment.
I’m not afraid to admit that I just think of Cameron Fry in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when I hear this song, which made this all very exciting.
I also learned another song from 16th century English Renaissance composer John Dowland called, ‘Can She Excuse My Wrongs?.’ Eh. It’s okay. Oh look I found Sting performing this…zzzz. No offense, Gordon. It could be Gwar performing it and I might still be asleep before the end.
2. Learn to play the accompaniments for one song and one dance for your troop.
I started learning ‘Oh Susanna’ on the banjo, which was fun, but I began running out of time.
Instead I learned ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag’ on the piano and performed it.
and I played ‘The Chicken Dance’ on the melodica, as I thought that would be a fitting instrument to play for this particular fad dance.
Next up is the party. Stay tuned.